Cocky: A Balancing Act

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irst off, the title should not be associated with the previous topic. Instead it deals with an earlier post that responded to Ydurp’s comment, one in which I mentioned that I was self-effacing and/or self-deprecating. (And it’s self-deprecating, not self-defecating; who said that?) But RachelsMommy–that lightening rod of a commenter–had a different opinion…

Visit RachelsMommy's Xanga Site!I guess, I never saw that before: your sef deprecation. I always thought you had a sort of cockiness, or perhaps false bravado. Just shows to go ya; It’s hard to read a person through the written word.

No bout adoubt it, sister. Certainly, I have problems through IMs. This is what probably brought about the birth of *shudder* emoticons. Being able to convey your attitude strictly through words is what separates the good writers from the so-so ones. Since Ydurp read me one way and RachelsMommy read me another way, I guess that makes me a so-so writer–yes, ydurp, I’m being self-effacing again.

But in my own defense, I would like to say that I’m actually a little of both, or maybe a lot of both. I am self-effacing as I wrote in the previous post, but I do have a lot of bravado in me–although I take umbrage at the idea that it might be construed as false. The bravado or cockiness is based on two things: I am the eldest son, and as such, I was raised believing I was usually right. At this age, of course, I realize intellectually that I am wrong as often as I am right, but the attitude doesn’t disappear, at least not for me.

The other factor is my profession. I stand in front of a class and I have to be right. Again, I may not be right all the time, but I have to convey my conviction of what I know. But if I am wrong, or if I don’t know the answer, I will usually admit it with the same attitude. In my opinion, the instructor who pretends to know things when he doesn’t–and this is false bravado–ultimately looks weaker and loses the respect of the student.

Lastly, in a weird, twisted kind of way, being self-effacing can convey a sense of cockiness. You’d have to be pretty cocky to admit to being wrong, or ugly or careless to a group of students–of course, this also depends on the circumstances. I never lie about ignorance or other things I have no control over. But I will never fess up to failing to do things that I do have control over, because that simply identifies you as lazy, careless and uncaring. That is something I would never want to convey to my students.

So, in the end, I think I am both self-effacing and cocky. It is a balancing act that I have tried to perfect with varying degrees of success. Being self-deprecating all the time gets boring very quickly. Who wants to be with a person who is always whining about his insufficiencies. Conversely, being cocky all the time conveys arrogance, and no one wats to hang with a braggart. The right combination of both will represent me as confident with the right amount of modesty. At least, that’s my formula.

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