Posted on May 31, 2021
I hope you’ve had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, which marks the unofficial beginning of summer—although the weather has been pretty chilly in some places, but summer is summer and warm weather should be here soon. On the day to remember our lost loved ones, Memorial Day, it seems a fitting time to honor all the people who have lost their lives to Covid.
And on the Covid front, there seems to be good news, the numbers are down in the States and in Europe, mass vaccination finally has Covid on the run, and far fewer lives are being lost in many places (although we still mourn all the current losses in India, as they struggle with Covid). In California children all the way down to the age of 12 are being vaccinated. In France, vaccination opened up to ALL ages today, which will speed things up immeasurably. And California has started an amazing lottery to encourage California residents to get vaccinated: 10 people will win 1.5 million $ each, 30 will win $50,000., two million can win $50 gift cards, and another million people will win free beer and baseball tickets. Whatever works to encourage people to get vaccinated, so we can all be safer from the virus in future, and reach ‘herd immunity’.
Something struck me this week about the way we view ourselves. I have always admired people who are humble, and it seems as though the more talented and exceptional they are, the more humble they are. I’ve never much liked people who are puffed up, full of themselves, and brag about their talents and abilities, and I’ve admired greatly those who are more modest. One of the most humble men I have ever known was Alex Haley, who was a dear friend, and my mentor at the beginning of my career (the author of “Roots”). No one was warmer, kinder, more compassionate, and more humble than he. It was one of his many traits I admired greatly.
I was speaking this week to a man whom I love and admire, exceptionally talented, brilliantly smart, a wonderful human being, and he is so modest that he has no idea how extraordinary and unusual he is. He sees himself as an ordinary person, with nothing special to recommend him, he sees his flaws and mistakes as no one else does—-while other people with little to recommend them can’t wait to tell you how fabulous they are (and usually aren’t).
There is a fine line between modesty and humility, and being blind to our own virtues. I dont usually see myself as a special person. I see my flaws, my weaknesses and my failures and all the areas where I could be better, my mistakes glare at me like headlights, blinding me to all else. Long ago, I was friends with the head of my publishing house, quite an impressive very capable man much respected in the field. And he said to me, “Every day I sit in my office, at my enormous desk, and I wait for someone to walk through the door and say ‘Donny, what are you doing in this office, in that chair—-go back to where you belong immediately’. I think we all feel that way at times. In publishing circles, I am often treated as a star, people see and are sometimes impressed by my fame—–and in my own mind’s eye, I am somewhere between 15 and 35, on a ‘grown up’ day, and I see all the ineptitude, the things I can’t and dont know how to do, the awkwardness, my shyness, and I feel almost like a fraud when they treat me as a star, and I wonder when they will discover that I’m just as unsure of myself as I was at fifteen. A wise woman once said to me “Dont compare your insides to other people’s outsides”. Other people always appear to be more competent and talented than we feel.
It’s a good trait not to be showing off and bragging, but maybe for the more modest among us, we need to take stock occasionally, and realize and notice the things that we do well, and where we shine—instead of focusing on our flaws and beating ourselves up for what we’re not or what we dont know, or can’t do well (yet).
When I do interviews on TV, it always feels surreal. I try not to think of millions of viewers watching, or I’d faint on the spot. People do my hair and make-up, I’m lucky enough to be interviewed by Robin Roberts, who is a fantastic, wonderful person, on Good Morning America. And for five minutes, I feel like a star. And then I go home, or back to a hotel where I’m staying, take off my clothes for TV, put on jeans and a sweater, call my kids, play with my dogs—-the make-up and hair look good for the rest of the day, but underneath all that I’m still me, the same person I was at 15, and 25 and 30, with the same talents, and the same ineptitudes, just as shy, and often unsure of myself, wishing I could be more, or better, or more capable in many ways. I think most of us feel that way.
I see your talents and beauty, and you see mine—but do we see our own? Do we ever give ourselves a pat on the back for a job well done, or do we see the one mistake we made? I tend to be hard on myself, always striving to do better and be more. And maybe that’s not a bad thing, but now and then we should probably all take stock, and realize where our strengths lie, and how many things we have done well. Fame always seems a little fraudulent to me. Without the make-up (that I could never do myself) and the perfect hair for TV, I’m still the same girl I was at fifteen, and you probably feel that way too.
Take stock of the many things you do really well, and I’m sure there are many!!! Recognize your talents, be proud of yourself. And I’ll bet you have a lot to be proud of, even if you still feel like you’re just a kid and winging it most of the time. Your own personal way of ‘winging it’ may be pretty fabulous and you dont even know it!!! Hurray for you!!! You have a right to be proud of yourself, and not to be too critical and hard on yourself. And make sure you hang out with people who appreciate you, and praise you for who you really are!!! Try to see what they see in you, and you’ll get a whole new view of yourself!!
Have a great week, and I hope wonderful things happen for you!!!