If I were a betting man, and sometimes I am, I would bet that most of you know someone with one of these. Sometimes it’s big. Sometimes it’s little. Sometimes it rears its head at the worst times. Other times, it is omnipresent and never goes away. This week, dear readers, we are talking about ego.
Yes, ego. That which makes otherwise tolerable people get a swelled head, puffed chest and a loud mouth. Mostly the loud mouth. I’m sure most of you would agree with me that the most identifiable trait of the egomaniac is the big mouth. Surely, each and everyone of you has suffered the wrath of the egomaniac. You probably tried to get a word in edgewise and probably were unsuccessful. I’ve tried it myself. Don’t consider yourself a failure if you could not get a counterpoint in when conversing with the egomaniac. Most of us have tried. Most of us have failed.
I know a guy who is the greatest at everything he does. He truly is a legend in his own mind. Sure, he is good at a few things and he has helped me out more than once. That said, I have had to hear about how good he is at the task at hand and be subjected to anecdotes about how he was greater than anyone else at the same task in the past. He’s the consummate ladies’ man. This makes me chuckle, because he is married. Regardless, he can have any woman he wants at any time he wants. I can count the number of times I have seen a woman throw herself at his feet on…..well, no hands. Confidence is great. Confidence comes with a more than reasonable dose of humility, though.
I, myself, am good at a few things. While I have been told so, I don’t always like hearing it. I have always been part of a team of folks working toward a common goal and it makes me feel uncomfortable to be singled out. I like to share the wealth, so to speak. I have a few hobbies at which I excel. My wife says I should be more proud of those accomplishments and I am. I just don’t feel the need to tell everyone I meet about how skilled I am at something. For me, the skill is the reward. I can do some things that others can’t. I don’t have to remind people that I can do them better than they can or I can do them at all.
This friend of mine likes to brag. If you and he scaled a mountain, he would say he reached the summit better and faster. If he tumbled off the side, he would invariably fall faster than you. I guess when you both hit the ground at the bottom, he would be more dead than you. Everything is a competition. We had a project we were working on and everything was going wrong. Nothing had gone right because both he and I had made a series of mistakes that delayed everything for a seemingly endless period. I was convinced that after I made a mistake, he had to make one bigger just so he could have bragging rights.
There are a lot of you who read this column and think I am the bee’s knees. I appreciate that. I, for one, know that some columns are better than others. You can’t hit a home run at every time at bat. Ask my critics, they seem to think I never hit a home run — ever. It’s okay, because that’s what keeps me grounded and relatively free of ego. I don’t think I am the greatest newspaper columnist of all time. I don’t think I am the worst and some of you might argue that. I’m sure I’ll hear all about that on social media.
There might be a day when this columnist receives awards and accolades and then, and only then, will I look at my critics and say, “Neener, neener, neener.” Until then, I will keep plugging away, relatively humble, until one of you sends a letter, or a phone call or comments on social media about how much you like the column. And then, and only then, for a few minutes, I will feel like the greatest columnist in the world.
Baltimore native Joe Weaver is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he writes on the lighter side of family life.