Healthy pride has been a big topic of conversation in my life lately. Let’s get real: Confidence is sexy. Arrogance is annoying.
As my acting coach explained the other day, “When your shoulders are straight and head is held high you make everyone in your vicinity feel tall…. because deep down, you feel good about yourself and that radiates outwards.”
Yet, our society still looks down upon patting ourselves on the back. We constantly strive for the next goal yet rarely pause to celebrate them. I’m not saying we have to puff out our chests a la “I’m the Shit!” Kanye West but self-deprecation is getting really old in my book.
We live in a culture of extremes: While it’s totally kosher to self-promote your shit via social media all day long (guilt as charged! only way to bring home the bread these days!) we are conditioned to negate compliments in any form. We get one book deal and are already onto the next. Instead of being proud about the album we dropped we are pissed that Pitchfork (damn those snobs!) didn’t review it.
“Look at your Facebook Year in Review from time to time,” said a dear friend over a glass of wine last night. “It’s amazing to see how many small successes we achieve in just 365 days.” Slowly, indeed, they create the Mount Everest we have imagined in our overachieving minds.
Yesterday I proofread the press release for my first book. It was definitely the most thrilling moment of my day. The fact that my publishers so beautifully articulated my project was beyond encouraging. They embodied the ethos that I was going for all along: life is too long to not do your thing!
I used to get knocked down very easily. If someone dug my writing, I was planning my Pulitzer Prize speech. If the next client wasn’t pleased I would search Craigslist for manual labor jobs. Over time, I’ve become more even tempered however it’s a daily process trying not to feed too much into what other people think. It’s why I ask the same question in every interview: What is the cornerstone that keeps you going when there isn’t any external validation?
My ego definitely gets bruised when I see that people have unsubscribed from my email list. (Sorry for you— good things are coming soon!) However, being mindful of all the great things in my life generally gets me right back to center.
So I would like to offer a “good job,” thumbs up and congrats on whatever you are working towards right now. Maybe if we replaced criticism with a sense of caring even just 1% of the time, the world would be a less intimidating place to pursue what you love.