I have been puzzling over the word “pride”. It came up in conversation after the inaugural lecture. “You must be so proud!”, people kept saying (not to me particularly) and it caused some consternation. Some people were not proud but they were very pleased that H had been so successful and found something she was passionate about.

There is something in my upbringing that says one shouldn’t be proud. “Pride comes before a fall”, so if one feels pride, something bad is going to happen soon. However I remember after my Dad’s funeral, one of his co-workers telling me that my Dad had been very proud of the fact that I went to university and had done so well. I was immensely pleased to hear it, but also sad that my father hadn’t said so himself. So there is something contradictory here. On the one hand I am reluctant to say I am proud of something or someone, but on the other, I crave for my parents (and others perhaps) to tell me they are proud of me. Time to do some research.

So I type “pride” into Google search thinking it will give me a definition. The first thing listed is “Pride” the film about a group of gay activists supporting the miners in 1984 during a long running strike. I remember this period of unrest with the government but don’t think I had much understanding in those days. I hadn’t thought about the LGBT connection to the word, why are “Pride” marches named as such? Further down the list is a website about the Pride march in Edinburgh, which took place last week. I think I would like to join in next year, so much isolationism going on at the moment. Further scrolling is not providing any more insight.

So I type “dictionary pride” this time and follow a link to dictionary.com. There are twelve definitions for the noun, no wonder I was confused. These stand out:

  • a high opinion of one’s own importance
  • a dignified sense of what is due to oneself, self-esteem, self-respect
  • pleasure taken in something done by oneself, or believed to reflect credit on oneself.

Looking at these, it seems to me that pride is generally something we have for ourselves though it can be seen as negative as in having too high an opinion of oneself, positive in a self-esteem, self-respect way, or just celebratory as in pleasure of a job well done. Taking pride in someone else is having a believe that their success reflects credit on oneself.

I was taught not to celebrate my successes, that was “showing off” and wrong so I tend to skip over good things and think about the non-successes. This isn’t good for self-esteem I have worked out and nowadays I do try and celebrate but it isn’t easy, there is still a part of me saying it is showing off. Looking at the definitions I think the confusion comes from the difference in taking pride in doing something well over being proud of myself and having an elevated opinion of myself.

At the core of the confusion though is judgement. It is only when people compare themselves to others that pride seems to take on a sinister quality. I can take pride on my child learning to clamber over a climbing frame because I have supported her and made suggestions on how to go about it. I am proud with myself for enabling her the start to enjoying climbing frames. I am proud of her because this is something she has learnt though her own persistence and effort. But I am not proud of her because now I have a child who can climb, that just doesn’t make sense to me. Her achievements are her own and I will help her celebrate them.

So I think I will take pride in things, but not in comparing. As for pride marching, if I can help people celebrate their self-esteem, and self-respect just by going for a walk, then lead on.