Thursday, September 26, 2013


The other day I overheard a classic example of the humblebrag:

"Oh, I just graduated."
"Cool. Where'd you go?"
(pause) "...Harvard."
"Oh, wow. Is it hard to get in?"
"No, I'm actually surprised I got in. I applied to an Ivy League on a dare, and I chose Harvard because it had the easiest application process."

Now, before you injure yourself rolling your eyes, consider this: I, also, applied to Harvard because my thesis advisor recommended it, and I didn't expect to get in, and certainly not with a full scholarship and stipend.

See what I did there? I just humblebragged LIKE A BOSS. 

Now, the humblebrag is a skill (/annoying habit) honed by the insecure. Humblebraggers are keenly aware of their perceived position relative to all others present, and want to demonstrate said position without seeming like a jerk. I've only recently awakened to my own tendency to humblebrag, so if you have been in my company while I obliviously went off on how not-great-but-really-great I am -- sorry! Growing up is a process, and self-awareness is key.

Speaking of, I've also been more attuned to the fights inside my head. There's a bad person in there who is mostly quiet, but she came out in full force at the gym a couple nights ago. I was doing random exercises because my usual class got cancelled, when in walked this girl. She was skinny and blonde and immediately the voice barked, "What the hell? Why is she wearing makeup and pearl earrings? What is with the bracelet and watch? This is the gym!"

"Shut up," I told the voice inside my head, not like a crazy person at all, "I'm wearing a ring with diamonds, for baby Jesus' sake. I'm in no position to hate on her."

"What. Is. She. Doing," the other voice continued nastily. "She's let her hair down and is retying it into a ponytail! Ugh! Just look at her!"

And I did. She was pumping 8-lb. weights like it ain't no thang. She was rocking the medicine ball sit-ups. And she was minding her own damned business. I willed the voice in my head to shut up, and focused on the tiny little muffin top peeking out sheepishly from my pants. That's why I was in the gym, innit? To be lean! To get fit! To be the best Fragrant Elephant I could be!

"ROAR!!!" I roared at insecurity, and insecurity fled. For the moment.

Fear lies at the heart of insecurity. So whenever I feel bad about something, I ask myself: "What are you afraid of?" Often, the answer is: "Failure." Failure is scary because it can lead to more failure; it can keep you down; and you have to fight like the devil to find the lesson and learn it instead of beating yourself up, or worse, start blaming other people.

I'm still learning the lesson, and fear is everywhere. You see it blustering on your TV, you read it in the news, you smell it every time someone rails against change. But I've come this far, I've earned this much, and I'm going to keep going.

...Did I just humblebrag again? Goddammit.

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