The Hardest Humble
Kendrick Lamar said it best in his song Humble, “be humble, sit down,” but being humble is easier said than done.
To be “humble,” according to the dictionary, is having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s importance. In my experience being humble isn’t how you present yourself. It’s the act of tossing one’s pride over a cliff and walking away with a piece of your soul scattered, bare across the ground. My definition may seem a little dramatic but in truth when you go through a humbling experience, it can feel like a piece of you is left behind naked and broken.
I’ve experienced my fair share of humbling times. When a professor called my work “average,” it humbled a piece of me. When a former supervisor told me I didn’t consistently go above and beyond, it ripped a piece from me. Recently, I experienced one of my most humbling incidents: asking for money.
Everyone has days they have to stretch one dollar into twenty. My stretching skills are adept but this amount was beyond my expertise. I was assaulted with a bill I could not pay without some serious assistance. So I did what most people would do – I turned to family. Besides my mother, I have never asked a family member for money. I talk to my mother every day, and I knew she did not have this large amount of cash for me to borrow. So I turned to another source. Hat in hand, pride tossed over the cliff, I asked someone else and failed.
The process of asking, speaking the words “Can I borrow…” was painful.
Asking someone for money felt like climbing the steepest of mountains during a downpour, only to reach the top and…nothing. There was not a breathtaking picturesque view at the top; no cascading waterfalls that made me forget my troubles. In fact, when I reached the top, it felt remarkably like hitting rock bottom. I wasn’t chastised for asking for money, in fact, they regretted they couldn’t help me. Yet, a part of me was so humiliated, I wanted to curl into a ball and cry.
I stood there for their judgment. I was completely vulnerable as I lay myself bare, stripped off every piece of my theoretical armor, and stood naked in front of them.
It was in the saddest moments that I realized my hardest humble was my altruistic awakening. Despite feeling sorry for myself, I started to realize something about myself. I was trustworthy to this person. I might have embarrassed myself by asking for money but the person I asked didn’t care. They never asked me what the money was for. They didn’t ask how quickly I could pay them back. In fact, the only thing they asked was how much I needed. After they regretfully told me they didn’t have the amount I needed, they proceeded to help me in other ways. Reflecting on their reaction helped me see myself through their eyes.
As I mentioned, I don’t ask people for money so this experience was slightly crippling. Yet, I’m glad I went through it. It’s hard to notice how small pride is compared to worth. After I humbled myself, I opened myself up to be judged and I am pleased with the verdict.
Hubris is the downfall of men for a reason. So mayhaps I should take the advice of Drake more often. In humility comes an understanding of our circumstances and the circumstances of others.
We gain compassionate for others as we humble ourselves, and through humbling ourselves we allow others to see us in a new light.
My hardest humble was my biggest gain.