I love my country. Love it. I love the people. I am extremely proud of where I’m from and genuinely think it’s the greatest country in the word. This post is about one of the few things I don’t like, that we need to change. It is, to me, the worst quality that we have: Begrudgery.
To say Ireland is a nation of begrudgers is a huge exaggeration. I know many people that don’t suffer from this terrible affliction. Those that do have my deepest sympathy. Why I say it is the biggest affliction of my country is because I have come across enough people that do suffer from it. These people revel is being an armchair critic or internet troll. If they know you personally, they will engage in more subtle tactics usually and will snipe at you however they can.
I myself experienced it a lot over the years. For a long time I got a better reception internationally than I did in Ireland. When I stood on stage trying to help people change their attitude I was told to ‘stop trying to be American’. I was dismissed by many while when I went abroad I garnered respect. I won’t pretend it didn’t hurt my sensitive soul a bit. I looked to my Irish brothers and sisters as being especially important in their validation. As time went on, my confidence became strong regardless as I got better results.
Of course, it’s not only an Irish quality. I’ve heard of similar concepts rampant in Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the UK. But, being Irish, we are extra cynical… which makes us extra funny. Unfortunately, it also makes us quicker to condemn than to commend.
Public figures are the main targets. U2 are a regular victim of such comments. You would be forgiven for believing that Irish people all hate Bono and the band. Yet Croke Park will always sell out 80,000 tickets for two nights in a row. Because they don’t really hate him or the band. It’s an insecurity thing.
Basically, it all comes down to subtext. When a troll goes onto a forum or YouTube video and makes nasty remarks or attacks someone viciously, they do so because underneath everything they are really saying ‘You are successful and I am jealous. I wish I was successful too but I’m not. I ask ‘who do you think you are?’ because I am trying to bring you down to my level as I feel like I am looking up at you.’
Remembering this has really helped me handle the criticism that I face from time to time. It makes me understand that it’s not about me. It’s about them. I can still learn from the feedback but I don’t have to connect with the nastiness. I don’t have to defend myself or attack them back. Because responding validates them and there is no need.
In Ireland, we hail from the land of Joyce and Yeats, Wilde and Beckett. We are known for our history, culture, literary and musical talent. We are known worldwide for our great sense of humour and amazing sense of fun. We are one of the most liked nations in the world and rightly so. When someone from my country has done well my response is always delight for them because I am happy for someone who works hard to be successful and proud if they are from here.
I believe we need to cure this affliction with some conscious directed pride and stand up and say to the rest of the world, this is who we are. This is what we have done. We need to celebrate our own victories and the victories of our Irish brethren. We have so much to be proud of. Being proud is not only much nicer than being cruel, it’s better for our own self-esteem.
Ireland could rule the world if only we let ourselves be happy for our success. It’s well deserved. And the next time you find yourself asking the question ‘Who do you think you are?’ to yourself when you begrudge your own success, respond with a simple phrase ‘A phenomenal Irish legend’.