Do you ever read old, or sometimes not all that old, diary entries and not even recognise yourself? That’s how I feel reading my last entry. I was so full of hope and optimism and more than a little smug sounding. And now, a few months later, I am back to battling my way out of a funk and wondering how to find the energy to keep trying. I’m doing my best to act as I want to feel so I’m going to plough on with my main muse of the day.
Today I had two meetings for work and in both I met with people who were passionate about their jobs. They were realistic and seemingly full of sound judgement but they believed in what they did and were proud of their achievements. Driving back home I realised that I don’t often feel this way. And it’s not just professionally and I think it identifies a real gap in my life.
I have a HUGE aversion to feeling even remotely proud. Just writing the word and hearing it in my head and I think of all the negative connotations; after all Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett had issues related to their pride… But that’s just me being flippant. I think this is a real problem and I am not sure if it’s just me or a cultural one.
As an English person I am always a bit embarrassed about any so-called achievements and I instantly feel the need to downplay things and apologise for them. In any situation where someone compliments me I turn into an English toff in a 1920’s sitcom and dismiss the statement almost resorting to PG Wodehouse phrases like ‘don’t be silly, Old Bean’ to bat away the unpleasantness without wanting to question the judgement of the person making the comment. I suspect a lot of this is post-Colonial – we grabbed so much of the world and did so many questionable things and we now can’t bear to act with even a glimmer of pride or avarice.
I think of this as part of being English but it might just be about my family or my personal insecurities. In my case it’s really not about false modesty and often leads to uncomfortable situations. I thought a lack of pride, save in trying to always do my best, was a good thing. But now I wonder.
There seems to be over-whelming evidence that how we think and articulate effects how we feel and truly think about ourselves and all this modesty means I never feel very satisfied or happy with anything I do. I put in all the work and worry but never feel anything more than a guilty little buzz which I then dismiss as relief and try to move on quickly. It’s all just business as usual over here. And maybe I am missing something in that.
So, whilst I continue on my quest for equilibrium I think I’ll try to cultivate a little pride in myself and my actions too.