“Ego” is arguably one of the distinctive traits that classify humans as beings of higher intellect. It has a bad reputation of being the downfall of so many great leaders. Although that is true, it also serves another important purpose in our life.
Our ego gives us assurance and the feeling of self-worth. If you’ve read some of my other articles, I’m making statements that are very unlike me. Yes, these are very vague claims that are unsupported by any research. However, I’m certain that some of you reading will be able to relate.
I’m definitely one of those people; those who are proud of themselves, a little too much. Being born with generally high self-esteem and above average ability to learn can really boost anyone’s ego up. I’m aware of my abilities and always try to downplay myself. I guess that’s my way of staying humble.
That, however, isn’t enough.
My ego takes over in the most subtle and cunning way. It’s able to disguise itself as confidence. When I start noticing people thinking I’m egotistic, I’d tell them how egotistic I am and act caringly to other people without boasting so much. Even if I do, it’d be jokingly. It’s a self-defense mechanism to correct my image by playing with people’s psychology and perception. It sure tricked them, but it tricked me as well. I lost count how many times I lost to my ego.
I’d rush into plans that I’ve built under best-case scenarios and never look back on what may not happen. Even when I think of worst-case scenarios, I’d be able to think of every conceivable countermeasure, or so I thought. When you’re so full of yourself, you fail to be scared of the unknown. Being fearless is one thing, but being careless is another.
To me, ego is another being altogether that lives in my body along with my consciousness. It’s so convincing and trustworthy; it makes me feel at ease when my ego takes over. Everyone loves a confident leader, myself included. Every failure a lesson, and every downfall a chance to propel yourself further. That’s something my consciousness is not able to do.
It was not until 16 years old when I finally realised how bad my ego is. At that point, I saw myself as invincible. Everyone is an idiot and full of flaws, and I’m the only “woke” one. Screwing up what might possibly be the biggest exam of my life thus far and getting rejected by all my university applications was what it took to make me realise how bad my ego is. Pathetic, really.
I unknowingly put myself on a pedestal and crowned myself. If that’s not my prideful ego, I don’t know what is.
Ever since that mistake, I’ve done a lot of reflections and self-introspection. I made sure that my ego is in check; allowed myself to feel vulnerable and unsure about things in life. My two-cents to all of you reading is that:
Ego disguises itself as optimism.
Anxiety hides itself behind pessimism.
Destructive and unpredictable they may be, both are required to create a balanced and well-thought action.