Someone accused me the other day of "undignified" behaviour. Well, frankly, I've never seen myself as especially "dignified" in the first place. I'm just a very ordinary person fumbling my way through life in a rough-and-ready fashion, probably more stupefied than dignified.
In fact I'm rather suspicious of anyone whose aim in life is to be dignified. It suggests someone who's rather stiff and starchy, rather defensive, afraid to be themself in case they do something embarrassing or stupid or laughable.
They would rather do nothing at all than see other people looking down their noses at their unseemly or uncouth conduct. They would rather be "dignified" than interesting or amusing or witty.
But surely to live your life, to be who you are, or simply to enjoy yourself, you have to risk losing your dignity every minute of the day? You have to risk the inevitable pratfalls and cock-ups that go hand in hand with spontaneity and experiment.
I associate "dignity" mainly with those public figures whose reputation seems to rest on being aloof and pompous and never saying anything candid or off-message. The only result is that hardly anyone trusts them because their "dignity" is more important to them than getting on with the job.
I also associate "dignity" with emotional repression - not showing your grief or rage or even wild excitement because it's "undignified". Bottling everything up and pretending everything's fine is more "appropriate" than letting it all spill out and maybe making other people uncomfortable.
So no, I'm probably not a very dignified person. But I'll settle for being a sometimes toe-curling plain speaker.
PS: Isn't dignity just another word for respectability? Or is it something more than that?