My grandmother lived with us growing up. She was the first person I saw when the bus dropped us off at the shanty (that’s bus stop for non-islanders). She’d be waiting at the gate to usher my brother and I in our yard and dutifully remind us to remove our uniforms.
I recall coming home one day running home to recount my exceptional day. I was floating high and could barely catch my breath “Granny Granny guess what I did today?” Without waiting for her answer I burst. “I won the spelling bee practice in class today!” As I opened my mouth to give her the details, she stopped me cold and with a disapproving scowl on her face she said, “Self-praise has no recommendation Gillian.”
Granny took the wind out of my sails every time I tried to tell her I had accomplished something big. She considered it bragging. My child-self interpreted it to mean that I hadn’t accomplished anything worth mentioning. So, “Self-Praise has no recommendation” became a transferred mantra I now claimed as my own. I stopped sharing my good news.
As adults we worry so much about people thinking that we’re big-headed or conceited that we stop sharing our achievements. This ongoing misinterpretation of humility is harmful. What if what you did lifted one person’s spirit? What if telling your story gives someone hope? What if that accolade you received inspires someone to try when they had otherwise given up? What if your own redemption allows someone to believe in their ability to recover?
Being invisible and silent are not the equivalent of being humble. Your greatness is not meant to be proportionate to your humility. You can be arrogant and selfish in your quiet.
You are great, you are important, and what you achieve is significant. Those who love you will never hold your greatness against you, they will celebrate with you. When they can’t, the issue is usually theirs.
Sometimes it is enough for others to notice you, but the reason your story exists is because it demands to be told and it deserves to be heard. You have the ability to change the trajectory of someone’s life for the better with your experience. Choose to do so.