You’re remembered by the things you do, the things you say, and the things you believe in. Here’s what I mean:
Friend of mine #1: Did you hear what happened to Thomas?
Friend of mine #2: Thomas? You mean the one who reads 24/7, supports gay rights, plays tennis, blogs, and calls himself fat all the time?
Hold up. I know what you’re thinking.
Thomas doesn’t have friends in real life. Why would Thomas’s friends say that he calls himself fat?
I have a problem. I self-deprecate. A lot.
I’m not saying that self-deprecation is a bad thing – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. In his book Thank You For Arguing, Jay Heinrichs states that self-deprecating is a good way to indirectly compliment yourself. By downplaying yourself to others, you can brag that you only have 25,000 subscribers and that you only make $200,000 a year. It’s like a socially acceptable form of arrogance.
That’s not the type of self-deprecation I’m against. Well, it is, sort of. But the form of self-deprecation I’m referring to is much worse. It’s when you actually believe the bad things you’re saying about yourself are true, even when they’re not. It’s poisonous, a mental parasite that takes over your mind and kills your self-confidence.
According to this BMI calculator, I’m not overweight or obese. My weight is normal. So why do I keep calling myself fat? Why do I think that that’s true when it’s not? To those of you who are like me: please stop. You’re not stupid, ugly, useless, or fat. It’s not appropriate to deride others, and it’s definitely not acceptable to ridicule yourself.
I’m stopping now. I’m listening to all of my friends and family that insist on arguing with me every time I insult myself, even though if I were them I would’ve given up a long time ago.
Small steps. Like a recovering smoker, I won’t go cold turkey; I’ll allow myself one self-deprecating comment per day until I stop completely. My goal will be to be rid of this curse by September 6, 2011 – the first day of my junior year. And to all of you who are trapped by your own insecurity, your own hurtful criticisms: you are not alone.
What do you think of self-deprecation? Is it beneficial or damaging? Do you self-deprecate?