(TW: Brief mention of suicidal thoughts)
Why must we be so fucking modest all the time?
Dropping an “F” bomb in the first sentence may seem full on but I think it’s totally necessary &, if you don’t already share my heightened view on this, you’ll soon see why I’m shouting offensively enthusiastic expletives.
In the best case scenario, modesty can deprive us of a bit of a confidence boost in situations where we brush off a well intended compliment.
There are the times we turn a compliment from a positive opinion spoken from the heart into a cold fact that evokes countless awkward moments:
“My hair looks nice? Don’t be daft, I haven’t even straightened it”
“I’m good at my job? Well, I have to be – I get paid to do it”
There are times we play down a compliment to take away the personal nature & deflect the attention elsewhere:
“You like my shoes? They were only £10 on sale”
“You think my dress is cute? Have you seen? It has pockets!”
There are even times we turn a compliment into an argumentative, backhanded insult that can unnecessarily change a neutral mood to a low mood, completely unintended by the kind soul who spoke such lovely words:
“I look happy today? So you’re saying I usually walk around with a face like a slapped arse?”
“You’re envious of my freedom? Just because I went out doesn’t mean I don’t care about my responsibilities”
But, in the worst case, being modest is an unadulterated lie to both ourselves & those around us.
We may think that a sprinkling of modesty is like the infrequent use of a little white lie, that it can be used like a real life Get Out Of Jail Free card to avoid a potentially awkward moment or diffusing a situation.
And I appreciate that; diverting the attention from our figure to the handy pockets sewn into the dress adorning it can politely avoid a lecture about body confidence, or ill thoughts about our own body that such an instance could evoke.
However, we tend not to know where that fine line is between a face-saving use of modesty to protect ourselves, & a bare faced lie that may endanger us.
As I write this, I am three weeks discharged from a mental health ward after being admitted to hospital by the crisis team due to suicidal thoughts.
It goes without saying that I’m not alright & neither were any of the other women suffering on the unit.
So why, when we passed time of day with each other in the communal areas & asked if we were alright, we say we are?
The conversation several times a day between several women with varying degrees of mental illness – bad enough to be admitted for special care – would go like this:
Woman One: “Hiya, how are you?”
Woman Two: “I’m alright thanks, you?”
Woman One: “Yeah, not bad ta”
How many times have we told people we’re alright?
And, more to the point, what struggles have we kept silent for the sake of being modest?
By masking our problems with modesty, we could’ve been given the wrong support on that mental health ward or not receive treatment at all.
I’ve been guilty of doing it myself for 32 years & it wasn’t until these hospital conversations that I even realised how damaging the innocent touch of modesty could be for our wellbeing.
From this moment on, for the sake of both our mental health & our self esteem, I urge all of us to stop being so modest!
When someone asks how we are, we tell them the truth – if they’re kind enough to ask, we shouldn’t be so rude as to lie to them in response.
When someone praises us, we thank them – we deserve recognition & we should celebrate our wins.
When someone compliments us, we take it positively – they’re saying it for a reason, & that reason is that we’re beautiful.
Revel in the brief ego boost when we’re told we look good & accept the offer of a shoulder to cry on without lying to anyone.
Modesty isn’t worth risking our wellbeing for.
Mrs Walmsley | The Unseasoned Wag x