Short of humility

Every so often, I’m tempted to get a big head. Like when yet another woman from my department remarks on what a great teacher I am. Like when the guy in front of me in biochemistry thinks I’m a Ph.D. student. Like when another classmate in biochem thinks I’m a professor (really?)

Then I try to take a more objective look at things. So I’m a good teacher. Maybe I am. But it’s not by any personal merit. I love teaching, I love the material, I love imparting knowledge. It makes me come alive. But this is what teaching does to me, not what I do to it.

And why would people think I’m so much smarter than I am? No idea. But it’s just an illusion. I look put together. I sound like I know what I’m talking about. I ask questions to clarify what the professor said to make sure that I’m understanding the information correctly. Not that I’m actually that smart. A Ph.D? Even a Ph.D. student?

Not that I haven’t thought about it. But, truth is, I’m a (2nd year) Master’s student who’s currently overwhelmed by school and hasn’t even written her thesis proposal.

In the euphoria of teaching, I consider the further education to be just a tiny hurdle to overcome. But when I come off the buzz, even just finishing my master’s seems insurmountable.

The thousand dreams compete with one another for first place, and I think in a moment of stillness: maybe I’ll just drop out of school and get married and spend the next ten years barefoot and pregnant.

Problem is, I want to do that and STILL have the master’s degree, and get to teach, and run a church-based community center, and have a ginormous library, and write the great American novel, and bike across the state of Nebraska, and be a world traveler, and be a lactation consultant, and be a doula, and be a player in the political scene, and, and, and…

I’m caught in the difficult middle between a fierce pride that wants to do everything well and a false modesty that states that I do nothing so well as I’d like.

C.S. Lewis suggested that a truly humble man would be quite unprepossessing, not at all interested in what others thought of him, far more interested in others themselves. I am definitely not that humble man. I care way too much about where I fall on my own and others’ charts. I’m proud to have topped theirs, humiliated that I have fallen so short of my own. Neither is anywhere near humility.

1 thought on “Short of humility”

  1. You said this so well. All of it, but especially this: “I’m proud to have topped theirs, humiliated that I have fallen so short of my own. Neither is anywhere near humility.”
    Amen. I’m with you in this struggle.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.