The Drawbacks Of Humildad
In my family, humility has always been an important virtue. Culturally speaking, humility may be important because of the ever-present cultural permeating from Catholicism, but also because it’s a characteristic of the working class. And, ultimately, I believe that valuing humility played an important role in my family’s American Dream. That humility allowed them to rise from an immigrant family struggling to get by to a family of college-educated professionals in just a generation. If you’re not too good to do a job, then you’re willing to do whatever it takes to take care of your family (or finish college, start a business, make life better for your own children, etc.)
But humility, I’ve found, also has its drawbacks.
Recently I’ve had several conversations with other Latino/a professionals and we’ve been forced to tell each other the same thing: stop being so humble! The fact is, in our capitalist, dog-eat-dog American world, humility won’t get you very far — no matter how well-intentioned it is!
That’s even more the case in a media environment driven by inherently narcissistic social media platforms that increasingly figure into one’s professional value. How many Twitter followers do you have? How many friends on Facebook? Who do you know? These types of questions intrinsically bash humility as a value, nudging us instead towards another, more unabashed value that also starts with an H: hubris.
Will you get as far professionally in today’s world if you don’t mention which Ivy League school you attended in the first five minutes of meeting someone? The answer among my informal research pool is “no.” We all agreed that we have to be much more active in letting others know how chingón, or chingona, we are if we want to succeed. The values of our parents and grandparents — and dare I say my own values — just don’t provide a whole lot of mileage in the 21st century, 2.0 working world.
So what’s a Latina to do?
Luckily, it seems human beings are complex creatures that can compartmentalize frivolous things like humility and hubris according to social needs. For example, inherent to the work of communicators like myself these days is being able to prove the value of communication via Twitter followers or pageviews — speaking highly of oneself, in other words. Meanwhile, my personal conversations with my humility-bound friends continue.
In this way, I suppose humility and hubris needn’t be polar opposites. I can accept that the two may co-exist, but not that this doesn’t create conflict for me as I make my way through the professional world, bouncing between singing my own praises and trying to be a good employee for my boss. Then it would appear that humility, like all things, is best taken in moderation.
After all, is not bragging about the virtues of humility a little bit, well, lacking in humility?