I recall watching the moon in kind of a daze, awed at its brilliance and the distance between me and the universe. Later, I would hear the Dr. say-”How are you feeling, Do you know where you are?” I didn’t have a clue; my last memory was glorious.
Bed-Stuy never seemed so alive; the moonlight illuminated the city blocks. It was bright even though it was night. The reflections of the sun’s light intensified my senses, and as I strolled through familiar neighborhoods, I’d dip in and out of reality.
I know what you think; this guy was high out of his mind. I can assure I wasn’t high. Now, I have dabbled in herbal life way before Herbal Life; like Bill Clinton, I smoked the sticky icky, but I didn’t inhale; that’s a lie, I did inhale.
On the night in question, I was in the throes of a manic episode that eventually landed me in the hospital. Did you know they allow you to make phone calls when you’re in a mental ward? Yeah, they do, but you don’t have a phone in your room, you must go down to the social worker’s office to place the call.
“Please don’t leave me in here to die,” were the words I uttered to Yvonne. She’s my older sister.
I needed a place to stay. Finding housing was a condition of my release from the hospital. You hear people talk about swallowing their pride. At the time, I felt stranded alone in the Sahara desert parched. Pride wouldn’t have quenched my thirst because I was fresh out.
Do you have any idea how pride tastes? If I had to guess its taste like castor oil, licorice, and candy corn.
One must not confuse pride and self-love, two passions very different in their nature and in their effects. Self-love is a natural sentiment which prompts every animal to watch over its own conservation. Pride is only a relative, artificial sentiment born in society, a sentiment which prompts each individual to attach more importance to himself than to anyone else. ~Rousseau
We feel better about ourselves when we’re in control
Connecticut’s move wasn’t part of the plan, but I’ve been here for ten years. I ran my first marathon in Hartford, I launched my podcast and forged some fantastic relationships online and in real life. Our accomplishments have a way of making us feel whole; there’s nothing wrong with taking pride in what you do.
My pride wouldn’t allow me to stay at Yvonne’s house for long. I eventually moved to downtown Bridgeport and then to the RUNUTAINMENT STUDIOS in Wallywordl-that’s what I call the place I live; it’s where I record most of the episodes for the podcast. As an adult, you want to be in a position to do for yourself, and when you can’t, you start to feel inadequate.
Society tells us that by a certain age. We should have “(X, Y, & Z),” you know 2.5 kids, a house with a white picket fence, and a Labrador. I had those things while I was in my 20's-minus the Labrador. I was climbing the ladder to success only to realize it was leaning against the wrong building. That’s pride talking. It sounds suitable for this narrative. Yes, it is true, I was climbing the corporate ladder but I didn’t have a watershed moment where the heavens opened and my eyes were illuminated. A voice didn’t speak to me-”Derek you’re pursuing the wrong career.” No! What happened was, when I made it to the summit there was no one to celebrate the victory with.
Pride is cheap motivational fuel
Pride was driving me. I was being driven by pride. I had a chip on my shoulder. I thought I had something to prove to the world. “Something to prove” is cheap fuel.
You can’t put cheap fuel or oil in a high-performance vehicle. Pride caused me to get in my car and confront my director in person when he accused me of having a Welfare Mentality over the phone.
No, what you are not going to do is insult me and question my character or integrity over the phone; I’m going to need you to say that to my face.
That’s when it dawned on me it was time for me to look for another employer. Pride gave me the courage to leave a position as a Sr. Case Manager and take a job working overnight at Kinko’s that paid significantly less, but I was able to spend time with my children during the day-so the trade-off was worth it. Pride guided me through life, but I don’t want to die on the hill of hubristic pride.
I took great pride in my personal development, my library card was the best investment I’ve ever made, and it didn’t cost me a dime. I got hooked on books on tapes, yes cassette tapes; they kept me company during my daily commute.
Transitioning from social work to retail overnight wasn’t a leap. The tapes and CD’s proved to be a worthwhile investment. I became a District Trainer for Kinko’s and, subsequently, a Sr. Center Manager, I was doing well. I was right and the naysayers wrong. Nobody knew what a Kinko’s was at the time. Hell, I didn’t know what a Kinko’s was either. I knew I wasn’t living in harmony with my values, and I knew I was tired of the daily 2hr commute both ways from Long Island to Brooklyn.
At times I felt inadequate with the house. I wanted to be my own man, stand up on my own two feet. My father migrated to this country from Barbados and raised us in an apartment on the 3rd floor of a brownstone in Brooklyn while building a house in Barbados where he would later retire. That was my Dad’s story, which is a familiar immigrant story.
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. ~ Proverbs 16:18
If we’re not careful, we can lose sight of the big picture and start participating in actives that are diametrical to our core beliefs. There’s a popular bible verse about pride goeth before a fall. People like to use the scriptures as a tool to shame you into compliance. If you’re a Christian, Muslim, or Jew, there’s probably a religious text that serves as a moral compass for you and a light tower leading back home should you get off course.
The scriptures’ funny thing is that they have a comic undertone at times depending upon your mood. If you recently faced a setback because of your pride, you probably wouldn’t find that verse funny. Nope! You’d probably feel a combination of guilt and shame.
Guilt and shame how they work to tag-team your ego
Guilt and shame can be crippling if we allow them; they’ll keep us from walking into our destiny. As humans, we come equipped with these great features unless you’re a psychopath or a narcissist. I’m neither.
Daniel Sznycer, a social psychologist and assistant professor at the University of Montreal, says guilt and shame can lead to depression, anxiety, and paranoia, but they also nudge us to behave better, says Sznycer. “When we act in a way we are not proud of, the brain broadcasts a signal that prompts us to alter our conduct.”
Pride is a complex emotion, when we’re in the drivers seat it can ignite a powerful charge, blasting our accomplishments into the stratosphere leaving observers transfixed. Pride can also drive people to behave abominably.
Jessica Tracy, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia, looks at both sides in her book, titled — Take Pride: Why the Deadly Sin Holds the Secret to Human Success. Tracy makes the case for focusing on authentic pride and keeping our ego’s in check. Lance Armstrong, in his early years put in hours in training beating at his craft, pushing himself incredibly hard and it landed him at the top in his field. But somewhere in his career his focus shifted and he drifted into hubristic pride. There’s no denying the impact Armstrong had on the sport and the accomplishments off the asphalt through his Nonprofit organization LiveStrong.
Having solid people in your corner can keep you grounded, they can pull your coat tail and check you when you’re getting too close to the third rail-that’s not always that easy. Kevin Hart has a team of comedians, life long friends, who worked with him since day one; they support him during his successes and when he comes under scrutiny.
Even with a support system in place, and the best of intentions we can still have missteps and come up short; in those times learn from your mistakes, forgive yourself, allow yourself grace and move on.