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The Best Policy


I was sitting in the athletic training room a few weeks ago for physical therapy when a boy on the table next to me looked over and inquired about my injury.  I told him I had an overuse injury in my hamstring; he nodded and mumbled a few consoling words. After about seven seconds of awkward silence I decided to take the bait and ask him what had happened to his leg. He then launched into a long-winded saga about getting speared in the leg while fishing on a remote island with his cousin, who used to be a major-league baseball pitcher. “Cool,” I thought, “You win.”

About eight minutes into his monologue my mind started to wander. Throughout his exciting story of danger and peril, one inescapable question persisted in my mind: What is everyone’s compulsive obsession with bragging?

After spending almost four years at CMU I’ve met every type of superstar, from people who’ve coded entire websites to people who’ve starred in major productions. I’ve met professional dancers, software engineers, All-American athletes, and people who will probably end up on Broadway someday. And one thing I’ve learned about the CMU culture, and about the world in general, is that most people love talking about how much more awesome they are than you.

I am definitely not innocent of this habit. I sometimes find myself talking about my most recent athletic success or a job interview I have coming up. But after spending my entire undergraduate career listening to people talk about themselves as often as possible, I’ve found that modesty is almost always the best policy. While it may seem like college is an endless competition to see who can get the best internships, land the best jobs, and make the most money, sometimes it pays to let your successes speak for themselves. Save the vanity for job interviews and let your peers sit and marvel while you succeed in silence and quietly kick their butts.

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