Two Humilities

There are two types of humility.

The first requires your eyes to remain downcast in half-shame. Under its influence you feel vulnerable and ignorant, you’re constantly aware of how little you know, and as a result you succumb to the opinions and whims of those who you perceive to be more knowledgeable than yourself.

The second makes you feel powerful, not for your lack of knowledge, but for what you know it represents: growth and the certainty you will one day know what you don’t today. It brings a clarity of self-awareness, healthy personal limitations, and the desire to expand your own boundaries further and further.

One of these two is the kind of humility preferred by those who would have you follow their instructions and morality. Keeping your head bowed makes you easier to indoctrinate and lead.

The other makes you capable of understanding where you fit and gives you perspective on how far you’ve come while still granting awareness of how far you have to go. It immunizes you against those who would tell you that you’re less than you are, which would leave you struggling to live up to their moral standards rather than defining your own.

To be humble can mean being meek, head bowed in reverence to the presumed grandness of everyone except yourself, or it can mean pursuing a truly grand existence, for yourself and everyone else.

I know which I choose.

Update: February 20, 2017

I would add that we have an unhealthy obsession with the first type of humility, and romanticize it, while simultaneously mythologizing people who are the exact opposite. Our heroes are brazen and bold and self-deterministic, but it’s societally correct to know your damn place. Only by extracting ourselves from these opposite expectations can we create a more realistic and beneficial means of self-definition.