Some of the activity on the Torch’s Facebook page these past few days gave me food for thought. First, in the interest of generating some conversation, we asked our followers to share something about themselves they are proud of. We said it couldn’t be children, because that is too easy, and we wanted people to dig a little deeper. Very few people replied. The next day, we asked people, prefaced with “if you have the courage to share” to state something about themselves they would change. That post blew up. If you don’t know what I mean - a LOT of people commented about what they would like to change about themselves. I was trying to figure out what the dynamics were behind this. I hardly think out of the 1800+ followers we have on our Facebook only a couple have done anything to be proud of. Maybe it takes more courage to talk about the hard things we have accomplished than it does to point out what we don’t like about ourselves.
I can name a bunch of things right off the top of my head that I would change: I need more courage to deal with conflict; I should have been a better mom; I would like to be better at interpersonal relationships; sometimes I am offended too easily; and on and on and on.
I understand that nobody likes a braggart, but I also get that we are far more apt to criticize other people and ourselves than to encourage. We tend to remember to contact places of business when we have a complaint, and often forget when we want to compliment them or have a positive experience. It is the same with people. We just beat each other up, don’t we? I think we feel better about our own insecurities when we can look at other people and pick apart their weaknesses. The problem with that is, it brings all of us down together, and I think makes us afraid to speak up about the things we have done or currently do well. We need to feel positive about ourselves. We need to cut ourselves some slack and think positively about who we are and what we have done and can do.
I am proud I completed my Associates degree. That one was so hard to get, believe it or not. It took me eighteen years of taking classes whenever I had the time and could afford them. When I started the degree there was no such thing as a computer class for students. The last class I had to take to get the degree was a required class on Microsoft Office software. A whole era of technology and educational developments had occurred during those long years. I often felt discouraged and directionless as I changed my major several times and finally settled for a Liberal Studies degree. That basically means a little bit of everything. So I have an Associates degree in a little bit of everything which does absolutely nothing for my employability, but reminds me I can persevere.
I am proud I completed my Masters degree. I worked a full time job and a part time job and was raising teenagers when I did that one. There were a lot of late nights, and a lot of stressful mornings as I pushed through it. It took me four days locked in a hotel room to complete my thesis. I was exhausted, but exhilarated when my advisor finally gave her stamp of approval to the finished product. The day I had to defend it went without a flaw - and that was a testament to the hard work of preparation that went into it.
I am proud I found courage to hold my head high in spite of being surrounded at times by people who wanted to attack and tear me down. I lived through some desperate years, and it took every ounce of faith and perseverance I had to get through. But I got through, and came out on the other side with a deeper relationship with God and a greater understanding of what I am capable of doing.
I think it is the hard things we succeed at which are the things we can be proud of. I fully believe God was with me through each and every one of those events of my life, but I could have given up and walked away from Him and from those efforts at any time, yet I didn’t. I have to take time to remind myself of those things because I too-often find myself dwelling on my regrets and the things I would (or should) change. We need a balance of both. Think positive thoughts about yourself. Stop and congratulate you for doing the hard things and making the tough decisions. Be proud of the good things that you do - grow from them and use them as a launchpad for even greater things. You are a great human being!