Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The assertive,the modest and the egoist

I discovered my ego, rather suddenly. Though I don’t know still, for sure, whether “ego” is good or bad. Before I made it to IITM, I never bothered about accusations various people made and corrections they suggested. Whenever someone would tell me that I made a mistake, I, in all my childishness, [traces of which are still present] would accept it. I would start thinking that it was, indeed a mistake and would try to imitate what people, whom I saw as role models did.

I would try to mould myself, batter down my feelings trying to emulate SOPs. [SOP: Standard operating procedure] To put it more clearly, SOPs are those traditions or practices followed and passed on generation to generation. I don’t question their wisdom. My only problem is being forced to follow it, even when it hurts me. To be true, I was well aware of this problem since my school days, but I never dared to complain. Whenever somebody punished me in school for some mistake, I would simply follow what I was told to do. But I still remember quite a few events, where I was not able to compromise and incurred the wrath of quite a few elders. It would take my father to explain me clearly what I was supposed to do, and me to half-heartedly mutter some apologies.

Let me tell you one thing before proceeding further. I am not an egomaniac. I have no problem with people trying to correct me and I will, most willingly accept suggestions. But there are a few fields or areas, where I pride myself (I may be wrong!) in being meticulous. I don’t have a ready list of these fields but technology and academics are certainly not among them. In fact I can get you testimonials from my friends telling how open I am with regard to academic suggestions. You come and tell me two twos are six and not four and I will start believing you.

After I entered the Insti, my most cherished place I started to understand how important it is to believe in oneself. I am in fact indebted to my Insti, my Profs and my friends for the self-confidence I acquired. I started to see things in a new light and I will remember the day I confronted one of my Profs in the class about an issue. I felt that my action was right and that my opinion mattered. So stood up and spoke while the rest of my classmates stared at me in surprise, for what seemed to most of them as an attack on the Prof itself. Of course, one thing why I like my Insti most is that people are able to differentiate an ideological difference from a personal confrontation. Later, not only did the Prof discuss the matter in detail but also became a good friend of mine. We stop and speak to each other whenever we meet.

The whole point of writing this blog is to tell you not about the past, but about the present. My worry is that these self-assertions are becoming more frequent. In the three years of my being in the Insti, I think it was only twice that my ego showed up and made me felt pricked. But it took hardly a month in this present place [I think you already know where I am. I refrain from mentioning because I feel that it is not good to brand a whole place for the actions of a few people] to trigger my ego, not once but twice.

The first was when one of the people I met here tried teaching me discipline. I met him one day as a part of my work and it didn’t take more that three minutes before he shouted, “ You should learn discipline first”. I didn’t reply, for, a brawl with an elderly man was the last thing I wanted. I withdrew but it pinched me so hard that I spent almost a half a day, figuring out what to do. I finally decided to mail him and wrote a long letter explaining him the consequences of trying to teach discipline to strangers. I made it cleat that I didn’t need any lessons from him and also made him understand what would have happened had I shot back at him. I met him again and asked him whether he read my mail. He grinned uncomfortably and replied “ no problem”. I understood that he lacked a reply and that was a satisfying moment.

The next one came yesterday, after a mid term presentation. One of the employees expressed dissatisfaction and asked me if I was satisfied with my work. Of course I realised that my presentation was short and terse, but couldn’t see any reason for the question. I don’t claim to be the most sincere at work, but I did my work with a considerable degree of involvement. It naturally irritated me and I replied, “ I am absolutely satisfied and I am sorry for you”. It took me whole of the evening to drain away the frustration and I flared up today morning when on my friends tried digging the matter up.

Now, here I am trying serious measures to bring down these flare-ups and be my old modest self again. By the way, suggestions are welcome.


Shankar said...

a little ego doesn't hurt anyone .... as long as you make things clear (like you mailing him) and that "little ego" is what is called self respect.....keep writing

Sri said...

My modest sugesstion:
ego is not a bad thing to have..its ur identity..but like many things in life, there is a trade off as to how much one should have it..and life teaches it

dilip said...

Ego is single most determining factor of a mans succes or failure.Big ego always precedes big achievement.Dont let those old dumb asses stick finger up your face and tell you who you are what u can do.Those old disgruntled masses in a process to convince themselves of leading long unproductive lives try to undermine your work and put you down.