Today I felt called to write about a particular subject that has been on my mind the last few days: what it actually means to be humble.
This topic came up this past weekend when I was talking with my partner about where we wanted to live in Hawaii (we are thinking of buying property here on the east side of the island).
I currently live near sea level, about a mile or two from the ocean in an area that is deemed more jungly and a bit more expensive than other parts of the area. I love it here, and it feels like home to me.
Many others that know this area also agree that it is generally a nice place to live: it is a mutually agreed-upon notion that the road I live on is worth more money than other areas and is great for having food forests and living off the land. While my partner and I were talking about where I wanted to build a property, I told him on the road I currently live on. I had my sights set on a property a half-mile or so from me that I had walked by almost every day. I imagined myself living there, working with the land, and building a circular home made out of ohia trees and lounging about with my two future German Shepherd puppies.
He told me he thought one of the reasons I wanted to build a property on the current road I live on was because I enjoy telling other people where I live and because it is a nice area to live in. It gives me “status” so to say and a sense of pride and accomplishment.
I could tell the way he posed this idea to me that it was meant to be a “bad” thing to think, to get satisfaction in telling people where I live. I thought about it before answering. Normally, I would have felt shame upon this reflection and wanted to change the way I felt and how I expressed myself to others.
Luckily for me, I’ve done some serious work on my beliefs, my emotional world, self-love, and the way I talk to and think about myself. Because I accept and have come to love myself for who I am, I accepted this part of me. I no longer felt bad for feeling good, accomplished, and prideful about where I lived and where I wanted to build my dream house. Then I did something a lot of us have a difficult time doing: I was honest about myself and how I was truly feeling.
“You’re right,” I said. “That is exactly how I feel. But I don’t believe there is anything wrong with that.” As I said this, I felt a big release of any tension I had been holding within me. I did it. I stood my ground and planted my feet firmly into the roots of my authenticity. I claimed who I was and what I thought in the moment, and I didn’t feel one lick of shame for it.
My partner had little words to say to me after my response. What could he really say when I agreed with him? We talked a bit about our egos and the word humble came up into our topic of conversation. I thought about humbleness on our drive home (we were coming back from camping) and how this term is actually toxic to us. I had always thought that being humble was a good thing and something I was trying to achieve so I could be enlightened and everyone would love me, but now I realize that trying to be humble was only taking my power away.
According to dictionary.com (2022) to be humble is to be, “not proud or arrogant” as well as “having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience, etc.” They also go on to say, “low in rank, importance, status, and quality.” You get the picture.
Humbleness is something we have been told since we were little to be. “Don’t brag about yourself. Don’t talk about your achievements. Just be humble.” My partner’s background on his phone is even “stay humble.” The message runs deep and thick, people.
To me, to be humble is to not take up space and to not show up authentically. It is to be quiet, “a nice girl,” putting others’ needs before your own, never striving for more or better, and giving your authority and independence to someone or something else.
This keeps us small. This keeps us from thinking that we are inferior to others. So many of us are trained to not want better for ourselves, to not celebrate and acknowledge ourselves because we will be deemed “narcissists.” This fear of coming off as “full of ourselves” keeps us quiet and gives our power away to those who will claim it. And then we all get angry at those people for taking up space, showing off their wealth and achievements, and call them narcissists—and so the cycle continues.
There is nothing wrong with being content with your life and having gratitude for what you have now. In fact, I believe that this is just as important as wanting more. We need both. We can have both. You can feel gratitude for what you have now yet at the same time also be working toward more and better for yourself. Because you deserve it!
We are not meant to be small. We are not meant to stay stagnant and to never grow. Life is a party, and it’s time we started to act like it!
Celebrate yourself for all that you are doing for yourself every day. I promise it is more than you think you are doing. Write a list of what you have done and when you cross something off give yourself a hug, dance to your favorite song, and congratulate yourself because you’ve done it.
Sometimes I look in the mirror and think “damn I look hot.” Yes, that’s right. I think that, and I believe that to be true. There is nothing wrong with this. I celebrate myself for taking care of myself. Do I feel this way every single day? No! Which is why it’s so important to celebrate and acknowledge yourself when you are feeling good and not so good.
Talk about your achievements. Talk yourself up. Show the world what a great artist, financial consultant, influencer, coach, app designer, taxi driver, father you are! You are important, and you have something special to give to the world.
When you try to be humble, you hide this gift from yourself and from all of us. It really is a lose-lose for everybody. You tell yourself that who you are and what you do doesn’t matter and isn’t worth sharing. When you do this, you are giving your power away. You are telling the world “Hey, don’t look at me. I have nothing to offer you.” And so you hide in your corner and pretend that you are not a badass, liberated, and successful person. This leads to resentments within yourself that ultimately get projected onto every other area of your life: your friends, family, partners, job, hobbies, and so on. You start to resent the very life you are living. You feel trapped and suppressed, yet you don’t know how to get out because you thought you were doing the right thing by being humble.
The time is now to break free of the chains that bind you. By this I mean words and the rulership they have on your life. Humbleness is just a word. Let it mean whatever you want it to mean. Narcissism is just a word. Let this mean whatever you want it to mean. But don’t let them have power over you that makes you feel like you can’t be your true self. This is the most important piece. We are all just telling each other stories and believing them. But you don’t have to. You can write your own story, change your perspective, and express yourself in ways that are aligned with the real you.
Get out there, turn the next page, and keep going! Get out of your corner, feel the sun on your face, and claim to the world who you are and what you’re here to do. You got this!