Thursday, March 10, 2005

Cocky: A Balancing Act


irst off, the title should not be associated with the previous topic. Instead it deals with an earlier post that responded to Ydurp's comment, one in which I mentioned that I was self-effacing and/or self-deprecating. (And it's self-deprecating, not self-defecating; who said that?) But RachelsMommy--that lightening rod of a commenter--had a different opinion...

Visit RachelsMommy's Xanga Site!I guess, I never saw that before: your sef deprecation. I always thought you had a sort of cockiness, or perhaps false bravado. Just shows to go ya; It's hard to read a person through the written word.

No bout adoubt it, sister. Certainly, I have problems through IMs. This is what probably brought about the birth of *shudder* emoticons. Being able to convey your attitude strictly through words is what separates the good writers from the so-so ones. Since Ydurp read me one way and RachelsMommy read me another way, I guess that makes me a so-so writer--yes, ydurp, I'm being self-effacing again.

But in my own defense, I would like to say that I'm actually a little of both, or maybe a lot of both. I am self-effacing as I wrote in the previous post, but I do have a lot of bravado in me--although I take umbrage at the idea that it might be construed as false. The bravado or cockiness is based on two things: I am the eldest son, and as such, I was raised believing I was usually right. At this age, of course, I realize intellectually that I am wrong as often as I am right, but the attitude doesn't disappear, at least not for me.

The other factor is my profession. I stand in front of a class and I have to be right. Again, I may not be right all the time, but I have to convey my conviction of what I know. But if I am wrong, or if I don't know the answer, I will usually admit it with the same attitude. In my opinion, the instructor who pretends to know things when he doesn't--and this is false bravado--ultimately looks weaker and loses the respect of the student.

Lastly, in a weird, twisted kind of way, being self-effacing can convey a sense of cockiness. You'd have to be pretty cocky to admit to being wrong, or ugly or careless to a group of students--of course, this also depends on the circumstances. I never lie about ignorance or other things I have no control over. But I will never fess up to failing to do things that I do have control over, because that simply identifies you as lazy, careless and uncaring. That is something I would never want to convey to my students.

So, in the end, I think I am both self-effacing and cocky. It is a balancing act that I have tried to perfect with varying degrees of success. Being self-deprecating all the time gets boring very quickly. Who wants to be with a person who is always whining about his insufficiencies. Conversely, being cocky all the time conveys arrogance, and no one wats to hang with a braggart. The right combination of both will represent me as confident with the right amount of modesty. At least, that's my formula.

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