Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Confessions of a Recovering Know-it-All

“When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3

It’s a well-known fact that writers tend to suffer a little bit (well, ok, a lot) from an inflated ego. After all, why else would they choose a profession in which few make a comfortable living, and most have to hold down at least one other job just to make ends meet? Yes, creativity in its own right can be a lot of fun, and writers have an innate curiosity that drive them to learn as much as possible about their subject of interest and an equally compelling need to share what they find. But behind every writer’s pen (or keystroke, as it may be) is a dirty little, oft hidden, character trait: pride. Not just the kind of pride in which we pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. No, this is the kind of pride that wants ALL. EYES. ON. ME. Ask any newspaper reporter or published magazine writer. It’s all about the by-line. And who would ever dream of spending hundreds of hours writing the Great American Novel if it weren't for the possibility of having “best-selling” next to the title of “author”?

I will never forget my 8th grade class peer awards. As I anxiously awaited the results, my little 13-year-old mind was spinning with questions like “Will I be voted most liked? Most fun? Most likely to succeed?” I was new at the school that year and hoped I would be given some type of award that would boost my fragile little teenage ego. Instead, I got a “best” award of the worst type, one that completely horrified me. I got the “best braggart” award. WHAT??!! How did this happen, I asked my friends? I knew what was in my heart and I thought I knew what was coming out of my mouth, although in that moment it became crystal clear that what I meant to say and what people heard were two very different things. Apparently, all of the wonderful things I had shared with my classmates about Singapore and Australia, where I had lived prior to that year, were construed as “bragging.” I was more than just mortified. I was ashamed.

Fast forward to 2014, when I began writing this blog. With more than 20 years under my belt as a writer, I didn’t need my name in lights. I was writing to help others, and I knew there was a need because I had been seeking a blog just like this (to help me when I was first diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis) and couldn’t find one. I thought perhaps “this was my purpose.” I felt good knowing that God could use the combination of my experience in overcoming various life struggles and my writing skills to minister to people who were struggling too. But then something happened. I wrote…and I watched. Being the trained marketer I am, I began watching the numbers. How many people were reading? Was it growing? Declining? Why? Yep, you got it. It became all about me.

Now, before you start saying “I’m not a writer…I’m a reader. How does this relate to me?” just give me a minute. Are you on social media? If you’re reading this, I bet you are! You know what a headline in the January 2015 issue of Health magazine is? It is Could Facebook Make You Crazy? Yes, I kid you not. The article cites research studies that show how our time on Facebook can make us frustrated, upset, lonely and envious. Why? It is the same thing that has subtly (or not so subtly) plagued me all of my life: pride. We all want to be liked, noticed, admired. So we post things we want to be liked, noticed and admired for. In fact, the article in Health defines Facebooking (verb) as “posting only what’s perfect about your life” and discusses “the insecurity that creeps in when only a few people “like” your photo and the jealousy you feel when a friend’s photo gets a flurry of thumbs up.” Ah, the comparison trap. AKA pride.

Ironically, pride isn’t just reflected in what we say that’s good about ourselves. Sometimes it’s about what’s bad. I have seen some online discussions in which people are literally one-upping about how bad off they are. You know the ones, especially those related to medical subjects. One person asks about a particular symptom they’ve had, and it evolves into a firestorm of responses describing just how bad it got for everyone in the community. For some, it’s a way of saying “I am a survivor!” and for others, it’s an invitation to join their pity party. Some have a genuine heart of helpfulness towards the original poster, while others just want someone else to hear what they have endured. In most all of this, it becomes for everyone “all about me” and the original poster, often looking for support, gets lost.

The Bible is clear: the outcome of pride is never positive. It comes before a fall. What is the antidote? A refocusing of our attention onto others. Today’s verse says “be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves,” which perhaps means – for those of us, who by profession or in our personal lives, seek the spotlight – to just stop talking about ourselves. Yes, we have exciting things to share or tragic things we have endured. But I saw a very powerful piece of advice on someone else’s Facebook page today and I can’t help but take it to heart. “When someone is going through a storm, your silent presence is more powerful than a million empty words.” Some of the greatest conversationalists are the most quiet. They know that to be "someone easy to talk to” is to be a good listener. There’s a lesson here.

With every new year comes the opportunity not only to evaluate our actions but also our attitudes. As such, I must confess that I am a recovering know-it-all. I have a long history of having opinions and sharing them, solicited or not, and I sometimes can’t contain my excitement long enough to ask about your news first. But I’m working on it, trying to rid myself of the “P” word by talking less, and listening more … one day at a time. But enough about me. How are YOU?

Confessions of a Recovering Know-it-All originally appeared on Spring Sight blog, by Linda W. Perkins.  Get even more encouragement by following me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.

Subscribe to Spring Sight via e-mail
Subscribe to Spring Sight by Email Your privacy is very important. Your email address will not be shared with any 3rd parties. 


  1. Linda - beautifully written, although I don't remember you as a know-it-all. My kids are loving a song that is currently on the radio, and to paraphrase, "I wish that I could be like the cool kids, 'cause all the cool kids, they seem to fit in..." I think that pretty much sums up most kids at that age, myself included. However, I do remember you being a talker - ha!

    1. LOL, thanks, Steve! Yes, I'm still a talker, but not quite as bad as I used to be. Maybe that's another reason I write - have to let it out somehow! ;-) You are so right on with the whole "fit in" thing. It took me years to stand strong and choose to "live as I believe" rather than falling into peer pressure. You always had that strength of character, something I greatly admired in you. You were both good and cool! I know you will serve as an excellent role model for your kids in that way. :-)

  2. Okay, I finally gave up trying to "Comment as" WordPress and simply selected Name/URL. Duh. :-) As already mentioned, Linda, wonderful post. It definitely resonated with me. I truly enjoy reading your (very inspiring) blog!