This isn’t a photography post although it arose from a photographer. It actually goes much further back but I was reading a blog post by Syl Arena, a great photographer who wrote a couple of books, one of which I have. I like the book and learned a lot from it. He was writing about updating his bio and this updated bio included the following sentence.
“I’m humbled to say I have written two bestselling books on lighting…”
This caught my eye since I think the use of humble has changed recently. I have heard people accepting awards talking about being humbled. Here, Syl is talking about being humbled to have sold lots of books. I really think people don’t understand humble anymore.
If you think you are something special and then learn that you aren’t, that could be a humbling experience. If you meet someone who is demonstrably more capable than you are, that can be a humbling experience. If you find yourself stranded in the middle of a vast ocean with no way home, that can be a humbling experience. Being told you are great or seeing proof that you are is not humbling!
Why is it used then? I don’t know. I have a thought as to what it might be but I can’t get inside the heads of others and say why they use it and I am certainly not trying to put Syl down in this case – he is just an example of something happening a lot. Maybe it is a fashion that is being followed. However, I suspect it is a way of pointing out that you are not big headed about your success while acknowledging you have been successful. Being grateful would seem a more appropriate term but I don’t control others and I probably won’t find myself in a situation that needs me to worry about addressing such success. If I do, I wonder whether I will really be feeling humble?