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Humility and self-deprecation

Sit down, be humble… and grill yourself…. It seems that the most common way to appear humble is through self-deprecation. There is this idea that in order to be humble, we must make ourselves seem less significant compared to those around us. However, humility should not come at the cost of one’s confidence.

How do we achieve humility in a healthy way? A humble person is neither arrogant nor assertive and acknowledges personal and others’ achievements. For example, if person A were to compliment person B on an accomplishment, person B would respond somewhere along the lines of, “Thank you. I’m glad you recognize my efforts.” There’s also the recognition that one is not perfect and must continue to fix those mistakes.

I would call humility “controlled optimism.” Basically, one maintains an optimistic view of himself or herself and those around while making sure not to overstep the boundary and boast; in a way, humility is like empathy. It stems from an individual’s acute awareness of the other people’s perspectives, and it makes humans, well, human.

On the other hand, self-deprecation perpetuates a myriad of problems. I’ve noticed that students tend to downplay their own achievements than they do to others around them. Negative thoughts train the mind to instinctively respond to a new situation with a negative mentality, and when it comes to academics or relationships, this pessimism hinders growth and success.

Self-deprecation is not a viable option for success. If people don’t acknowledge their personal qualities, then they have nothing to distinguish themselves from others. At this point, they lose their identity. They lose what it means to be human. Humility does not imply that you must be of a lower status or ability than those around. So why try to appear weak in front of others?

True humility is achievable. The capacity to empathize and understand the struggles and achievements of others should also be applied toward oneself.

Don’t self-deprecate to achieve humility. There is no need. Humility is a balanced acceptance between the accomplishments of others and yourself. So next time, take pride in others’ feats, but most importantly, don’t forget about yourself.

By Phillip Leung, Production lead

Editorial cartoon by Jason Yen


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