Blog Preface: I speak a lot about gaslighting, because that was my experience. However, I’m not sure whether it was my history or just merely society and my gender that taught me to never be proud. So, please, feel free to let me know if this resonates with you even without a specific history.
PRIDE. I think a lot about pride. It feels like it’s been my lifelong goal. To just have someone…anyone…be proud of me. I’ve dreamt of making my family proud…of making them believe that I’m worthy of their pride. I’ve wanted to make my friends proud to know me. I’ve held this relationship goal in my heart that I wanted to be with someone who was proud to be with me (just as I would be proud to be with them).
That’s terrible, right? Pride cometh before a fall. We’ve all heard it. Don’t be proud. Be humble.
Or as I heard it…
There’s nothing special about you. Don’t brag, no one likes that. You’re doing what’s expected of you, why should you be proud of that? You should feel lucky I love you, but don’t expect me to have any pride in you.
So…I tried harder…and harder…and harder…
I gave everything I could in every relationship. I constantly strived to be the best. I constantly pushed to be perfect. Anything I could do…to make someone proud…and happy enough that I was there, that they would never leave.
It didn’t work. And, up until this morning, I’m not sure I fully grasped why it didn’t work. But this morning it hit me.
What kind of pride was I showing in myself by saying that I needed to do more and more and more and more to make someone proud of me?
The fact that THEY weren’t proud of me…I took that to mean that I shouldn’t be proud of me…which led them back to wondering why they should be proud of me….and around and around we go.
So, I lived in this cycle. This cycle of trying too hard…of trying to show that I was humble and giving and worthy…only to find myself alone and with zero pride in my own self. I begged for familial pride so hard that I constantly felt like I wasn’t enough. I allowed myself to be in relationships where I so desperately wanted my partner to be as proud to be with me as I was to be with them. ..but I always felt like they just believed that I should feel lucky that they stayed…there was nothing special about me, after all.
4 years ago I started a journey to find my pride…through the one place that I had ever believed in my own abilities…academia.
This December I graduate…and I have been TERRIFIED of this looming graduation. I have been so scared that I was going to find out that I wasted these last years and that I was still this broken person who wouldn’t believe in herself anymore and who would go back to making the same mistakes.
Until this morning.
I was feeling anxious. I was thinking about how I shouldn’t bother with a graduation ceremony. At my age that is stupid and prideful and no one cares. No one wants to celebrate something like that. “Ooooh…Sheri did something that she should have done 20 years ago…way to go…” <insert eye roll>
I caught myself thinking…I just want to matter. I want to KNOW that I matter to someone enough that they wouldn’t be there just because they figure they have to…but because they are so proud of me that they can’t imagine NOT being there.
I caught myself believing that this is something I’ll never have. I KNOW my friends are proud of me. PLEASE know that I know that. But…I caught myself hurting because of what I feel like I’m lacking. Pride from my family…pride of someone who chooses me every day because he feels so proud to be with me that he wants the world to know…the kind of pride that, lets be honest, we all search for from our parents or our forever partners.
And then…I caught myself being irritated…because why am I basing my pride on myself on whether any particular people can be proud of me? I’d be HELLA proud if I was my daughter. I’d be shouting from the rooftops with pride if I got to be with me.
Not because I’m awesome.
But because, no matter what, I TRY.
I try to be kind to everyone I meet (even those I don’t like…lol).
I try to be a friend to those in need.
I try to succeed at everything I do so that people know they can rely on me.
I try to leave this world a little better every day than I found it that morning.
I try. So hard.
And…you know what? I’m proud of that.
And I don’t need other people to tell me that I should be proud of that…or that I shouldn’t.
I AM PROUD.
And the best part of that? It means that I accomplished what I really set out to do 4 years ago. Degrees…no degrees…it’s not the point.
I found myself. I learned to love myself. I learned to be proud to be me.
And I suddenly feel overwhelmingly confident that I won’t backslide as soon as I graduate. Because this is who I am now.
And I’m proud of me.