When looking at English dictionaries for the definition of ‘pride’ this is what I’ve found:
"A sense of one's own proper dignity or value; self-respect. Pleasure or satisfaction taken in an achievement, possession, or association. Arrogant or disdainful conduct or treatment; haughtiness. A high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc. Pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself."
However, when looking at the definition given by the Real Academia de la Lengua Española (RAE) the result is:
"Arrogance, vanity, excess of self-steem that sometimes is disguised due to its origins within noble and virtuous causes."
As a consequence, and according to this, I understand that someone proud is someone arrogant & vain.
But what about that other meaning of pride that the English dictionaries gather but the Spanish one ignores? What about that pride that means personal satisfaction and that can be felt after an achievement reached by oneself or by someone close to us? Don’t you feel that kind of pride often?
Obviously RAE’s dictionary, grammars, reference books get way too short when referring to life because real life is huge and it is happening out there, right now, while the academicians dissect it to put it in printing.
I never used to congratulate myself after achieving something. I felt like I didn’t deserve the praise because it was not such an issue, just another step of the way. I thought that attitude was mainly mine and that people around used to rejoice at their achievements. However, since I am paying attention to it, I realise that many of us don’t take much credit for what we get.
I wonder why we act like this and I’ve came up with some possible answers:
- Because straight away we move into the next goal to be reached, focusing on it. At the end of the day life is aresistance long term journey.
- Because many of us have learnt that the goals we achieve are simply our duty and as such, there is no point in rejoicing.
- Because modesty (or fake modesty) is a valuable & useful virtue, so being modest & humble it is indeed a truly good quality.
- Because we find very hard to be kind & loving with ourselves, we struggle to deligh our own ears with self-praise, to present ourselves with medals & awards.
Swimming without a rubber-ring, riding a bicycle, sleeping on my own in the dark, diving, parking without stopping the traffic, passing ‘History of Spanish Language’ at university, looking for my own way abroad, finding a job/s, giving up a job/s, starting a relationship, ending a relationship, speaking another language, changing careers, writing & sharing what I write… There are many feats that I considered extremely difficult once and that I finally managed to accomplish.
So quite often I feel that kind of pride that the RAE ignores. My feats fill me up with pride if I put enough attention to them and that emotion grows even bigger when I focus on the achievements reached by the people I love. It is a beautiful feeling of fulfilment. It is like sensing myself brimming over with happiness. I can feel it coming up strong from my chest just like a warm wave moving forward with the current through my throat, breaking there at my mouth’s shore with a smile that sometimes comes together with some salty tears of joy.
Many of the things I’ve achieved make me feel proud of myself but I am especially proud of my loving ones. Proud of:
- the fortitude, strength, positive gaze and desire to enjoy life of Luis, my Dad.
- The persistence, ability to fight & to take in new learnings of Gloria, my Mum.
- The huge intelligence & generosity of Luis, my only brother and my mate on the path since he was born. I know there is nothing that can bring us apart.
- The optimism, loyalty, the beauty & purity on his look and the total availability of Nicholas, my love, my best friend.
- The comradeship & conspiratorial love between my Auntie & Uncle, Mª Carmen and Antonio.
- The bravery, self-confidence and entrepreneurial push of my cousin Antonio.
- The tenderness, sweet cadence & beautiful softness of my cousin Carmen.
- The striking drive, self-steem & strength of Ana, my youngest cousin.
- The deliberate consistency of Ruth, always so peaceful & respectful. Her, her husband and their wonderful son are a love oasis & a mirror of virtues for me.
- The commitment & dedication of Rocío & Manolo. Both, in a perfect tandem, display effortless an incredible ability to listen and to show genuine interest for others.
- The sense of humour, natural grace & ability to enjoy of Lola & Antonio. I’ve never met a couple in which one is so perfectly made for the other and vice versa. And now they are three! The chances of fun multiply.
- Eva’s natural talent: everything she decides to do she completes it at it best in a very spontaneous manner, making it look easy.
- The underlying creativity of Ana, even when he denies it, and also her hilarious personality when she lets it flow.
- The shrewdness & sharp multidisciplinary wit of Fernando.
- The courage, honesty & clarity of consciousness of Ani.
- The adventurous spirit of Sean, his need of seeking, his ability to leave true friends behind wherever this wandering Canadian goes.
- The integrity & courage of Paolo when facing fear, his endless generosity.
- The determination, self-steem & strength of Sus.
- The elegance, serenity & ability to love unconditionally of Maribel.
- Úrsula’s devotion & dedication to her family and her job.
- Isabel’s clarity of mind, her confidence & determination.
- Adriana’s soft wisdom, her availability to love and to be loved.
- Miguel’s enthusiasm to find other paths and other ways to answer to the same old questions…
I stop here but I could keep on going for a while. That’s how lucky I feel for having by my side people that I love & admire. If I ever have any doubts about my worth I just have to look at them or think of them. Then I feel that if they also have me by their side, if they love me & admire me like I do with them, that must be because I am reflecting something out of their excellence.
We deserve to be proud of our achievements. Now I give myself a medal for each of my accomplishment and will do the same with the ones still to come, leaving modesty to one side and without needing the permission of any official academy.
If you are proud of yourself and proud of your loving ones, shout it out, share it with the world, celebrate it. We are short of euphoria these days and somewhere at every home there is a pile of shinning medals looking for an owner.
(Image by my dear friend Fernando González Viñas.)
"I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
and what I assume you shall assume,
for every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loaf and invite my soul,
I lean and loaf at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
My tongue, every atom of my blood, formed from this soil, this air,
born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
hoping to cease not till death.
Creeds and schools in abeyance,
retiring back awhile sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
nature without check with original energy."
(From 'Song of myself' on Leaves of grass, by Walt Whitman.)