“I’m So Great – I’m So Awesome”, by Rachael Flanagan, Fiat Ventures

Flicker User Ben Aston

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

When I was in high school, I started to gain a reputation for being pretty good at a lot of things. I worked hard, studied, practiced, rehearsed, and all of that started to pay off by giving me a great, big, enormous ego. Eventually, I began to learn something about building a giant pedestal and putting yourself on it – the higher you build yourself up, the more it will hurt when you fall off it.  And that’s what began to happen to me.

As a junior, I was the best saxophone player in my band and I was pretty comfortable with that. That’s when a freshman boy came along who was better than I was, and challenged me for First Chair. We had to settle it in a playing competition that was judged by our Director. I beat him, but I knew deep down it was only because he got nervous and flubbed up. He had talent that I couldn’t even pretend to have.

Going into my senior year in Cross Country, I was pretty proud of myself for having 6 varsity letters between cross and track. Then a squad of lightning-fast freshman girls came along and knocked the upper classmen off varsity. One girl took the State Champion title that year.

In college as an acting major, I played the title character in our fall play as a sophomore, and ever after, consistently played lead roles. For my very last play in my final semester of college, I thought I had the lead role in the bag – it was a role I was normally typecast for (an ingénue

who dies – turns out I was really good at fake dying on stage), and I was beat out by a younger actress.

Ouch. All of these situations stung, but a big part of that was because I got cocky and basically walked around thinking to myself “Look at me! I’m so great, I’m so awesome. I’m better than everyone else!”

The readings this week at Mass are all about humility. In the first reading, the words of Sirach read wise and sage as Yoda: The greater you are, more humble you must be. Loved by God you will be. Loved by all, you will be.Jesus gives us some great practical advice for avoiding embarrassment. When invited to a wedding, “take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’” This is better than the mortification of being told, “Yeah, actually there is someone more important than you here, and I’m going to need you to get up and move to the kiddie table.”

My ego is still pretty big…but these days I try to work on being humble.  When someone compliments me on some project or another, instead of letting it go to my head, I thank them and I also try to highlight the work of others that made whatever I did possible.  Whenever I start thinking to myself how great I am at something, I try to surround myself with people who are better than me, and though it brings me back down to earth, I end up learning from them and getting even better myself.  So find some ways this week to work on humility – and if you keep your eyes on God and not on yourself, you’ll be well on your way. 

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