Mea Culpa – Of Sorts

Having emerged some time ago out of the other side of my personal journey from frustrated blue-piller to comparatively fulfilled, balanced individual, it is interesting to be able to observe others going through the same process.

I think it takes a certain type of individual to be attracted to writing a blog in the first place. It’s inherently egotistical and narcissistic, to put your opinions and viewpoint up on public display. If you were merely interested in chronicling your own journey, you’d do so in a personal diary which would never see the light of day. (The other reason people blog is to make money and in which case they need to create and maintain a brand, but this has never been of interest to me).

As it is, we humans are hard-wired to feel good when we receive positive social feedback. High numbers of views on a post, comments telling you that you are right, all goes towards a feeling of satisfaction, and a reinforcement of your own ego. You’ve only got to look at the viral success of social media networks to realise the scope and power of this phenomenon.

It’s perhaps only natural to go through a phase of “believing your own hype”, and hyperbolically expounding upon the magnitude of your own perceived virtues at great length. Eventually, some time later, the dust settles, and one is able to look back with some measure of mild embarrassment on the whole thing. That is assuming the individual develops sufficient character to do so – many bloggers it seems never transition out of this phase at all, and remain on a perpetual ego trip for year after year, whilst the rest of us look on and cringe.

I don’t regret the style in which I wrote. It came naturally to me at the time, but was almost certainly an over-correction in the opposite direction from having had my confidence repressed for so many years. Eventually, the pendulum, having swung to both extremes, found the mid point, and settled there. I’ve only read a little Confucius, but this is one of the central tenets of his thought – with all things in life, there is a balance point to be found, “The Doctrine of the Mean”.

However, looking back at some of my writing, it is with a certain pang of embarrassment at the sheer level of self-aggrandisement. When you first learn a little, you think you know it all. The more you learn, the more you realise you don’t actually know much at all, and you should have kept your mouth shut in the first place.

It doesn’t really help that it takes so little to out-perform the competition in this day and age. Get yourself in even halfway decent shape, and some semblance of being able to dress yourself, and you’re head and shoulder above 90% of other men out there. However, in reality, there is little pride to be had in winning sports day at a school for the disabled (to re-use a pun I made on Twitter earlier). When you have broken into the top 0.1% in a chosen discipline – perhaps then it is reasonable to allow yourself a little muted pride. Any more than this, before you have earned the right to be entitled to it, is merely going to cause those higher up the ladder than you to look down on you with amused pity.

I’m never going to stop being egotistical, it’s just in my nature. As I’ve got older though I’ve realised, the louder a man shouts about how amazing and confident he is, the more likely it’s not true and he’s merely doing it to convince himself. If you’re truly happy and confident, you simply don’t feel the need to go around telling everyone how amazing you are all the time. It should be self-evident, and if it’s not – well, it’s probably not there.

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4 thoughts on “Mea Culpa – Of Sorts

    • Very good now thanks pal. I’ve avoided posting about it for a while because wanted to wait until I’ve got something concrete to talk about. I must admit, I somewhat underestimated the scale of the challenge at first, and experienced several “false dawn” moments along the way, but the 1000s of hours of work are paying off now.

      • I should note that I agree with what you’re saying. There’s a lot of self-aggrandizement that goes on around here. I’m no exception.

        What you’re saying about swinging in the opposite direction after having your confidence repressed for so long strikes pretty close to home. As of late I’ve been trying to avoid mental masturbation, or acknowledging it at the very least. I’ve been aiming for a balance between humblebrags and actual useful information. I don’t think I’m there yet.

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