Settle down, dude. You’re not all that.
People are drawn to confidence and turned off by arrogance.
It’s tough to avoid the latter, especially if you just won a scholarship or an impressive school award. Go ahead and revel in the fact that you just won free money for school, but don’t get a big head over it.
Alyssa Gregory writes in her SitePoint article “How to Be Confident without Being Arrogant,” that “No one likes a know-it-all, or someone who doesn’t listen because they believe they have nothing to learn. If you display arrogance, you may turn people off, lose potential opportunities and hurt your reputation. Not to mention it can be a lonely way to live.”
But simply choosing not to be conceited is not always that simple, is it?
Sometimes it requires discipline. If you’re feeling arrogance come over you like the zombie plague, keep these three facts in mind.
1. You’re probably not as original as you think
That famous Beatles line “There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done” and the Ecclesiastes’ verse “There’s nothing new under the sun” both ring true, with a few notable exceptions.
Someone else, perhaps almost as deserving and talented as you are, would have won that scholarship if you didn’t. You might be a great mind — and I encourage you to invest in that — but you’re not the only great mind out there.
You have influences.
Perhaps a high school teacher who inspired you to apply for college in the first place or a parent who drove you to school every day. Or even friends who, through their actions, pushed you to not give up and assured you that you have a shot at winning a great scholarship and going to a great school.
A lot of factors affect your skills and accomplishments. If you won a scholarship for an essay you wrote, clearly your writing style and skills are a reflection of all those who have taught you along the way. Maybe the authors you read or the media you view helped shape your language as well. If it’s a scholarship for something odd, like a weird last name, then, well, obviously you’re not the sole genius here.
In college and in life, you join a field or discussion that has been going on probably centuries before your birth and will go on centuries after your death. Just contribute as best you can, with a humble mind.
2. Show gratitude to those who helped you win the scholarship
Unless you’ve existed for eternity without cause (AKA, you’re God), then you have something or someone to be grateful toward.
A mother who gave birth to you. A teacher who taught you to write. A planet with food and oxygen. A friend who gave you confidence. The list goes on.
When you begin to notice an abundance of pride in your heart, focus on who helped you get to where you are today.
Sure, you still mostly contribute to winning that scholarship, but you weren’t alone. In that same SitePoint article, Gregory writes, “We rarely reach success without support from someone else, and acknowledging the role others have played in our accomplishments is a great way to display confidence without arrogance.”
And don’t just recognize this but perhaps seek out the people who helped you win this scholarship. It will help cool down your arrogance. Write them a nice note or give them a gift card or flowers.
3. Commit the artist’ crime: Compare yourself to the most-renowned
If you’re still feeling arrogant after winning that lofty amount of money, then the last resort is the artist’s crime: Compare yourself to those more talented than yourself — and deep down, you know these people exist.
In the New York Times article “Comparing Yourself to Others — It’s Not Always Bad,” Alina Tugend writes, “I objectively know that my own life is pretty good, but this upward comparison, as economists and psychologists call it, can somehow dim my own accomplishments.”
Since comparing yourself to others often leads to doubt and insecurity of your accomplishments and worth, one way to get rid of your arrogant mindset is to compare yourself to others — ideally, someone in your desired field. Even better, someone around your age who is more successful than you are (this can calm the arrogance of nearly anyone).
If extreme pride still resonates throughout your body — after recognizing you’re not the greatest, not the most original and not solely responsible for your accomplishments — then prepare for people getting frustrated with you.
In the meantime, go celebrate that scholarship or school award with the friends and family who have helped make you who you are today.
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