Posts Tagged ‘pride’

Pride Ego and Assumptions

14 May 2012

Dear J-

The guy I used to carpool with back when we were young cost engineers, he’s now a manager and more power to him: he works hard, his people respect him, and his bosses trust him. This is less about him than it is about me, as usual: I like to tell myself that he’s made choices that I don’t think I would or could to get to where he is now but I know that’s just an excuse in my mind. That’s my ego telling me that I’m still better, or, bluntly, that I’m never wrong. How else could I explain it? Then I remember how hard he’s workked and the sacrifices he’s made and it’s not so easy to judge him. More successful? Undoubtedly. I remember how he used to fight tooth-and-nail for our raises, and I benefitted more from his tenacity than my passivity.
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There’s a difference, I think, between pride and ego; if you assume pride to be constructive (take pride in your work) then I’ll call ego something more pejorative it’s that impulse that tells you hey, you did this so it’s more than good enough. It’s the overwhelming assumption that you’re right. It’s the part of you that refuses to back down from a losing argument, it’s the prickly beast inside that wounds easily and recovers slowly. I have a lot of pride but I also have a ton of ego which over the years I’ve confused with pride via the same definitions above.

There’s a board at work with all kinds of slogans that people have come up with over the past few months working on this project. One of my favorites so far is “If you’re in deep $h!+ it’s best to keep your mouth shut.” I want to add something along the lines of “Check your baggage at the door: we don’t have room for you and your ego here.” I’ve been proven time and time again that that’s true; this particular project is so much bigger than me or even my overinflated head that the benefit of working on it has been less in the skills and contacts I’ve made (though those have been valuable/invaluable, too) as it is the deflating sense of self I feel when walking in that door and understanding where I am.

Mike

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Proud Horror

9 January 2010

Dear J-

After the morning errands are over we get to do a little exploring around San Diego; the first few months we spent bouncing back and forth from the familiar places but just lately I’ve been wanting to explore the pieces that show up green on the maps I love: the parks. First off, I love maps because they let me travel without leaving my chair; tracing the spaghetti of tangled roads and paths, or following the regular waffle grooves between downtown buildings, you get a chance to plot routes that have the best chance of being interesting. The real tragedy of the internet is the obsolescence of map reading skills, that’s what I think some days.

Another part of it is finding the way that figgy’s face lights up to see a new place; new enough to be exciting, familiar enough to be welcoming. Parks in San Diego have the same sort of playground equipment no matter how far out ot the way you go, but maybe in a slightly different configuration or layout. Today’s chosen park, Kearny Mesa Park (and Recreation Center) had your usual structure studded with ladders and slides, but it was divided into two distinct sections. One was inaccessible for little kids except those able to climb ladders or who could ride the zip line across from the small side, which featured the low slide and welcoming steps.

I did my best to keep her going on the big side, but she preferred the small one, sliding down that particular slide solo where she wouldn’t even consider it for the larger slides; she got up the ladder fine by herself but I kept hesitantly hovering over her waist, hooking a finger into a belt loop (really, all that would do would pull off her pants and smack her head into the unforgiving bars; I’m not sure what I was thinking). It’s funny how we vacillate between wishing for independence and hoping it isn’t today, or this week, or tomorrow even; the hard part is being simultaneously horrified and proud at the same time.

Mike

Fame Fast

5 March 2009

Dear J-

Forty hours is forty hours, no matter how you slice it up; late to bed inevitably means rising late, and I ended up nearly running out the door half-dressed this morning.  You feel the end of the day acutely, whether it’s been easy or active, it all adds up.  Sometimes it feels like walking out the door means going to your inevitable doom at work, where the piles are neverending and the questions come flying.

You end up finding your sanity in different ways, though.  Creative thinking seems discouraged, but in truth it’s only as far away as you make it:  there’s plenty of opportunities for composition and creation no matter where you end up stalking about.  A steady hand and confidence go a long way.  When I was ten, my mom’s friend remarked that I was proud — in the world of possible interpretations, I took that to be a positive thing:  don’t I have a lot to be proud of, no?

It always feels like such a thin line between pride and being prideful, though, right?  When did we decide that standing out was a bad thing, after all?  We like to recognize accomplishments but we condemn the unhumble heroes; we wax rhapsodic about others but never ourselves.  So we wait, patiently, to be tapped and celebrated, dropping unsubtle hints and hopes.  Funny that we hope for fame and wish for obscurity, but I suppose the very notion of aspiration means something you haven’t got.

Mike