Someone once called me cocky, and I took offense to it at the time, but now that I think about it perhaps I was. When did a supreme amount of self-confidence begin to translate to cocky? When did something that is supposed to be good cross the line into bad territory? There is an admittedly thin line between healthy self-confidence and unhealthy arrogance, and I know we’ve all crossed it at some point without even realizing it.
I want to qualify my earlier statement. When I said perhaps I was cocky, I meant that when it comes to something specific that I have aptitude for, I have a tendency to speak as if I am an expert. What makes it cocky, though, is to say that my opinion on the subject at hand is more important and more compelling than anyone else’s. There’s the issue. When I was younger it was harder for me to make that distinction, that my word on a subject wasn’t the final say. It’s why perhaps I was cocky back then.
But now, as I’ve gotten older, and as I’ve seen how every single person has something to add to every discussion, even one that features a subject I feel proficient in. I see that I can learn something from listening instead of from blocking them out and waiting to get my own words in edgewise. I can now see that line, and I can offer my opinion without feeling like it has to be the word of God. Every now and again, though, I do fall back into old habits, and someone kicks me back in line. Thank you to those individuals who have the nerve to kick me back in line. I apparently need it sometimes.
I still occasionally live in that shadow of arrogance, especially when it comes to things like writing, grammar, sentence structure, and everything that goes into it. I sometimes judge others for what I see are their inadequacies instead of looking at their content and appreciating what’s there. There’s a way to understand and to appreciate someone else, even if they’re not me… maybe especially if they’re not me. Instead of alienating others I can uplift them.
It’s still a work in progress, but I think I’m making strides, and that’s the point, isn’t it?
One thought on “The Shadow of Arrogance”
Great points. I also think that people from other countries are quick to think of Americans as “cocky” or “stuck up.” I’ve learned that our encouragement of challenging authority figures, professors, and other experts in academia is often considered rude by people from other countries (which I hadn’t thought much of until graduate school, when we discussed that with several of our international classmates). My s/o is not from the U.S. originally, and I’ve definitely learned that our debates are viewed very differently through his lens!