In my first “30 Days of Truth” post, I mulled over the fact that it’s so, so easy to find things that you hate about yourself. One of my perceptive commenters (from The Polka Dot Palace) noted that it would probably be much harder to find something that you love about yourself. Yes, my friend, you’ve hit the nail on the head.
But here’s the thing: there are actually a lot of things that I love about myself, when I think about it. So why does it seem harder? We live in a culture where it’s often considered a bad thing to speak well of yourself. You don’t want to seem too proud (I mean, come on, pride is one of the seven deadly sins!). Humility is a virtue, so we learn to always downplay our successes. And while this is true for everyone, I think it’s even more true for women. Little girls learn, whether from their parents, teachers, peers, the media, or culture generally, that it’s important to be demure, quiet, and self-effacing.
The problem is that when you spend your life telling everyone else that you’re not really that great, you start to believe it yourself. “Oh, that 5 on my AP test? I must have gotten lucky.” “No seriously, you’re not fat, but look at me!” “Yeah, I graduated with honors, but I’ve just always been good in school. It’s not a big deal.” We say these things to make ourselves seem humble, to make others feel better about themselves. But then we start to believe that our luck might run out, that we’re not pretty enough, that we won’t succeed in the real world.
And even worse, we train our minds to follow certain thought patterns. When someone asks us what we’re good at, we honestly have trouble thinking of something. We find the “interview answers”: I’m very organized, I work well with others, I always meet deadlines. But we struggle to dig deeper, to find what really drives us and what we really excel at.
Pride is not evil. It doesn’t make you a bad person if you celebrate your successes and tell the world why you’re great. There’s no reason that a “good girl” needs to diminish herself or be self-deprecating. Knowing what you’re good at and what you love about yourself will give you the ability to find joy and love in life. We need to teach our children to be proud. And there’s no better way than to model for them. So celebrate yourself. Start by leaving a comment telling me what you love about yourself. No one here will judge you for being too proud!
Oh, and what about me? I love that I’m not afraid to say what I’m thinking and to stick to my beliefs even in the face of opposition. So there!