I met and talked to thousands of people, most of them were dressed up as obscure anime characters and superheroes. Most were a little odd, a little weird. Most had funny quirks and strange hair.
In such a crowd, it might be easy to judge our generation as total and complete children. It might be easy to feel superior. I know some of my friends put on those airs when I mentioned we were heading to the mecca of childhood and doing a booth. One writer acquaintance remarked, “I grew out of that stuff when I was seven,” putting himself above the entire experience quickly and neatly, without having to really think.
Placing oneself in a superior position can serve a lot of purposes. If we feel we are above an activity, we don’t have to understand it, we don’t have to make efforts. It is easy to sweep it quickly under a rug and walk away, forgetting the greater lessons that can be learned. This is what my writer friend did and I had to admit, his comments made me feel a bit ashamed that I had put so much effort into the con. Was I acting childish? Was I a perpetual adolescent? (Hint: a-yeah, duh!)
I resolved not to listen to the hater and just do the con. If anything, by being a child (aka, at the bottom of the social rung) I would learn a lot.
As it turned out, I ended up not only learning a lot, I met a lot of really cool people, the kinds of people who had a lot to brag about (aka, those at the top of the social rung). Some had pretty big pedigrees. I met one of the top comic book artists in history. I met a producer from a famous children’s movie. I met business owners who rake in millions per year. I met dozens of successful writers. Each one of them shared a trait.
They were all humble.
None put on airs. None seemed concerned with proving how special they were. They were simply real.
You know, like actual people.
The magic of the con was that people who may have strictly-guarded defenses in the grown-up world could let down those barriers and act silly and childish.
And that’s when the magic happened.
We were all children again. We were all kids on the playground. We smiled and laughed and made friends. Most of all, through the magic of nerdiness and costumes, we had brought ourselves to the depths of humility, where kindness and understanding live.
Humility is recognizing other people have needs, and doing what you can to meet them.
Humility is understanding that your needs can and should be met only after other’s needs are taken care of.
Humility is realizing you are part of the throng. You are not special, chosen, endowed or on high. You are part of the hoi polloi.
Humility is being a forever student, no matter how high in the game you are.
Humility is having the courage to give a compliment, say something nice and generally give verbal confirmation to others.
Humility is allowing yourself to be seen exactly as you are, without pretention or masks.
Humility is risking rejection at the hands of the masses who will never understand.
I think many of us want to be at the top of the hierarchy. We want to accumulate degrees, publications, awards. We want to feel like we are a little better, a little higher on the rung as the next guy. Some of us really want to be deified. We want to inspire awe in passersby. We want to be special. We want to be able to shout “Don’t you know who I am?!”
There are some who reach those heights. But what if our goal was to step down from the footstool we have painstakingly whittled for ourselves and become truly, forever humble?
What kind of connections might we make? What kind of lessons might we learn? What pains of comparison might we save ourselves from?
Maybe we should all try to be a little more like that seven-year-old in the superman costume.
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