The Hubris Debacle

So The Daily Post does this cool thing where they post a prompt everyday for writers who are stuck with no ideas.
Today’s prompt states thus:

Do you have a reputation? What is it, and where did it come from? Is it accurate? What do you think about it?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us YOU.

I felt like taking it up in a short piece, which follows immediately.

A reputation is a dangerous thing to have. It not only causes people to presume your demeanour, but also tends to have your public character pigeonholed into a tight, often unyeilding, mold. In other words, that all-important first impression of you has already been made by your reputation. It is made before you might even have an opportunity to present yourself for who you think you really are.

I do have a reputation. I know this because I have this practice where I periodically identify a person who is relatively new to me, but has in a short span of time, become a dear friend to me. I then privately ask this person to appraise my character. After the inevitable silly jokes and well-meant slander, I ask them to get serious and they do. Over the course of 7 years, I think I’ve done this 4-6 times (maybe more, I’m not sure), each time with a different person. I then look for patterns in their answers – stuff that other people have told me, and general inclinations that you pick up in conversations.

I think I’ve alluded to this practice in an earlier post. If it seems interesting to you, please feel free to use it in your own life. Come back and tell me about it, if you like! I’d love feedback.

There have been several patterns to notice, and the two that I notice most are that I am:

  • A very helpful/nice person
  • A sometimes¬†arrogant person (I highlight “sometimes” because the political correctness amuses me)

I will be addressing the arrogance part here. The next part of the question asks me to ascertain the origin of this reputation. I think I discovered the grapevine, if I remember correctly, with “[me] bragging everyday about [my] mother’s cooking. [his] mother’s cooking was great too but you didn’t see [him] talking about it”. It seems so silly in hindsight, but I guess it mattered to children barely into middle school. The whole “arrogance” thing has been with me ever since, in every social group I ever entered.

I think the truthfulness of this ‘accusation’, for lack of a better word is limited to these facts –

  • For all my amateur writing and speaking experience, I’m still a very inept and awkward conversationalist because I never know what is off-limits and I fail to filter. This plagues me to this day.
  • I tend to remember very specific moments of my life, where I felt strong emotions, especially embarrassment and this can happen at any time, even in the middle of a conversation. I never know what the trigger is. While it helps tone down the arrogance, it is, obviously, not a pleasant experience for me. This, coupled with the previous point, leads me into more and more awkward conversations, to the point that people start getting annoyed while talking to me.
  • These points are only valid when I am in an informal setting. I make a great formal impression, and I handle myself with as much professionalism as a corporate greenhorn can muster. Therefore, when I meet new people, I tend to at least try not to get too comfortable with them, because history has shown me far too few people who would willingly listen to and put up with what I say.
  • In a previous post, I may have alluded to a tumultuous time in my life when my closest friends at the time collectively decided to stop speaking with me. While the situation blew over eventually, it led me to form two things: A defense mechanism of absolute self-satisfaction to overcome a confrontational situation, and an attitude to choose my principles over the feelings and companionship of people. It was also partly responsible for my choice to be severely honest. Many people find this self-serving attitude arrogant, but the beauty of it is that the same attitude lets me not care. Que sera sera – I learnt long ago that not everyone deserves my love and attention.

My principles have been under the scrutiny of several people still apparently. I moved to B.Sc. (Honors) for my final year of study last year (I graduate in May this year), and as a result I got a lot of new classmates – people I had never met before. We danced the awkward dance of new beginnings, and eventually were able to engage in easy conversation. During one such group conversation, when the focus shifted to me, one of my new friends told me this:

Hey, why did all those people say you are not a good guy and I shouldn’t talk to you? You seem like a nice person. (paraphrased)

I won’t say any more on this topic, except that my reply was – “Well they didn’t have the courage to come tell me, did they? I am a nice guy.”

In summary, I have written about what I think my reputation is, and how I think it originated and has mutated beyond its original form. I’ve also written about how accurate I feel it is, and have rationalised and somewhat justified my side of the story.

That just leaves one last thing, and that is to ask you what you think. Thank you for reading my post, and I would deeply appreciate your thoughts and comments.

Question: Leave a comment on what you think about arrogance, and whether there are positives to having an arrogant attitude.

I would also appreciate if you would read through my other posts, which are all categorized on my Welcome Page.

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