I care too much about modesty.  And that means downplaying achievements, catering to rather than challenging against.  I care too much about your approval.  And that means timidity, swallowing grievances and deferring to your demands.  I care too much about how you perceive me.  And that means I will edit myself; I will censor my words; I will put myself down.

It’s easy to be modest or arrogant.  Because, really, they’re both about self-validation; the first seeks it from other people, and the second fights for it at the expense of other people.  It’s much harder to be humble.  To not be self-centered at all.

“Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody…He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.”

-C.S. Lewis

When was the last time that I did something without worrying whether I will do better than the next person? Because if my self-worth came down to everything single thing that I do, then I have to do every single thing right.  It would be subject to the harshest criticism and vulnerable to the smallest of mistakes.  And self-worth is too valuable, too precious to depend on me.  So when I do something, whether it’s for work or leisure, I want to do it because I enjoy what I am doing, not because I am the best at what I do.  When you are humble…

“You are focused on the concrete circumstances of what you are doing, not on your reputation or worth.”

-David Brooks from “IMHO” (NYtimes)

I wanted to bring something nice for my coworker’s birthday.  At first, I imagined a 9-inch double layer strawberry shortcake to share with everyone.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I pulled the cake out from the oven that I noticed the racks were slanted.  To salvage my extremely lopsided spongecake, I took a large cookie cutter and cut out two four inch wide circles and stacked them on top of one another to make a mini double layer cake.

The first thing I did when I gave my co-worker her gift was to apologize for the cake’s imperfections.  And she says that I always apologize for my baking.  She’s right.  I do, and I apologize for a lot of other things that I don’t need to apologize for.  I think if I want to be on the track to humility, the first thing I will do is to stop saying “Sorry.”

Strawberry Shortcake from La Fuji Mama

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