I have no problem being or sounding self-congratulatory. The alternative (waiting for others to congratulate you) is much worse.
[ 3 min read ]
I have noticed that some people (probably even majority — still the majority) don’t like it that people in this new era (of social media, mainly) don’t like it when others are, or sound, self-congratulatory.
Obviously, the reason they don’t like it is that they had soaked up a certain belief growing up (like probably the majority of us), that being or sounding self-congratulatory is bad. That we shouldn’t behave like that. That we should wait until others will find virtue in us or recognize us for what we accomplished (for the success that we achieved) and will congratulate us on this. That’s, according to many people (including my mom — I mention her not because I think she’s evil, but because I know that people of her generation, especially people of her generation, don’t approve of any behavior which might even indirectly be self-congratulatory), the legit reason to feel good about ourselves. Other than that, i.e. when you are congratulating yourself on something (rather than wait until others will do that for you — like some grand jury in a contest), it doesn’t count.
I think that the alternative (waiting for others to congratulate you on your successes, to recognize you as an artist or a writer for example, or something else — but mainly, I guess, it concerns artists and writers) is a bad idea. I understand that in many cultures waiting for others to congratulate you on your successes, or to recognize you as this or that is perceived as the right thing to do. That’s what decent people do. Decent people give up the right to assess their own efforts and work and assume that it’s not their job to be judges of their own efforts and work. Which, quite obviously, leads to being judged by others by their standards and with the use of their definitions of such things like virtue, success, achievement, good life.
Which, further, means (it’s implied) that only they (other people — the majority) are competent to judge / evaluate what you do or did. Only they have the right to do it. Only they have the right to award you a prize. They know when it should be done, whereas you don’t. They know the right meaning of the word “success” or “masterpiece”, whereas your personal opinion (your own definition, a definition which is different than the definition the majority espoused) doesn’t matter.
You can do it yourself, of course, but it will not count. When you’re not recognized by other people (the majority) as an artist or a writer, then, clearly, you are not one. If a prize has not been given to you by others (a special committee representing our species) then it’s nothing, worthless. Only when they gave it to you it really means something. Even doing what an artist or a writer does each day is not enough. Thus calling yourself an artist or a writer (because you perceive yourself as one — because you do what an artist or a writer does) is not enough. You must wait until the public will perceive you as one. Meaning, someone who is respected and recognized as competent in those matters in the society (a critic, a journalist, another artist or writer, a professor) must write about you in some serious publication and call you an artist or a writer. Or the same person must write about your work and call it genius or promising. Then you’re somebody. Then you have success.
I choose to ignore this bullshit rule which is present in most cultures and which is there because of inertia. Because not enough people would even think of questioning it, let alone actually question it. Because it’s what we mindlessly soak up growing up, because we’re being told (and also automatically assume) that what our parents and other adults tell us is the right stuff.