I am writing this from Amsterdam airport whilst en route to some training in the USA. There is something about airports that make me feel reflective. In my last post I was feeling reflective too, and I have done whilst I had the chance to attend my regular women’s circle and catch up with friends after a few weeks out of the loop.
I’ve taken the opportunity to share with these friends about my experiences, challenges and successes over not only the last few weeks but the last year or so. It got me thinking, there was a time when I would have felt deeply uncomfortable about telling others about my successes, and even more so if I had dared say ‘I’m proud of myself’. It made me wonder, is it ok to say those words? To declare your pride, for yourself?
Sometimes we can be really focussed on providing others with encouragement and support that we can forget to do the same for ourselves. Or perhaps, we are moving from one task or challenge to another without a chance to stop and take stock, to realise how far we’ve come and to congratulate ourselves for what we’ve done.
When we share our successes with those who love and support us, or those who are helping us develop both personally and professionally, we are often met with congratulations and encouragement, which is lovely. But can we really soak that up if we aren’t congratulating and encouraging ourselves?
I’ve learnt over the last three or four years, and even more so since starting a PhD that it is absolutely vital to sing our own praises – even if it sometimes feels uncomfortable. We don’t have to shout it from the rooftops or display it all over social media (though if that’s your thing and you’re proud of yourself – please, go for it!!). We might choose to reflect with just ourselves, it might be an inner process that we keep close and dear to us. Or it might be something we share with a select few who we know can go some way to understanding what we’ve achieved.
But, it’s important to remember that only we can fully know the journey we’ve been on, whether that be personal, professional or otherwise. Only we can know just how hard things might have been or what it took to overcome a challenge. So really, in a way, we are the only ones who can be truly proud of our efforts – because we are the only ones who know our experiences intimately in a way that nobody else can, no matter how much we share or explore with others.
Then we have the other side of the coin, when we share with those who really clearly don’t understand what we’re proud of, or what it means to us. It can be disappointing and it can sometimes take away from the overall experience, which is sad. However, with a deeply trusting pride in yourself, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. It doesn’t matter how they perceive your experiences or how much value they place on what you’ve achieved. Because you know, in your heart, that you have done well and you are proud of yourself. And nobody can take that away, because nobody can truly know what you’ve done.
Therefore, I’ve learnt and now truly believe, that it is not only ok to say ‘I’m proud of myself’, but it is absolutely imperative. We are available to ourselves 24/7 and we can give ourselves that encouragement and be proud of ourselves for our achievements. It is not big-headed or narcissistic – it is an act of self-love and value, which sustains you from the inside out and makes it possible to live the life you want doing the things you want to do.
In the spirit of this, having done some reflecting on my own achievements, mainly personal but also PhD related, I am celebrating. I am rewarding myself and I am making a financial investment in myself to mark this point in my journey and to show my commitment to myself. I encourage you to take a moment to find some pride for yourself, it doesn’t have to be anything big. In fact, the smaller things that often go unnoticed are those that you can hook onto every single day. Yes, you may have secured that funding grant, but did it take every ounce of energy and willpower to get out of bed and get to work today? Be proud of yourself! Are you remembering to take your medication even though you often forget? Be proud of yourself! Are you persisting with something that is really difficult, putting one foot in front of the other? Please, be proud of yourself!
When you can be proud of yourself you can begin to develop a sense of confidence that is unshakeable.
And those who celebrate with you and are proud of you too? Well that is just a beautiful added bonus.
I’m proud of me, and I’m proud of you, until next time 🙂