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Thursday, July 25, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Why insecurity is just as stupid as arrogance

“I remembered a moment being crashed to the grass in a perfect cover tackle as I walked towards a girl at a party. My fine assailant said: ‘She’s not your happiness. Go to the bar. Now’. Wise words.” Image: wikiHow

“Love is lifting your friends. Tackling them before they do Stupid, inviting them to do what’s right and reminding them that they are good enough.” ANTONIO DI DIO continues his series of Short History of Kindness columns.  

Driving tonight on my way to a thing at Sydney Uni, I remembered a moment in ‘85 being crashed to the grass in a perfect cover tackle on number two oval as I walked towards a girl at a party. 

Dr Antonio Di Dio.

My fine assailant said: “She’s not your happiness. Go to the bar. Now”. Wise words. 

Back to the present, in the car, and the phone rang. It was a doctor in distress and we had a good chat and agreed to catch up later. It rang again, another unwell doc from interstate, and I connected them with their local state service. 

I have many odd hobbies, from collecting comics and Aussie crime fiction to growing beautiful kids and teasing Meikle on radio, but my constant for 28 years is looking after unwell doctors. 

They are lovely people who face strange challenges and in recent weeks I’ve been the 24/7 national hotline as well. It was starting to make me feel useful in some way. 

I hopped out of the car and entered the memorial service celebrating a special guy called Paul, whose ridiculous energy and humour made him beloved in our year, while we secretly envied his drive and phenomenal ability to stay up all night watching sport then slay an exam. 

His passion for breakdancing, drinking, karaoke and loudness prepared him imperfectly for a lifetime of being a Serious and Brilliant ophthalmologist, deeply respected. There were about 20 of us from uni, many I had not seen for 35 years since graduation, having never once attended a reunion.

Why? How come everyone was a super duper sub-specialist? How come everybody was so slim and elegant and fancy? How come I’ve never fit in and why on earth did I come here tonight and think I belonged?

Well. They were warm and just as shy, and said hi. They were all kind and funny and lovely. They had all met some of life’s crappy travails from illness to tricky kids and lost cars to lost spouses, and been tangled in life’s journey, like we were are attached to gigantic balls of wool tugged on by an invisible insanely evil cat. 

They all loved Paul. What stupid insecurity had kept me from returning to meet these lovely people every year? Well, insecurity can bugger off – next time we have a reunion, I’m in! I don’t have to be hostage to stupid feelings we all have. My only responsibility is to enjoy this one life we’ve been given and as far as I can tell that comes from being kind and from turning up, preferably both.

It was weird taking a call from a distressed doc during Paul’s memorial, knowing what had taken him. It would have been so easy to say: “You bugger, why didn’t YOU call me when you felt this way?” to the beautiful soul we were saying goodbye to, but. But. Well. If only life was that simple, solutions were so simple.

I wandered downstairs afterwards and running to the front door was one of my sons, currently diligently doing anything to avoid study. I held him a long time and said, what’s occurring? He said he’d just pulled a study all-nighter. Although mostly it was watching Man City with his mates for hours, and maybe hours training at the pub first. 

Actually no study at all, but his mate had tackled him on the oval for some a very good reason although he couldn’t exactly remember it. Same pubs and corridor I’d spent time with Paul 40 years earlier. Same all-nighter of non-study I used to do. 

I said: “Are you going to try out for that thing we talked about?” and he said: ”Nah, not sure I deserve it”. Sounded familiar. Who knows, maybe in 40 years he will learn that insecurity is just as stupid and destructive as arrogance, and that if we really want to help each other, the right answer is: “Have a go! You’re good enough! Try everything!” 

Love is lifting your friends. Tackling them before they do Stupid, inviting them to do what’s right and reminding them that they are good enough.

None of us could save Paul, but we could gather and thank the stars for the joy of knowing him. Hug the people you love, often, and the next time they wonder if they should apply for something, or run for something, just say yes. Because they are good enough, and need to know it. Paul would approve.

Antonio Di Dio is a local GP, medical leader and nerd. There are more of his Kindness columns on

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Antonio Di Dio

Antonio Di Dio

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One Response to Why insecurity is just as stupid as arrogance

cbrapsycho says: 11 July 2024 at 7:11 am

What a delightful article. Thanks Antonio. Your articles are often uplifting and wise. That’s the good thing about getting older, we have the opportunity to reflect on the past and get wiser.

I’ve gone to all the school reunions out of curiosity whilst also being insecure in going, only to find people welcoming, kind and interesting. Not sure why I’ve not attended uni reunions, but never had the desire to go, nor the same level of curiosity.


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