Non sum dingleberry

There are times in these pages when I sound like I think of myself as lower than a fish fart in a flash flood, and readers have occasionally (gently) chastised me for saying so. I assure them, though, that I’ve got nothing on Robert Stacy McCain:

When I publicly blame myself for my failures, when I advertise to the world my inglorious humiliation, it is not in a bid for anyone’s pity, nor is it evidence of a “chemical imbalance,” but simply because to do the opposite — to give in to the temptation to seek scapegoats for my own failures — would be more harmful to me than any unfair dishonor that others might heap upon my name.

Not that anyone’s seeking to heap dishonor upon my name of late, but I figure that if anyone is going to mock me, it might as well be me, since I’m demonstrably good at it, even if I flout a law of grammar in so doing.

Given the opportunities I’ve had, and mindful of the unmerited blessings bestowed upon me, if I fall short of achieving any goal within my boundless ambition, no one else is to blame but me. If others do not recommend or praise me, this is my fault and not theirs, and it would be great folly indeed to think that I deserve any more praise — or any less criticism — than I get. Others more praiseworthy have been ignored, and others less blameworthy have been rejected and condemned.

Here is where we diverge. I chose to impose an upper boundary on my ambition, a far-simpler task: it earns about the same number of difficulty points as, say, trying to teach a dog to appreciate steak.

Everyone thinks they deserve more praise, and no one is so truly modest as to mean it when they dismiss as undeserved such praise as they get.

In my own case, it’s not so much modesty as it is suspicion: why would somebody say a thing like that?

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3 comments

  1. fillyjonk »

    10 October 2011 · 1:22 pm

    Then again: I learned there’s something that’s worse (at least for me) than not being praised when you feel like you earned it. It’s getting gloopy, fulsome, unctuous over-praise for some damn little thing that you did and then forgot about. It’s the equivalent of ordering a slice of cake at a restaurant and finding a wee tiny slice of nice cake under a gigantic mound of over-sweetened, artificially-colored frosting with whipped cream on top of it.

    Not being praised at all is better than needing an insulin shot after you have.

  2. McGehee »

    10 October 2011 · 3:37 pm

    It’s getting gloopy, fulsome, unctuous over-praise for some damn little thing that you did

    Indeed. Even if I considered the damn little thing praiseworthy, the gloop, fulsomeness and unctuosity only serves to make me wish I hadn’t done it in the first place.

    I suppose if I placed more value on other people’s opinions I might feel differently.

  3. Charles Pergiel »

    11 October 2011 · 2:43 pm

    Suspicion comes from knowing something about the praiser, or perhaps just the company (s)he is keeping.

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