At the very beginning of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, there is a moment where Amy contemplates how she should describe her occupation as a personality quiz writer to the professional, talented people she meets at a party: (A) “Get embarrassed”, (B) “Go on the offense”, or (C) “Take pride in your accomplishments”. Her answer? “C, totally C”.
It is interesting how we often shy away from acknowledging, talking about or even letting people know about our accomplishments, how ever small or big, because we are afraid of coming across as arrogant. I’ve heard it said that this problem largely applies to women, as men have a stronger ability to appear confident about their own strengths and achievements. Regardless, I think we need to strike a balance between modesty and arrogance. It’s tricky and I understand the anxiety about appearing arrogant or self-important. Perhaps it depends on who we are talking with, whether it be mentors or peers. Perhaps it depends on our intonation, whether we think we’re above everyone else or whether we are informative and enthusiastic. Perhaps it depends on our manner of speaking, whether we can laugh at ourselves or whether we can only talk about ourselves, without engaging with the other person’s achievements. Although modesty is a valuable virtue, we need to be aware of its more negative implications. It teaches us to not value where we are in life, what we’ve done and how far we’ve come. It teaches us to undermine ourselves and to belittle ourselves, both intentionally and without realising. We need to replace the idea about arrogance with confidence and passion. We need to feel comfortable and happy with ourselves. We need to confirm our own success and rely on ourselves to bring a sense of confidence. Nobody else will believe in us if we can’t even believe in ourselves.