Phillip Gan, Staff Writer

Modesty has been an extremely favored character trait in society for the longest time, especially in Asian culture. Being humble is always associated with good manners and politeness, which will earn you many friends in life. However, gradually, modesty has become a very controversial trait in society: it is beneficial in relationships but also a hindrance in practicality. Because of how most Asian households bring up their children, dealing with the conflicts of humility is a great and rising struggle.

Pros of modesty:

As a social skill, modesty is valued. Showing off makes others around you uncomfortable and has been tied with narcissism. You are seen as self-centered and cold-hearted, turning away many because nobody likes being friends with an arrogant snob. As a result, humility is tied to politeness, which in turn makes you seem like a more caring person who acknowledges the positive traits in other people. People are more attracted to you, and you will have a much easier time finding and making friends compared to a person with a selfish personality. In a way, most people feel better complimenting others than themselves because we associate complimenting ourselves with hurting others.

Cons of modesty:

Because of how American ideals are different from Asian ones, modesty is looked down on in an environment solely dependent on success. Whenever you run for an office position, you have to show why you are the best candidate. College applications force students to brag about themselves and even encourage “emphasizing” achievements on their resumes. The well known questions “why should we choose you,” “what do you have to offer,” “please list your achievements,” and “what are some positive traits you possess” are all usually the hardest questions to fill out on an application and take the most time to think of a “truthful” response.

Children (especially in an Asian household) are brought up to avoid conflict and be polite. Even though Asian children are generally taught to be competitive, when it comes to this situation, they are stopped in their tracks. How can you, essentially, boast about yourself while maintaining humility? There is no easy way out. As a result, students uncomfortably fill out the form, each question making them cringe more and more. This mindset makes people hard to be confident about themselves because overconfidence leads to arrogance.

In this generation, modesty can both give and take away. Even though people enjoy those who don’t let the world know about how good they are, those who are too humble sabotage their chances at success and also lower their self-esteem.


Graphic courtesy of LIFEHACKER.COM