Summary: Explores the self-centeredness of the insidious, lesser known side of pride that thinks too little or too intently about self and others in relation to self. Article edited from ethoughts weekly installment.

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I attend my first PTO (Parent & Teacher Organization) meeting at my son’s school this evening. It is like going back to high school through the prism of a fun house mirror. I have only first impressions to go by within this new group of associates, but I see all the same odd cliques, only this time they are fifteen years removed. So my imagination starts cranking…..

There‘s the tired, overcommitted, frumpy over-achiever, (now probably a mom of five); the too tan, too fit, tiny, well-manicured, bottle blonde, (now probably has one neurotic child and one miniature dog); the big girl posse (they stick together for comfort and protection,) the shy girls with the big hearts, the cow girl, the well-prepared, crisp secretary; the child of the hippie parents named “Flower” or some such thing; the diplomatic, well-liked, moderately attractive loyalists, the cliquey pretty girls, and the outsiders. All the usual suspects—maybe with the exception of the girl jocks.

I just sit there in the gymnasium with the 50 other moms, and one devoted but regretful newcomer dad, with a docile grin on my face. You can smell the estrogen.

“Here we go again,” I think. Just as I expected, I’m the “new girl”. The one that sits alone and looks at the handouts much too intently. The one who doesn’t know if it’s okay to go back for a second cup of lemonade. The one that doesn’t say much until she gets use to the place then wham!

Surprisingly, all this circles right back to a conversation I had among friends toady about pride. Unlike many suppose, pride is like a coin. It has two sides. There is the side we all know well. It involves thinking too much of self. It’s the puffed up and arrogant, Paul often warns us of. It’s the I’m better looking, classier or smarter than others attribute. And then there is the other tacit but insidious side of the pride coin. It’s the side that thinks too little or too intently about the self; or too much of how others view our self.

Both sides involve centeredness on self, a near-sightedness that does little good. Both coin sides involve a large portion of insecurity and immaturity. And both sides eventually end in some kind of implosion, desperation, or desolation of varying sorts and degrees. By the way, we are all rife with it. We are a piggy bank full of pride coins to be honest.

It is only when we see outside our semi-wretched selves do we grow up and get a grip. It is only then our usefulness can outweigh our diffidence. It is when stop thinking about our unmet needs, our self-absorbed wants, or our personal goals do we experience the times we can be of greatest help to others.

In doing this, we can avoid being miserable in one way or another. So in this sense, we have to check our roles at the door. We have to forget whom we were or whom we wish to appear as. We have to focus on far greater good absent of all our weird baggage.

The heroes of this world think not of self. Think of the everyday heroes or rescue workers we hear of these days. They see what needs to be done, or who needs to be saved and they do it before they analyze their role in the matter. It is in that act of forgetting our self, in a constructive way of course, do we do our most heroic deeds and accomplishments. It is in those moments of literally self-less sacrifice do we reach our highest potential.

So I’ve decided to stay. I’m a PTO mom and I’m going to help out. I may be new but maybe I’ll try my hand at the Book Fair or maybe I’ll bake cookies for the Christmas Party. I’m not sure. I do know one thing; I won’t be sidetracked by this strange “deja vu cast of characters” this time around, well, at least not for too long. It’s different this time. When they need volunteers, they’ll be checking the rolls, and I’ll be checking my roles, and of course any loose change I find flipping around in my pockets.

-Lisa DeLay writer, speaker founder of

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