If you grew up in the South, your momma probably told you more than once you were getting “too big for your britches.” That was not a term of affection. It essentially meant you were acting like you were better than everyone else. An elitist. Superior. Again…not complimentary.
Every once in a while, we may need Momma to remind us of that again. But perhaps you’re like me, and Momma is no longer able to share that valuable lesson with you. That’s when your friends – or maybe even strangers – come in.
Your family and best friends are usually the first ones to tell you to “bring it down a notch” or stop being “cocky.” Maybe they just give you friendly reminders that no matter how successful, wealthy or popular you become, you’ll always be “one of them.” A few weeks ago, I had a “reality check” from a complete stranger. It not only made me chuckle, but it really did keep me from feeling “too big for my britches.”
While shopping in a drug store in my hometown, I noticed a customer staring at me – profusely – as I walked by her. I tried acknowledging her (saying hello), ignoring her (going in a different direction), and eventually became somewhat irritated by her unwavering stare-down.
Now let me interject here – ever since I first went on the air for our local ABC affiliate several years ago, I’ve grown accustomed to people recognizing me in public, saying hello, or even acting as though we are friends when we’ve never met in person. I don’t mind that. Really I don’t. It’s quite flattering actually (if I may say that without seeming “too big for my britches.”)
But this situation was different. This female customer not only stared at me, she followed me. Up and down one aisle after another after another. And finally, when I couldn’t take it any longer, I stopped in my tracks and asked her – politely – if I could help her with something. (Now I know I have a lot of different jobs, but I assure you that stocking shelves at the local CVS isn’t one of them!)
Apparently, the sound of my voice was exactly what this woman needed to finally “put two and two together” as we say in the South. She finally recognized me! And I know this because of the look on her face and her immediate response of “I KNOW YOU!!!”
My reply was kind and humble. “You do?”
Her reply was brutal. “You used to be famous!”
The chuckles from other customers (and the real CVS employees) who were nearby couldn’t be stifled. And my ego couldn’t have been any more deflated.
We went on to have a nice (but brief) conversation, and eventually we each went on our way. But the more I thought about her comment, I’ve been reminded that fame (just like beauty, money and even success), can be fleeting.
And we mustn’t EVER get “too big for our britches” that we forget that lesson or take any of those gifts for granted.