When is the last time you took a moment to be proud of yourself? Be honest. When is the last time you stopped what you were doing, took stock of everything you have achieved and said, "I am proud of myself for these accomplishments?" If you are anything like me, you probably can't remember ever having done that; it has probably never occurred to you that it is something you can and should do.
I had this revelation for myself last week. As we were wrapping up the second week of the OOPS MN Launch Series, Carson and Kara both expressed unsolicited, heartfelt thanks for the opportunity OOPS gave them to create art they found meaningful. I felt a small swell of pride for a brief moment, because we were achieving what we set out to do with OOPS in the first place. And then that nasty little voice inside my head shut it down.
Don't feel proud of yourself. You have so much work left to do. How can you be proud when there is so much you haven't accomplished yet? What you have done is not good enough for pride. When you truly achieve perfection, maybe then you'll have something to be proud of.
When I think about it, being proud of me has always been a task best offloaded on to others; my husband/friends/family can do the work of being proud of me if they choose to, but I need to keep my head down and keep pushing forward. When people tell me they are proud of me, I usually sheepishly say "d'aww thanks," and then brush it off, because if they truly knew how much I haven't accomplished yet, they wouldn't be proud of me. (I think a blog post about Imposter Syndrome will be necessary in the future).
I spent a lot of time wrestling with myself last week, flipping between feeling a small sense of joy for doing something good, and then berating myself for feeling that way. Then I thought of Megan Rapinoe, the US Women's Soccer player who became a media sensation in 2019, not for scoring incredible goals in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, but for celebrating them. She garnered widespread criticism for these celebrations, but many came to Rapinoe's defense; why shouldn't a person at the top of her craft, who is playing on the greatest soccer stage in the world and doing something she has dreamed of doing since she was a little kid not be allowed to express joy in her accomplishments? If Megan Rapinoe isn't allowed to celebrate successes, then who is?
Growing up, I was taught that having pride is a bad thing (pride comes before the fall and whatnot). It has been drilled in to me that pride means egotism and an inflated sense of self worth over others, or the hubris to believe you possess skills or assets you truly do not have. But in 2019, I found myself siding with Rapinoe and her defenders. She worked hard to get where she is, and she earned those celebratory moments. I still admire her unapologetic joy and confidence to this day. It never occurred to me that I should look for these qualities in myself until two lovely Artists I admire immensely thanked us for giving them the opportunity to create something meaningful. After struggling with myself for days, I finally made the conscious decision to take a leaf out of Megan Rapinoe's book; I gave myself permission to be proud of that.
Here are the conclusions I have come to since then:
1) It is not arrogant to be proud of yourself; being proud is not the same as being prideful.
2) It is okay to be proud of how hard you are trying. Focus on your efforts, and you will see just how much you have to be proud of.
3) It is okay to be proud of how far you have come, even if you haven't reached your destination yet.
4) Celebrating your successes is motivating! Check out this wonderful TED Talk about how the right kind of pride leads to greater accomplishments: Research findings suggest that pride nudges the mind to value the future. So perhaps pride doesn’t always precede a fall; instead, it fosters diligence and dedication.
5) Being proud of your successes can help you recognize your strengths.
6) I am more likely to under-value my accomplishments or abilities than I am to over-value them.
I have decided to give myself time every day to be proud of something. Here are some things I am proud of so far today:
1) I worked out for 20 minutes and then walked my dog this morning before breakfast.
2) I wrote this blog post.
3) My dad called me for advice, and I was able to help him.
4) I have clear goals set out for the rest of my day.
5) I am proud of what OOPS has accomplished and of our goals for the future.
What are you proud of? Stop. Take stock. It's okay to take the time and recognize even the smallest things. I encourage you to share them with someone, whether it be in a comment on this blog post, with a friend or significant other, or just writing them down for yourself; putting your proud moments in to words makes them more real, more concrete. Trust me, it feels wonderful.
For a little extra kick of motivation, I will leave you with this quote by Beau Taplin: "Big Goals are important. You should always have a clear vision of where you would ultimately like to be. But be sure to set yourself a number of smaller goals along the way. Accomplishment drives ambition. The dream might be the destination, but the little triumphs will get you there."