To Stay Humble

Ann - Westlake, Ohio
Entered on January 8, 2009
Age Group: Under 18

“Everyone must try to remain humble,” or at least that was what my fourth grade teacher taught me. The truth of the matter though, is that staying humble is much more difficult for me than simply swearing I will. Every day I cross temptations that challenge this philosophy, like receiving good grades, fancy gifts, or an unusually thrilling experience. These obstacles constantly erode at my judgment, and it is not uncommon for me to forget my principle of staying humble. The biggest obstacle I faced though was setting a goal to become rich.

If I were asked what my biggest goal was six or seven years ago, I would likely respond with “becoming rich.” I was told that money couldn’t buy happiness, but I never thought about the phrase. I thought to myself that I could buy myself a big house, a nice boat, a fine family, and even spare time. I was determined to get ahead of the crowd, and refused to even consider the possibility or ramifications (or lack thereof) of falling short of this goal. I was too close minded to know that there was another way to becoming wealthy and happy. What was worse though, I thought I was a member of a higher caste than those around me, and believed that making money would prove that I was better than everyone. I had lost my humility.

Ironic then, that it only took one question to break my shell of thought, and force me to open my eyes. My friend asked me one night, “When you reach your goal, what will you want to do for yourself?” I tried to answer his question, and for the first time I could remember, I couldn’t. At what point would I become rich? When I become rich, what would I do with myself? How was I so certain that making myself rich would make me better than others? How would being rich make me happy? I couldn’t respond; I knew there wasn’t an answer that would stand up to his simple question. Lost in thought, I told him “I don’t know.”

Since that moment, I’ve worked towards having a modest, but happy life without money dictating my actions. Money won’t make my life better, and earning money won’t make me happier; but most importantly though, making money will not make me better than other people. I don’t want to be better than other people; I want to be myself. It is reminders like these simple questions that help me stay modest and understand why remaining modest will help me continue a happy, yet simple life. This is why I believe staying humble is my most important philosophy.