You’re The Best! (But Keep Quiet About It)

3 min readDec 15, 2021

Hiding your greatness in a world of mixed messages and envy. Let’s be honest about wonderful we are

Man looking at another man talking on the phone
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels, Adapted by Author

Society generally looks down on braggarts. It’s the same society that wants everyone to be the best at everything. Confusing? Yes, especially when you attempt to measure up to society’s expectations with mixed messages. Win a race, secure a scholarship, write an amazing essay, but act like you didn’t notice you did all that. It seems the worst thing we can do is be proud of what we have obtained.

First, some people think it’s distasteful to talk about one’s gifts. Let’s take an example. Suppose someone writes an outstanding poem and receives an award. During the award acceptance speech, the person appears pleased with themselves. They smile. They laugh. They look self-appreciative and self-congratulatory. Wouldn’t many of us say that person isn’t humble? So, why should it be ok that other people recognize the achievements of someone, but not the person themselves? Wouldn’t that be a sort of lack of self-awareness?

As philosopher Jesús Vila says, and I paraphrase, “Should we lie about our accomplishments just so that people don’t feel uncomfortable with our success?”

I think many of us would feel less uncomfortable if the award-winner thanked a list of other people besides themselves for achieving the feat. If they looked down, their head bowed a little and spoke in even, measured tones. What does this say about ourselves, if we can’t allow someone to feel excited and pleased about good works they have done, or talents they possess?

In one of my previous jobs, during an interview, one of my coworkers seemed to be put off that the therapist we interviewed came in with some Ivy League swag. She thought the interviewer was boasting. My friend and coworker answered, “It’s not easy being a person of color trying to get a good job. She needed to display her positive qualities or else she might be overlooked.”

Sometimes we have to talk ourselves up because no one else will do it. Is that boastful? Maybe we are all a little uncomfortable that when another person gets ahead, we take it as a sign of our own inadequateness. Is our drive to equalize everyone under the guise of humility an excuse for us to avoid feeling envy?


M.Laufer is a writer and therapist