You know I’m only trying to help, right?
Those are the words I heard from my sister the other day as I gave a frustrated response to her suggestion. It was such a genuine statement and equally loving and in that moment I had to re-assess my actions. Admittedly, that wasn’t the first thing I did. First, to save face, I explained how her attempt at help was sometimes annoying.
It’s true, people can come off as a bit condescending in their efforts to help. But this wasn’t one of those times. Instead, this was a time when my ego was a bit too inflated to see that I could be wrong in some way.
If someone were to collect data about how often I’m wrong in a 24-hour period, I’d probably be wrong half the time and that’s probably an underestimate. But if the same person were to instead ask me how often I’m wrong when I’m not being particularly candid or self-aware, I’d probably say 15% of the time and I’d also say I was overestimating. I’m sure that most people overly esteem themselves in varying degrees but I’ve never thought of how detrimental it can be.
If I were a psychologist, I’d probably trace my high self-esteem back to middle school. It’s the time in life where almost everyone looks really weird (thanks puberty!) but people are also beginning to stand out academically. Since I wasn’t a 10 in the looks department (who is in middle school?), it made sense to highly esteem my intellect. The only problem is that 10 years later, though the external situation is different, the internal damage has been done.
The problem came when I couldn’t admit to being wrong. Being wrong showed weakness, lack of intelligence, and just a general lack of awesomeness. But in reality, needing to be right shows the same thing. So when stubbornness got in the way of a relationship, which would win?
To be honest, the answer isn’t always clear cut. On a good day I’ll concede regardless of whether I’m right or wrong because I know I’d rather have a friend than the illusion of my superior intellect. But sometimes, I’ll keep going. Sometimes I’ll fight. Sometimes I’ll try to save face.
The only thing is, in the end, I think that’s all I will have saved.