I’ve been wondering lately if the definition of humble/humbled has changed without me knowing it so I consulted dictionary.com. Nope. The definition has not changed as you can see for yourself.

The usage of the word by orthodontists has changed dramatically over the last couple years however and this is concerning. I will readily admit that I am not humble – I have strong opinions that are founded in hard experience which I share regularly. I share my successes and my failures proudly as I know that both can and will benefit others and that recounting them allows for introspection. I stand on my track record for helping others succeed and there is nothing I enjoy more than facilitating success. Perhaps this makes me a bit proud and I’m ok with that. What it DOES NOT make me is a hypocrite… and hypocrisy is the central focus of this piece.

Words have meaning and the meaning is easily determined from any number of sources. Yes there are connotations and denotations but words still have a definite range of meanings even with these variations. Using words that sound good or play well on social media in an attempt to make ourselves feel good or to try and portray ourselves as something we are not is self-delusion at best and blatant hypocrisy at worst. This kind of thing is rampant in orthodontics and not just with the word humble. It matters because self-delusion and feel good hypocrisy are slippery slopes that can have major, long-term consequences for groups and individuals.

We are better than this. There is nothing wrong with being proud of your achievements. If you become ABO certified, graduate residency, receive an award from your peers or whatever be proud of your achievements! You earned it and when you post the fact on Facebook we, your peers, will be proud for you as well. There is not a thing in the world wrong with sharing something you worked hard for and are proud of, but to say “I’m so humbled…” while posting your latest accomplishment in hopes that 5000 of your closest friends will see it is anything but!

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