I’ll be honest here. Anti-braggart isn’t a word, but the problem is that I’m not sure what else to call myself, someone who completely hates bragging and tries his hardest to avoid being associated with that action. A normal human being may call this being modest, but, ironically enough, I feel like such a self-declaration is almost a brag in itself, showing off how amazing my moral fiber is like it’s an expensive cashmere sweater.
But why? Why would I be that way, so afraid of commending myself, saying what’s good about me? The answer is the answer to many questions: fear. It’s a strategy to avoid becoming what I seem to get so annoyed by, a braggart, someone who won’t shut up about how they got into the greatest college in the universe or all of those African children they rescued from a burning tent on the top of Mount Everest. My attempts at avoidance work far too effectively, leading me to hate talking about myself in a positive way.
Naturally, this left me in a phenomenally awkward position as I began the college application process, left to talk about my accomplishments and how great of a fit I was at Potato University or Yam College. Looking back at my essays, I’m incredibly biased in terms of which essays I enjoyed writing and think were my best and realize that they may have been out of place as a way to sell myself as a potential student. My favorite essay was my common app essay, describing how an Art History class changed my perspective on the world and shifted me from being a purely math-science nerd to more open. It was probably one of the best things I’ve ever written in my life and received high praise from those who read it. Yet, it honestly makes little sense as a way to sell myself by talking about a learning experience. Sure, it may show off my writing style and my perspective, but what colleges look for seems to be those who have done something or another to change the world, not someone who is going to be accepting of new ideas and can write semi-decently.
In my writing, I semi-hoped that I would be like a character in a novel: indirectly characterized. I wished that the admissions committee would read my essay, amazed by my complete lack of bragging and pure storytelling in a weird metaphor comparing a class to a girl and admit me for my implied personality and intellect. My modesty kept me from really talking about me, but rather attempting to push the readers in the right direction of what I’ve done, what I think and who I am. The problem is that when you try to sell yourself, you have to be direct. Outside of literary analysis, people aren’t paying attention to the small details and getting a huge amount of it. Instead, they are looking for something obvious and in your face.
So, the moral of the story is that modesty can be a bad thing and the life of an anti-braggart is a hard one. I, along with several other people, need to stop being so damn modest. The world isn’t gonna think you’re a braggart if you’re afraid of being one but they also aren’t gonna know what you’re worth. If you wanna sell yourself and get somewhere, you might as well brag about it.
Shout out to this post by my friend Sahaana for inspiring this one!