Are You Modest Or Just Unsatisfied And Insufferable?

2013 July 9

I’ve been a brat – an ungrateful wretch, even – and it’s only dawning on me now.

I’m a validation junkie. Land a new client, write a piece that goes viral, get invited to speak on radio or be interviewed in a national newspaper and I’m on cloud nine – at least for 10 minutes. And then the excitement wears off and I go looking for the next thrilling achievement. When people seem impressed by something I’ve done, I struggle with being gracious about it, because there’s always a “yes, but…” involved.  There’s always a mean little voice in the back of my end asking me what’s next or telling me that, sure, this golden opportunity is swell and all, but wouldn’t it be better if it were platinum?

This is no way to be. Not only does it mean I live in a permanent state of dissatisfaction, it also makes me a difficult person to be around. It’s like your Size 2 friend who is always complaining about how fat she is. How tedious and annoying is she? I’ve come to realize that my issues with achievement and gratitude are just that – mine. Dumping them on unsuspecting friends and colleagues is not cool. Being dismissive of accomplishments that others might aspire to doesn’t make you relatable or modest, it makes you look like a tone-deaf, uncouth jerk. And it also makes you pretty damn hard on yourself. Instead of taking genuine pride and pleasure in accomplishments that you’ve worked hard to bring about, you’re always looking for the brown spot on the apple, waiting for the other shoe to drop, scared of savoring a moment because a monster might spring out from behind that tree and pop all your balloons and laugh in your face for ever daring to celebrate in the first place. It’s very tiring.

I have a byline at Forbes. I’ve interviewed a famous musician I admire and one of my feminist heroes and am about to interview my favorite movie director. I launched my own business in earnest in March and have gone from reading Eric Ries’s The Lean Startup as part of my old job’s book club to landing The Lean Startup Conference as my client and being on Google Hangouts with Eric. The fact that there’s always more that I want to do and see and be shouldn’t get in the way of appreciating what I’ve already done, seen and been. And, from now on, I’m going to make a real effort to ensure it doesn’t – both for me and for all the great people in my life who have no doubt been silently wishing I’d just chill the $#%^&* out already.

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