celebrate YOU!

This week one of the sororities on campus chalked the sidewalk with messages about thinking positively. As I walked into my building, "Celebrate what YOU like about yourself, today" greeted me in chalk. I've been thinking about that challenge since this morning. I appreciated the emphasis on YOU; what do YOU like about yourself? So many times what we like about ourselves stems from external validation. We'll say things I'm a good listener or a good friend, both good qualities in their own right but both tied to relationships with others. I do not mean to suggest that it's bad to like the things about yourself that are also appealing to others. I could probably do better at cultivating those parts of myself, if I'm honest about it.

What I am suggesting is that responding with "being a good listener" is a kind of expected answer. It's an answer, I think, that shows how much of what we like about who we are is connected to what others see in us, and the kinds of external validation we've been provided much of our lives. I read something recently as part of Dream Lab that cautioned against treating ourselves like a constant improvement project, that there's a danger in not accepting ourselves for who we are. We write these lists about all the things we want to change, and while it's good to open ourselves and grow and evolve, I think we have to be careful about setting ourselves up for failure or not being authentic about how we can change.

We also don't brag about ourselves enough. I was taught humility was a virtue, to accept compliments demurely. I am uncomfortable when people say I'm beautiful, when they compliment my smile. I struggle with the need for recognition and what I do once I receive it.

The bottom line is this: we don't celebrate ourselves enough. We think about versions of who we're supposed to be; we beat ourselves up about all the things we don't do. I am on the waiting list at the library for Brene Brown's new book that covers exactly these issues: The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. I look forward to seeing how much more I can learn about this.

So, to celebrate myself here are some things I love about me:

I'm smart.
I'm a good storyteller.
I have good hair.
I love my sense of justice, the way I stand up for what I believe in.
My passion
My love of and felicity with words
My creativity

What do YOU love about you, today?