"But, either way, if she doesn’t care much about being smarter than others, she can still avoid the kind of sad situation that Jeff finds himself in. This is because we can know things without thinking much about them. You know that Saturn is bigger than Michigan, but you probably never spent much time thinking about it until I just brought it up. The modest person has a similar relationship with knowing that they’re better than others; they know it, but still won’t spend much time thinking about it until someone else brings it up (and, even then, it’ll fade away pretty quickly).
This view of modesty makes it, at bottom, about the deep sense that not everything that happens is about you. It might seem that getting the sense that life isn’t about you is a downer, but this is what makes modesty life-affirming."