The love affair called my ego

I’m afraid of my ego:

By the time someone takes a shot at it, it’s usually already taken over and done damage along the way.

It’s like a secret, ironic, self-centered love affair. The times I start thinking so highly of myself are also when I forget how much I am thinking about myself. I start inflating my personal opinions into universal paradigms. I think my ideas are superior, and stop listening to anyone else’s as a result. Yet the affair is never truly secret, because even if its culprit can’t recognize it, the outside world almost always can.

The thing is, I surround myself with friends and family who love and support me… and are not the first to criticize me outright. When they do, though, it really means something.

…When I was a senior in high school, I was an anchorwoman for our broadcast news show. It aired every Wednesday and Friday morning, which also happened to be the days for my best outfits. I was recognized in the hallways, and students I didn’t know, knew me. With such material for ego-boosting, my head ballooned – easily.

Is it coincidence that it’s senior year again, and God’s given me another avenue of public expression? This time, the column in The Daily is one of the most enjoyable, most fun things I do. I absolutely love talking with my friends and writing about each week’s topic. I’ve remembered my old passion for writing. I feel like I can give a smile to campus each week. I feel like I can share things I’ve learned that could really, possibly, help someone else. It’s just plain old fun. It’s my dream job right now.

Simultaneously, it’s a test of my humility. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s not the world, that it doesn’t take up much space in other people’s heads. But, of course, it can certainly do so in mine. Writing a column about social stuff sometimes fools me into thinking I “know” how people work; but I’m not the sage of society’s issues. Yes, that sounds obvious. No, I don’t always remember that.

I was talking about some of this with my brother today. I can’t remember exactly where we were conversing. I think I was up on another psychological pedestal, spewing high and mighty things about the world, culture, writing universal things, trying to be widely applicable, etc… And my brother responded that, still, the column could, actually, alienate some people. He said that sometimes I seemed to assume that people would think exactly the way I did about the world.

Well! I felt immediately hurt, my characteristically sharp tongue re-armed itself, and I prepared to snap back: “Jonathan, sorry, but I really don’t appreciate you attacking me like that.” Or, maybe, “WowthanksJonathan. But I don’t need that from you right now.” Or, something like, um –

But then, as the words were forming, about to launch themselves into the air, I couldn’t help but think… Huh. What is this violence in my head right now? But it was my ego, defending itself from a reality check.

I guess this is why I appreciate honest criticism: if it’s truly honest, it’s constructive. It helps rescue the people around me from becoming victims of Nina’s Ego. And it keeps me a healthy distance away from my own self.

Hey, y’all. I believe in the power of love. Just, you know, not when I send it all my own way…

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