I used to have a significantly larger ego than I do now. It’s still probably too big, but I can confidently say it’s smaller than it used to be. I was always terrible at humility, but I’ve learned a lot.
Part of that, I’m sure, is parenting. It’s a humbling experience; you rarely in life will get thrown into an environment where you’re expected to do so much with so little knowledge. Every day is a new thing you don’t know and have to figure out the best you can. Some of my lessons have come from other humbling experiences: maybe I was just unnaturally lucky for my first thirty years, but my 30s had more trials than the first three decades combined.
…or maybe it just seems that way to me now?
That’s the real thing that’s given me more humility. Examination. It’s hard to stay cocky if you’re always questioning, exploring, and committing to introspection. It’s hard to have a sense of awe and wonder at the mysteries of the world and a sense of excitement about growth and still think “I’m already perfect.”
But while that stuff makes you less cocky, it seems (at least to me), that it’s given me more confidence. In the same way a scientist gets more sure of the truth of their hypothesis with each experiment that confirms it, I get more strength in my values with each new experience I can examine. I long ago stopped assuming, by default, that I was good at anything. That I knew anything.
Instead, I look for ways to test and explore with purpose and intent. Ways to form and test hypotheses. Whether or not I’m right about the last ten years of my life being harder, I’m much more confident that I’ve learned more in that time.
Maybe those are the same thing.