First reaction: Oh shut up you ninny, you sound like a proper Finn!
Then I started reading the said article and felt a bit conflicted. Here, I thought, is another example of making something relatively simple into a complicated mess that nobody can find the end of.
So, let us simplify it a bit: Pride has different definitions depending on which direction you are approaching it from. As the above article explains there is a positive definition and a negative one. The positive definition goes:
A feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by others.
Yeah, I’d buy that. The negative definition on the other hand goes:
A feeling that you are more important or better than other people.
Now, the article has been written by John Amodeo, who is a rewarded author and a psychotherapist. But despite all of that I, a young woman searching for her dream job with Bachelor’s Degree as her only (scholar) qualification, am going to disagree with him!
This sentence in particular raised my eyebrows:
“Pride prevents us from acknowledging our human vulnerabilities. This shame-driven pride makes us too uncomfortable to say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong, I made a mistake.””
So… a person who is able to recognize when they have made a mistake, and is also able to acknowledge it, can’t be proud?
I consider myself to be very proud, especially on Finnish standards but ‘pride’ and ‘arrogance’ are two completely different things in my book. The above definition of negative pride is just a description of arrogance in my humble opinion. A proud person can easily become arrogant. But then they are no longer proud, they’re just plain arrogant.
It’s quite simple; if you think yourself superior to your co-workers, your countrymen, or even to your family you’ve got an issue that needs resolving. Because the fact that goes into the same box with other ultimate facts, like the fact that our planet is round, and after day comes night, is the fact that we. Are. All. JUST. Human. Beings. Nothing more, nothing less. Every single one of us. Sorry to break it to you.
It doesn’t matter what educational or professional credentials you’ve got, or how refined your family background might be, you will eventually die just like the student who can’t get a job despite all their efforts or the poor bugger spending their nights on the streets begging for scraps. And I can promise you (and prove it!) that leading a kinder and more considerate life pays off rather than being arrogant af and thinking you’re somehow above the rest.
The sense of respecting your “superiors” has somehow eluded me. It’s like those genes or digits in my DNA were never included in the package, just like that one nail that you’d need to complete a piece of Ikea furniture. I’ve never seen anyone being superior to me, I see just human beings.
This simple view of my fellow humans has also been aided by the fact that in Finland at school you should respect your teacher as authority and do as they tell you because it’s for your benefit, but teachers were never made to seem like some sort of unreachable actor that you should never approach because they are above you. We could call our teachers by their name even though calling them “the teacher” felt more natural. This has affected the way we also look at our managers when we enter the life of professions; they are not all-knowing and unavailable and there’s no reason to fear reaching out to them if it feels necessary.
That lack of ‘fear’ and unquestioned respect for authority has in fact acted for my benefit. Already as a child I saw it as a great injustice that I should treat elderly people with respect if they had violently pushed or caned me out of their way on a bus. Old age is no excuse for lack of manners. I will respect you if you deserve it. But if you disrespect me you can be damn sure that I will show you no mercy either. You reap what you sow, right?
Examples, you say? Well, here you go:
It was pride, not arrogance when I refused to work when my salary was not paid on time. I said I would start working again when the money was on my account because we are in the EU, for f*ck’s sake, and salary being paid late should NEVER happen! Having kept on working normally would only have shown the management that oh, she’s a push-over, she doesn’t even need to be paid. I raised a hell of a racket and contacted all kinds of people on all kinds of levels and from next month onwards our salaries were paid a week in advance, just in case.
It was pride, not arrogance when I refused to serve a line-jumping Russian family and told them to get to the back of the line and queue like normal people.
It was pride, not arrogance when I lied about being a lesbian to an interviewer in a job interview, where they illegally asked me (in third interview in a row) about my relationship status. As a side note I might let you know that the interviewer’s comment, however, was extremely arrogant: “Hah, no you’re not.”
And it is pride, not arrogance that has kept me going from one disaster to the next, from one failure to the next, from one disappointment to the next. Because I still think I’m good enough and I deserve the things that I want and I’m willing to work to reach them, no matter how many dead-ends I need to climb over.
That’s what I’m most proud of about my life! The ability to see and respect myself honestly, with all the faults and advantages, and be able to demand that respect from others. Because unfortunately sometimes I need to demand it. I look like a 20-year-old even though I’m almost 30, I’m blonde, I’m skinny and I dress nicely, which are all things that automatically bring certain stereotypes and judgements to people’s minds when they meet me and which need to be shaken off instantly.
I’m also very proud of the fact that all that pride that I feel for myself resonates outwards as well, which means that I am able to put myself in other people’s shoes before judging them, I am able to take their criticism and apologize when necessary, and I am able to treat people with all the respect that they deserve.
Because we’re all the same at the end of the day, despite our background, upbringing or dreams. Nobody’s better than the rest, not even if you were the next Stephen Hawking (although you’d be pretty awesome).