Show Off. Young Man Pointing to himself.

Show Off

Sometimes glass glitters more than diamonds because it has more to prove.
~Terry Pratchett

Do you feel the need to make sure people are aware of your successes and triumphs?

I mean, what good is success if no one knows about it, right? Seems simple enough, but being a braggart or a show-off is never very attractive in a person. It really depends on the way we reveal what we’ve accomplished.

From a very young age, people have an innate urge to show off. From doing something to impress our parents (“Dad, look at me!”), to trying to impress a coach or a teacher, to trying to win over that first crush, exhibiting ourselves to impress others is very much part of the human condition.

In our professional lives, it is vital that our boss and our co-workers are aware of our accomplishments. It’s how we garner trust—it’s how we’re able to progress. But how do we build that awareness without coming across as a show-off? In many cases, there are formal channels for making that happen. Our performance reviews, progress reports, marketing materials—all of these are meant to spread the word about our qualities and those of our employers. But if everyone else is doing the same thing, how do we ensure that we’re noticed amid the din? And do we really need to?

People also have the need to be noticed in their personal lives. As we interact with people, we have to stand out as someone who is worthy of affection—both romantically and in friendships. Even the most humble people will show their best or most interesting side when they feel it will facilitate a friendship or a romantic interest.

This manifests itself in our behavior but also in what we wear, the car we drive, the way we decorate our house, and our presence on social media. If you ever doubt that the average person feels the need to show off, take a quick look through your Facebook feed. One of the main function that Facebook serves is exhibiting what interesting, fun, and exciting people we all are.

In my view, there’s nothing wrong with that. Birds of paradise show their plumage and do their dances. Humans post their vacation pictures on Facebook.

But when does bragging or showing off cross a line? When does someone go from being an interesting person to a blowhard who always has to be better than everyone else? Where is the line between showing our best side and being a braggart?

To me, it’s a question of frequency and opportunity. When we talk about ourselves, does it fall naturally into the conversation, or are we forcing it? Are we constantly diverting the conversation so that it moves toward us? Are we constantly thinking about ourselves, or are we honestly interested in where the conversation is going?

Those of us of a certain age remember Al Franken’s “Me Decade.” Well, we all have our “me moments,” and how often those moments occur and how they come about makes the difference between someone who is interesting and someone who is desperately trying to come off as interesting.

How secure we are in ourselves plays a big part in our need to brag or show off. If we are secure in our lives, in our successes, and in what we do with our lives, we will have less of a need to make sure the world knows about it. We will allow our lives to speak for themselves and not feel like we have to embellish or expound on them.

There’s nothing wrong with showing our best side, but sometimes it can be better to let other people decide which side they like best.

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