Debra Swersky
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Journal

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Humbled

The word “humbled” has always confused me. When I look it up in the dictionary (and by “in the dictionary” I mean “on Google”) the definition that’s given speaks to defeat. And that isn’t really the context under which it is typically used. Wiktionary (a very credible source… written in sarcasm font) talks about “I am humbled” as stated in victory speeches as an oxymoron. End result: I rarely use the word, but often feel the sentiment… it’s like Love, I guess. You only know what “humbled” means when you actually feel humbled. 

This past week... I. Felt. Humbled. I couldn’t find another word to express my sentiments…

Without prompting, without requesting, and definitely without much preparation (on my part), Tracy Timm, my partner in crime when it comes to networking with startups on their human capital management plans to help teams maximize their employees, asked me to be a guest on her podcast. (To note, that fancy “human capital management plan” line is Tracy’s doing. She’s clearly more seasoned in selling her world than I am. She has a podcast to prove it!)

Humbled is the feeling that immediately washed over me when I listened to her introducing my interview to her listeners. Never before have I actually heard anyone talk about me in such an unabashedly flattering way so publicly. Go ahead, laugh. I’ve written about awards that I’ve received and the things that people said there, and stood on stage while people referred to me as well-connected and driven, and have received written recommendations of varying styles. But, really… actually heard the words is a different story. (To note, the words that the love of my life shares is a different story. Though he might say that I don’t often hear those always either.)

Last year I wrote about this phenomenon of “actually hearing” the words, processing them, and recognizing that the words were said. I wanted to, but didn’t, call that experience humbling… because I didn’t understand the word. When I looked it up, it didn’t feel right to use, so I didn’t use it. That’s the trick: try using the word in a sentence. If it doesn’t feel right, sound right, taste right on your tongue, then it’s the wrong word. But, back to the point!

I listened to the interview while walking around town and was expecting the worst of myself. I knew Tracy was a rockstar, but I was definitely less confident in my interview-ability. I didn’t send it to anyone when I received it. I was too nervous. I lived my entire life thinking that I sounded like Minnie Mouse when recorded (that’s what someone told me I sounded like in the second grade). I had no idea what to expect, but had set my personal expectations low. 

Listening to the interview was humbling. Tracy and her team did a phenomenal job editing (except for that one part that didn’t get cut) and I didn’t sound like Minnie Mouse. Instead, I sounded much more upbeat than my monotone public speaking voice, and Tracy called me articulate. Though my story can oftentimes feel rambling, Tracy did a great job of keeping me on track, on theme, and on brand. 

As I share this podcast interview with you, I want to also share my utmost gratitude for your support through a pivotal part of my personal life story (the past year and a half). Thank you for insight, input, and inspiration. Writing weekly has been an amazing journey and I am excited to see what the next year and a half has in store for me. So, without further ado: Tracy Timm - Episode #27

Debra Swersky