“It’s not good to look down on yourself, but it’s also a bit rude to the people around you.”
– Megumi Chihaya, Servant x Service
Episode 9, “Do you have it? Mental Capacity and the Accumulation of Feelings”
The woman who says this has some experience with people looking down on themselves. Her boyfriend, for instance, often seems to think that others must view him in some sort of negative light. Now one of her coworkers is questioning if she’s good enough or stylish enough or whatever to be in this upscale clothing shop that Chihaya has brought her to. I mean, this shop is full of gowns and such, while she just wears jeans and plain shirts. That’s when Chihaya says this, and it just struck me how true it is.
Modesty can be a tricky thing.
Lots of people build themselves up, bragging and boasting and swaggering around like they own the world, and while that is annoying, modesty is often looked down on. As for those who do try to practice it, they tend toward self-deprecating comments. They can’t even take a compliment, like, you say, “You look so pretty,” and they respond with a list of perceived flaws in their appearance. And it is all too common for people to rag on themselves in thought and in conversation.
But self-deprecation can be as sad and annoying as boasting.
It’s not vain to simply accept a sincere compliment. It’s what someone else sees in you, after all, and they just voiced a positive judgment of what they see, so isn’t it discourteous to just blithely dismiss that? If they see something good, then insulting yourself insults them too. The same is true when you constantly question if you’re good enough for such-and-such. If someone gives you their time and attention, it’s just annoying if you constantly think you aren’t good enough for it, ya know?
So, modesty, I think, is just like any other virtue: it needs to be practiced in moderation. Balance is the key, always balance.
Refusing to puff ourselves up is not the same thing as endlessly bringing ourselves down. We are good enough for (fill-in-the-blank), especially if we keep striving to improve ourselves, and self-improvement is like digging in a mine. It begins after we find something we want, and it continues only as long as we keep finding it.
Let me just end with voicing an apology to my friends, who have endured my own self-deprecation on numerous occasions. I am very sorry, and I will strive to do better, partially for myself, and partially for you, who have already considered me worth your time and effort. Thank you. You help me be a better person.