There is a very short list of things I confidently believe all human beings have in common.
Being human in a world of 7 billion others means being surrounded by thousands of different aspects of the human condition shown through different people.
We can be as different as Kanye West and Leonardo da Vinci, but one thing we all possess is imperfection. (Yes, Kanye, even you.)
So we all have flaws, but if there’s one thing I think we, as the human race, can outwardly project less of, it is arrogance.
I find overconfidence particularly ironic because the majority of the time, I don’t view it as authentic. I think many people would agree that a a lot of the time we act conceited about something, we’re fronting our self-doubt about something else.
We try to overcompensate for insecurities by exuding self-assurance to convince others we’re closer to perfection than we are.
If you were truly content with yourself, wouldn’t you feel less inclined to talk yourself up in order to impress people and seek fulfillment? You wouldn’t be scrounging for others’ approval because your own would be enough. The people who care about you don’t put an emphasis on your flaws, anyway.
But, instead of accepting flaws as a part of human nature, we mask our personal anxieties with a false sense of pride, both to conceal them from others and forget about them ourselves.
It’s like our greatest fear is for others to detect our self-doubt and in turn, start doubting us, too.
I wonder what it would be like if we all leveled with each other. Imagine if everyone’s demeanor was closer to hey-I’m-flawed-and-you’re-not-perfect-either-but-it’s-fine-because-we’re-human.
Both pride and our apprehension toward displaying vulnerability is what prevents this from happening.
Another thing I’ve noticed about outward conceit is it does nothing but separate one person from everyone around him or her. If you act superior to someone (even if it’s a front), you begin to seem self-absorbed and less relatable.
If you hoist yourself up onto a pedestal in others' minds, you'll seem less accessible in terms of making connections. Since you act like you’re out of the person's league, he or she won’t go out of his or her way to know you because who wants to build friendships with someone who thinks you’re beneath him or her?
It definitely won’t make said person feel any better about him or herself.
So, the more we display excessive self-praise, the more distance we'll create between us and other people. It’s like an invisible rift being dug wider and deeper every time we act superior just because we’re too afraid to be vulnerable to others' judgments.
If you can’t ever be vulnerable, your relationships with people can only go so far.
None of this is to say we shouldn’t be content with ourselves and exude confidence, but there’s a difference between believing in yourself and pretending to just to make others buy into your own self-assurance.
If we consciously viewed our flaws as undeniably human and if we saw arrogance as a barricade between building strong relationships, we could become both more accepting of others and more accepting of ourselves.
I’m not saying we will ever all sit in a circle around a fire singing Kumbaya because I’m a realist and that just isn’t happening any time soon.
But, acting as if we are equals with everyone else instead of above them couldn’t hurt.