Sunday, November 19, 2006


You play music?
..- Yeah. I've been playing the piano for a while... but, I'm learning guitar.
So you're actually good at the piano.
..- I'm OK.
You're ok. Which translates into, "You're actually good, but you're uncomfortable saying so.".
..- Yeah... it's called modesty.
No. Modesty is not bringing it up. Saying you're ok when you're actually good at something, is called lying.


This is an excerpt from "The Station," a short film directed by Josh Stackhouse. It's funny that I saw this film last night. I've been thinking these days about how I portray myself, and how I often feel like I can't acknowledge when I'm actually good at something, or that I like something about myself, without feeling like I'm bragging or boasting. Some people have no problem saying that they're good at something, which is good, which is healthy. But then, some take it just over the line and you get sick of hearing about how great they think they are.

I tend to be a person who just says it like it is. I did something silly? I tell people about it, cause, hey, it's funny! But sometimes I worry about accentuating weaknesses by joking about them, or pointing them out. I'm not a fan of hiding that side of me, because I think it's important to be transparent, but often I find myself wondering what kind of impression I'm giving off to people if I keep telling stories of goof-ups or talking about things I'd like to improve about myself, and am hesitant to acknowledge my strengths for fear of boasting or sounding full of myself.

It's all very well to have your own view of yourself in your head, but I think it would be so interesting to get to watch myself for a day and see me the way others do. Ha! Who knows, maybe people think I'm full of myself!

So what do you think? Where's the line between being honest about yourself and your strengths and bragging or boasting? Do you ever wonder how you come accross to others?

No conclusions from me, I'm just trying to think through, well, me and my big mouth! Heh heh.

(see what I mean?)

** Edited to add: This post continues on in the comments... there's a great discussion going - check it out and chime in! **


happy and blue 2 said...

The problem with saying you are good at something is that someone might ask you to prove it.
I think most people like someone else to notice they are good at something for them. And then tell others how great they are.

And our standards of what is good change as we get better at something.
So, for example, I bike 100k one day and my friends think I'm a great biker and I watch tv and compare myself to a Lance Armstrong and think I suck..

Should I continue, ha,ha..

happy and blue 2 said...

BTW, I'm really impressed that you have posted every day this month. I secretly hoped you wouldn't so I could quit but you didn't. And I'm impressed..

Not that I thought you were a quitter. It's just that I usually am.So your posting is making me post. Which is good for me. Perhaps not so good for people reading my blog, ha,ha..

Hillary said...

H&B - 100k a day, eh? Prove it? ;) (Do you REALLY? I mean, it's Manitoba, it's not like there are any hills to contend with...)

But that's true, it's not really satisfying to tell others about your strengths - I don't think that's really what I'm talkig about... hmm... what am I talking about? ... I think I'm mostly thinking of the impression I give off when I joke about my goof-ups or point out weaknesses. Sometimes I think I overdo it.

But you're right... it's definitely nice to have something you do well recognized by omeone else. The best compliments are those that you totally don't expect, or recognition (in private, I'm not talking award shows or anything!) for something that you didn't even know you were good at or had done.

Does that make sense?

Anyway... this should really be a whole 'nother post, I suppose. Oh well.

And I didn't realize you were keeping up with me! I'll have to post twice a day now, and see if Happy and Blue turns into Crazy and Blue! :P Muah hahahaaa!

nachtwache said...

I started to write, how being honest and open, especially about goof-ups, makes others comfortable to open up as well, funny goof-up stories are always well received, if someone judges and looks down on you, you probably don't want to know them anyway. But I got stumped at what's the line between being honest and bragging. I don't know how to put that, I think you can just tell if it's one or the other.
I wouldn't worry, you're obviously well liked, look how many people visit and comment on your blog. Just keep being yourself. Also thanks for letting a stranger opine here :)

Anonymous said...

I wish we had big flashing boards attached to us, which could prompt others to boast about us when we want: "Tell this girl who was competitive with Bleu during high-school that she sold an essay to a mag --NOW!" My husband is not an approval-junkie (which I am) and often forgets to brag about me when I want him to the most.

I have a sickness, I know...

Hillary said...

Hmm... Africableu - yeah, I hadn't thought about it that way. It is nice to have reassurance when I talk/joke about goof-ups.

"Oh man, I'm such a klutz!"

"Oh, no you're not, you're perfectly graceful." (buah ha, except that would be such a lie!)

Haha. OK, so maybe I'm an apporval junkie, too. Not excessivly, I don't think, but, wow, yeah. Gee, this is like free therapy!!! ;)

Oh MAN. And look, I did it again! Look at my response to my hypothetical reassurance! ARG!

Hillary said...

Nachtwache - that's totally true! That's one of the reasons that I do that sometimes!

Africablue - I just remembered an instance just yesterday when I said something that was SO a request for approval, or a fish for a compliment. Haha! Wow... I realized what it was when it landed on deaf ears and I was disappointed!

Oh boy...

nachtwache said...

Don't look to people for approval, if you're true to yourself, do what pleases God, your doing well. Pleasing God is really all we need to worry about. But we do get hurt, when people reject us, or are insensitive...Well, Hillary, even though I don't know you, I have the impression that you're a wonderful, real and unpretentious person, with a beautiful spirit, a big heart....You're a teacher, even teach music, so accomplished, you have a professional degree, whatever you wish for in your personal life, trust God to give you what's best for you and when the time is right.

nachtwache said...

you being a teacher, forgive my grammatical/spelling mistakes, in my defense, I never had formal teaching to learn English, just learned as I went, from reading books, talking and listening...thank goodness for spell check! or I'd have more for you to see.:)

Queen Bee said...

You make much sense, Hillary. I think we all do that to some degree (want to be acknowledged for the "good" stuff) and those who can't laugh at themselves really have a problem.

Hillary said...

Nachtwache - your "trust God..." words have more truth than you know to me right now. It's someting I have to keep telling myself over and over... and over. :) Thank you for your kind words, too (and trust me, I make enough typos - right Joy T? - that I'm not at ALL worried about grammar or what have you. I'm jsut glad to have people join in the discussion!)

You know, I was thinking as I was walking to my workshop today that I probably do still let other people's approval of me affect my view of myself too much. It's definitely a lot less than when I was younger, but the truth of ythe matter is, what people think of us IS important.

I had that still quiet voice remind me as I was walking today to keep learning what it means to see myself teh way GOD sees me, and to let Him define who I am instead of others, and even instead of my own perceptions of who I am.

"Who are you allowing to tell you who you are?"

Again, there's another fine line between accepting and needing encouragement and affirmation (which I believe we do) and relying on that affirmation to define ourselves (and having our view of who we are change based on higher/lower levels of affirmation).


Anonymous said...

Sadly, the fine line is always different with every single person you encounter. When talking about your strengths in the exact same way to two different people can be taken VERY differently... One person can walk away thinking what a strong, confident person you are and the other can walk away thinking, "Could she talk about herself MORE?? Who does she think SHE is???" Though I've found the latter are usually sad, bitter maybe just get out there and be open and I just need to take my own advice! : )

BTW...I def. look for approval from others. My husband does NOT, and does not understand why I do. I couldn't even begin to explain to him or anyone why I do, but I do.