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There are times when humility, a virtue, can become a hindrance.

First of all, let’s be clear of the definitions. Humility: a modest or low view of one’s own importance. Hindrance: a circumstance that makes progress or success difficult. Make no mistake about it, West Virginians excel in each one.

In fact, we reach such a soaring level that we would, if pollsters were involved, take first place. And that would not be something any of us should place any degree of pride in—ever.

Now, before you throw the first stone, consider the clear truth of what has been placed before you.

The most treasured words I’m gifted by reviewers of my books for young readers are that my stories are “love letters to West Virginia.” I’m certain that no other accolades could hold more worth.

Stay with me.

Historically, we’re all well aware that West Virginia and her people have been exploited—over and over. And after having lived in this majestic state for most of my life, I recall finding it both odd and unpleasant, as well as unfortunate, very early on that West Virginians don’t “toot their own horns” often or loud enough. I still find this truth odd and unpleasant and unfortunate.

Humility is a most necessary part of everyone’s character, but it is certainly compromised when it becomes so deeply engrained that it limits not only ourselves but our dedication to directing that well earned spotlight on our individual and collective achievements.

Shout out the accolades with the pride that is rooted so deeply in our very souls. Shout it to the mountaintops. It will not diminish your humility, for that quality of character is indisputable and indestructible.

So knowing that, shout loud and clear about all that makes West Virginia and her people shine: her rich culture, impressive literary contributions, unique cuisine, her challenging and yet stunning geographical terrain, strong sense of community, deep faith and her world-renowned travel destinations.

Speak it, sing it (Lord knows we have the talent), write about it, without ever diminishing your humility to any degree. Do not let your humility become a hindrance — ever. I can assure you that the accolades we bestow are well-earned. No doubt about it.

Kathleen Jacobs was recently named Runner-up Best Author of West Virginia 2020 by West Virginia Living. She lives in Charleston.