Are you more proud of your accomplishments or your character?

Character and Accomplishments go together in my life, and the Pride part is where I get unsteady. I am glad that other Zaadzsters echo these thoughts in their own answers to this question.

Anyone raised with a strict Protestant Ethic might flinch away from the word “pride” as I do. (With my best friend deeply enmeshed in co-chairing her local Pride festival…. I suddenly wonder how many aspects of politics are touched by that choice of word…) I recall so many frightful lecture sessions where my mother screamed at me not to be proud of anything, and to never think that I was capable of any accomplishment. I was supposed to learn that anything done was done through God’s will only, and if something was done well by my own hands, then I must immediately thank God for it.

“You are nothing!” she screamed, trying to teach me this important lesson about humility and pride. “You can’t do anything without God. You are worthless without God! Never be proud of yourself or tell anyone that you did something. It is all God’s good work and you are merely skin and bones to carry out his work!”

Erm. I think she went a bit far. But maybe I was a hot-headed girl and needed to be reigned in. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to shake off the effects of those lessons, however. It makes me feel tremendously guilty now, when I put a lot of work into something, and think “Wow, I did a really good job.” Then, I glance around and see if anyone noticed me taking credit for something my own hands made.

I’ll probably swing the pendulum the other way and set back my own child with the opposite overdose of emphasis. “You are so smart! And capable! And thoughtful! Good for you!” Like many children (too many children) these days, mine will grow up thinking she’s brilliant  and may be in for a dreadfully rude awakening when she gets into the world and finds out she’s just another person – no better and no worse.

My accomplishments are incredible. No humbleness there. I think what I’ve done, how I’ve grown, how far I’ve come from where I began, and how I’ve reached out to the touch the world in a positive way… I think all these accomplishments are truly praiseworthy. I am proud of myself. (no one heard that, right?) But I do not believe that my story stands above others’ stories. I am in awe of what some of my friends have crawled through to get to the beautiful human being that they are today. I remain humble enough to know that I have much to learn, and that I can only learn what I need to by being silent sometimes and learning from others.

My character has both created my path and has been shaped by my journey. My character constantly changes, and that is due to the experiences of my life: attempts and failures as well as accomplishments.

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