The Importance of Modesty

Alex - Chandler, Arizona
Entered on May 13, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: humility

I believe in modesty. In fact, I pride myself in my ability to be modest. I do realize that this presents a bit of a quandary—is it possible to pride yourself for not being prideful? The thought makes my head hurt. I suppose I’ll just resign myself to the fact that the question is purely rhetorical, and attempt to move on…

In recent years, I have reached the conclusion that 99 percent of the time, nobody wants to hear how great you think you are. More often than not, in fact, others find it quite irritating if you constantly crave attention, talking out just for the sake of hearing your own voice and letting everyone else know just how clever you can be. I have gradually arrived at this realization only after witnessing countless students over the years (myself included) attempt to win the admiration of a class by talking. And talking… And talking…

Some may be surprised to learn that in the past, I would actually come to class and do more than just speak when spoken to. I would talk out. I would disrupt lectures and discussions with my witty quips about whatever subject was at hand. Often times, my jokes would hit the mark, and I would succeed in earning the laughter in which I so deeply relished. I didn’t feel guilty for the disruptions; to me, it was almost always worth the payoff. And yet, whenever another student would disrupt the class in exactly the same manner, I would quietly sit there, festering in my annoyance, practically appalled that someone would have the nerve to waste the class’s time just so they can get some cheap laughs.

After awhile, it dawned on me to actually question why I was talking out so much. Was I really that different from those kids who I found so annoying? Did I think I was benefiting my classmates by sharing my self-proclaimed wisdom and humor? Did I feel like I was actually contributing something constructive to the discussions? Or did I really just speak as a result of my own selfish motives? Well, even I wasn’t delusional enough to convince myself that my jokes were making anyone’s life better. No, it was painfully obvious that I was simply talking out because I was too insecure to sit through a class without proving, both to myself and others, that I was clever.

I realize now that modesty and self-esteem go hand-in-hand. Modesty is having nothing to prove—not to yourself or anyone else. A person who is modest does not feel compelled to constantly seek validation from others, as a modest person can find that validation from within. I believe I have found modesty. I don’t make as many attempts at humor now, because I don’t feel I need to. I know I have a sense of humor; I know I’m smart. I realize that I am of great worth as a human being, and I don’t need anyone to reassure me of this fact.

I believe in modesty. I think it is among the greatest of all virtues, as it is an indicator of one’s overall emotional condition. I can only hope that as I continue forward in life, I will always retain the sense of self-worth that will enable me to just shut up, already.