Can you be proud yet insecure?

Recently my husband said something that took me by utter surprise. (By recent I mean over a year , maybe two?...definitely less than seven). Too be clear, he does say something surprising on the daily and I, in majority of cases, usually pass it off with my rather obnoxious laugh or a stern look followed by a smile. This time though, it was a bit weird. This time around I had to pause and really think hard. Think hard in that , can this be yet another one of those pass it off moments or does it require deeper introspection?

Before I play defense let me first reveal what triggered this all. What was so ludicrous about this statement that it led me to right a whole 1000+ words on it after all?



"You have a big ego."

Wait a minute. I have a what now? Excuse me? Huh?

For someone who has grown up in not only a relatively meager income/lower- middle class family, but also in one of the poorest countries in the world, I always thought myself to be humble (sometimes by chance and not choice!).

Always painfully shy, nodder than a talker, observer than a speaker, always in doubt and easy to get swayed. My humility, I believed came from equal portions within my home and outside my home. Within the home from many a things but mostly from an elder brother who has till date kept me in line (siblings always manage to do that, and I am better for that) and outside the home from snide comments via no filter Aunties, Uncles or "friends" (I could have done better with less here).

Throw in a patriarchal plus a class based society and dare I say, the burden of a perfectionist attitude , I was humble. Never a straight A student, barely passing by, always acutely aware or made aware of what I did not have, hey I was humble! Never the tallest, smallest, brightest, prettiest, funniest or boldest, heck not even the weirdest in the room, dammit I was humble!

So now that we have (in a very scientifically sound method) established that I was humble let's try and piece out when did I am humble change to I was humble or more importantly how?

My ex boss once said - "Your partners are like mirrors- they show you who you really are, your weakness, your faults , your true self."

My husband is one of those few personalities who I actually hear. Hear out to make a change in meself, aiming that I truly better my self. So when he said I have a big ego I knew there was nothing beguiling in this remark. He was just holding a mirror. It took me a several stares in this mirror to figure out what he really meant when he said I have a big ego or more importantly the CAUSE of this big ego. With this mirror I went down a bit of rabbit hole too. A deep hole that at its end, dawned on me that in my zeal for justice and fairness I had mistakenly interchanged or expected one for the other and while a dictionary might ask you to treat them the same, I (humbly !) beg to differ. For while we live in a fair world , it is not always just. We equal measure also live in a just world that is not always fair. We live in grey. We are the very creators of this grey and at the same time the victims. Grey is life and that is ok. Because in our monotonous rain of everyday life it is that very grey that makes the rainbow pop. Grey is that drudgery that makes us appreciate the "simpler things in life". Grey is not a dead end, it is just life.

This mirror also led me to see from a very different perspective of what it meant to be born where I was born, my scars, my upbringing, my idiosyncrasies, those lost opportunities , the hurt I have caused a few (pray only a few), my whole life experiences & how many of those I had under/over played in my mind. In other words my core fundamentals - that bloody heavy loaded gun.

In some parts always feeling like the underdog, I realized I was wrong in thinking that while championing my own cases, I was championing en masse - for right, for justice and for fairness. Which begs the question does my stance of "moral high ground" manifest itself in a big ego? Is it the cause or the effect? What does morality have to do with ego? Am I mixing one for another yet again?


Digging my heels into this slush of core fundamentals, ethics, morality, ego and the whole shebang, what came to me was that while all the above points did in fact influence some part of my ego, they did not contribute to an inflated ego. Inflation was aided by something we are rather dismissive of in today's fast paced- twitter-reel-world.


"A man's life is what his thoughts make of it." ~Marcus Aurelius.

I realized that the issue was not my rumpled fundamentals leading to an inflated ego, rather it were the very thoughts that led me to the inflated ego. Thoughts of somewhat know it all attitude, thoughts that I knew what is right and what is wrong, thoughts I knew how to distinguish one from the other , thoughts that I deserved justice, thoughts that I deserved fairness, thoughts that I deserved equality, thoughts that I deserved equity and more thoughts that I deserved...

This word "deserve" is as insidious as it is deceiving. For who really is born deserving? What do we mean when we throw the word deserve around? Now true we all deserve basic human rights, and that is not what I am shooting for here rather it is that gnawing feeling of thinking we live in weird world of misaligned "deserves" and "worth".

Now that I am old, I am sure of one thing and that is - I don't have all the answers and that is ok. Sure also that it is better to live with a dictionary that does not have the word deserve in it. And as I continue to grow older I aim to never forget that ego (big or small) is the enemy that is best not given any recognition.