Fifty Things to be Proud Of

As an artist (and I include writing under the title artist), I often read books on how to increase my creativity.  The book I’m working my way through right now is The Right to Write, An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life by Julia Cameron.  It’s a new age-y feel good type of book that focuses more on how the reader feels about writing than the correct forms of writing, but it’s a good book for what it is.  After all, I know how to write, I know the rules for proper writing and I know when I’m breaking the rules, too.

The exercise I’m working on right now is called “Valuing Our Experience.”  It’s pretty simple, actually, but not easy for me.  The instructions are to write down fifty things I’m proud of myself for.

Living with my parents, there wasn’t anything in their opinion I could do that I could be proud of.  If I did well in school it was expected of me, or the step-father’s biological daughter did so much better.  If I tried something like making some art or writing, it was all extremely bad in my parents view.   Everything I did was mediocre at best in their eyes.

Even after I went to live with my grandparents, pride in my accomplishments wasn’t really encouraged.  For different reasons than my parents had, my grandparents always shot down any attempt I made to feel good about what I’d done.  Win a speech contest or make the Dean’s List for grades, it didn’t matter.  Even though Grandma would give me positive reinforcement when I excelled at things, if I ever sounded like I was proud of my accomplishments, she would tell me, “Self praise stinks,” or ask if my arm was breaking by trying to pat my own self on the back.

I know that Grandma was trying to teach me humility.  However, what she and my parents both taught me was that there wasn’t anything I did that was good enough for me to be proud of myself for.  Because of that, trying to come up with fifty things to complete  this exercise is difficult, even so many years later.

I realize this exercise is important to me, and so I keep working on it. 

I looked up the definition of self esteem at dictionary.com.  The website gave this definition: 

1. a realistic respect for or favorable impression of oneself; self-respect.

It also  lists the synonym of self esteem as pride. 

How can I have self esteem if I can’t recognize the things I’m proud of? 

I’m still working on my list, but here’s a few highlights:

  • Taking 6th place in Humorous Interpretation in a speech competition in High School
  • Winning District for the American Legion Oratorical Competiton in my senior year in High School
  • Staying in front of the audience after I froze and couldn’t speak at all for 3 minutes at my first American Legion Oratorical Competition in my sophomore year, and not running crying from the auditorium
  • Having a story published last year in my local newspaper
  • Being an excellent cook
  • Teaching myself lace making, weaving, sewing
  • Seeking a second opinion from a different doctor and getting my knee fixed
  • Committing to the months of physical therapy it took to get my knee back to normal after the surgery
  • The way my body gains strength and flexibility easily
  • I recycle, and have been recycling since before recycling was cool

That’s ten things, and it was hard to do.  I’m still working on the other forty.

What things are you proud of yourself for?  Is it easy or hard for you to come up with a list of thing to be proud of in yourself?  If you can’t think of fifty things right off the bat, can you think of ten?  If not, why do you think that is?

I know pride is considered a bad thing in society.  However, I’m finding that appropriate pride really is important to building self esteem.

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8 Responses

  1. It used to be what was called overweening pride that wasn’t well-looked upon by society, but I think people got carried away with it and decided that any kind of pride was a bad thing. Personally, I think everyone has something of which they are proud, and reasonably so, but maybe bragging about those things of which they are proud is where it gets problematic. I have a list in my head of things that make me proud of myself, but it’s not something I talk about very often. It’s enough for me to know that I have those accomplishments/talents/abilities/characteristics and I’m proud of them.

  2. Nothing! Self-esteem is for other people. After all, pride is a deadly sin! Not that I’m even Christian or anything. But I don’t think I could think something positive about myself and avoid letting on about it enough to not be considered a nasty, nasty egomaniac if the topic ever came up. I suck at lying.

  3. I will have to check this book out! I am a big fan of Julia Cameron’s and like her book The Artist’s Way, a lot. Some items to add to your list: your abilty to express yourself in an eloquent and relatable way; your ability to inspire others; your intelligence in providing advice and support to others who are trying to start blogs of their own; the fact that you found your voice after all that you have been through; that you are a good cook; that you so thoughtfully and conscientiously look after your MIL; that you have a great deal of empathy; that you continue to grow and learn about life each and every day. These are definitely things to be proud of! Thanks for today’s entry!

  4. For years, a big part of my eating disorder recovey was listing stuff that I liked about me.
    While low-self-esteem in women is encouraged in our culture, I prefer to buck that trend… as it just makes life feel crappy to not appreciate onself!!

    At first, it was really difficult to come up with 5 things that I really liked about myself. Nowadays, I can come up with 20 off the top of my head… here are some!…

    I love my green eyes.
    I am a natural with animals.
    I am compassionate.
    I am a great cat mom.
    I have academic talents.
    I give a good massage.
    I have a neat sense of humor.
    I’m pretty quick at learning new softwares.
    I have a knack for picking up new languages.
    I am good at coaching and training people.
    I have a talent for buying gifts for people that they like (I am told… heh).
    I am a supportive friend.
    I try to be as honest as possible.
    I have the courage to share my story so that it may help others and help me heal.

    That list was super-easy to put together for me… but I’ve had lots of practice. This skill gets way easier with practice and I support your learning to list these things and appreciate yourself!

    I used to be super active on this eating disorder recovery site (that I have since quit as I didn’t agree with many of their basic stances anymore) and one of the favorite threads that I posted on a regular basis was a gratitude thread… everyone would get on the bandwagon and list the things they were proud of and grateful for. Often these were things about themselves… I remember this one lovely girl started a list by appreciating her lovely breasts.

    Maybe a post or thread like that would be something fun to do… eh? If you want to use that idea on your blog, my friend, you are most welcome. If not – it’s all good. 😀 just saying. 🙂

    • Maybe a post or thread like that would be something fun to do… eh? If you want to use that idea on your blog, my friend, you are most welcome.

      That’s a great idea, and thank you. I will definately be using it in the next week. 🙂

  5. I was watching the “Girls Rock” documentary last night (highly recommended, BTW), and one of the striking statistics they gave was that when asked to name their “best feature,” boys were more likely to name a talent, and girls more likely to name a body part!

    Yes, women especially learn very young not to toot their own horns, and then only about stuff they have nothing to do with at all. (It’s not like you can plan to have “nice collarbones” the way you can plan to learn to play electric guitar solos.)

    I was inspired by you, and I made my own list today! I thought it would be hard to think of 50 things, but it was surprisingly easy. I did have to resort to a few silly ones, though, like, “I can pee really fast in a public restroom.”

    • I did have to resort to a few silly ones, though, like, “I can pee really fast in a public restroom.”

      Yanno, in some public restrooms, that’s a REALLY good ability to have and be proud of! 😀

      I’m glad you were able to come up with 50. I’m still working on my remainding 40. 🙂

  6. I think this is an excellent exercise that everyone needs to take advantage of. I’m not good at this, either. “Pride goeth before a fall” and all that horseshit.

    I really will give this a try.

    Excellent post.

    🙂

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