This was one afternoon I’ll never forget. Two people, one room, and I wondered if anyone heard the volume of my emotions through the walls. When our words were exchanged in your small room, they were like small sparks that ricocheted from the papers and wood of your desk. All in a matter of a minute, the room felt smaller and hot, but the space between us grew. I was taken back by what you said but I should have been more taken back by how I acted. Without revealing too much about who and where, I learned a lesson about my ego and how being where I am right now is the best time to make mistakes, not recklessly, but in a manner where I keenly learn and don’t repeat those mistakes again.
I never considered myself an egotistical person until I reflected on how I reacted when someone gave me feedback I did not take well. I always thought of an egotistical person as one who’s arrogant, someone with a ravenous appetite to be full of oneself, someone who can never admit to their wrongs… the list can go on. But I suppose we know only what we feel and think, but not always how others feel and think about us.
Humans are conditioned to be comfortable, or at least, we get used to events that occur on a predictable routine, like people we see on a daily basis, lifting the same dumbbell at a certain weight, or in my instance, being fed compliments and consistently given plates of acknowledgement and appreciation. I’ve dined on desserts getting to know the sweet taste of being valued and needed, but we all know too many sweets can make one sick. After a buffet of nothing but positivity and praise, when I was served a dish I forgot existed, the gluttonous animal in me was repulsed by the flavors and aftertaste. I caught a swift glimpse, of the monster that I was, in the always sparkling silver plate, but the hand that fed me was mine, for it was my own ego I had tasted.
I had let all the delicious and satisfying treats of adoration fill my head, inflate my ego, and I was left wondering why my head hurt when you told me I had to work on myself. Perhaps I was not as diligent as I thought I was. Perhaps it was tunnel vision, a food-induced coma of compliments and smiles, the excitement of knowing what I could do with my skills, or a mix of all three. There certainly can be more reasons as to why I felt so powerful yet fragile but it does not matter why my nasty ego came out. What matters now is that I no longer feed my ego in order to the maintain the beast of arrogance and pride inside of me.
You see, an ego must always be fed. An ego is supreme yet shatterable because it makes me feel grand, better than all, like a king who can conquer all the lands and yet, it can be ruined when the slightest risk not being liked looms and the terror settles in when I realize that having such an ego is like living in a glass house. When the day is alive, the refulgent light floods the house with a warmth I’ll never stop yearning for and the sunlight soaks my skin with happiness. But when the night comes, darkness has no mercy and I wonder if I’m safe at all. My ego cries for the day to return because in the dark my insecurity reeks. Am I confident or am I dependent on others praising me?
Is it ever possible to live without an ego? How do we live without seeing ourselves in our actions and who we allow to be in our lives? Do we keep our ego at a healthy size? My thought is that the ego can be maintained and set at a nondistracting distance. Sizable enough to keep us aware of who we are and what we’d like to be, but not too large where we hurt others and ourselves with the blind assumption that we are who we are not.
At 24, I am still figuring out to swim with the waves of my ego. For the most part, it comes in soft waves of just confidently and politely kissing the sand with the right amount of sanity to keep the peace of the waters. But that one afternoon, that was a storm because my ego erupted from the bottom of the ocean and sought to demolish whoever dared to humble me. It wasn’t pretty, but it was necessary. Growth isn’t easy nor is it comfortable, but it’s a beautiful sight to see when the seas have calmed and the air is safe.
Thank you for reading!