I know a lot of people right now who are struggling. They are struggling with jobs, self-image, getting unclear direction from the people who are supposed to “know.” They get mixed messages from doctors, lawyers, specialists, friends and family. This does not include the struggles that live in general puts on people, environmental factors, economic factors and peer pressure.
We encounter people every day in our lives who have pressure on them and are struggling with life. For some reason, we try to offer them grace and say we don’t know the whole situation so we should not think badly about them or give them a hard time. We do that without even thinking.
How often, though, are we struggling and feeling pressure and don’t give ourselves that same gift? We think there’s something wrong with us that we can’t find a way out of the pressure chamber we live in. If I could just work harder… If I could just be better… If I could just handle this differently…
There are some people in our lives that thrive on the pressure. They do well no matter what. There are some who thrive on the drama created by the pressure. They thrive at feeling bad. Most of us, however, are stuck in that place where we can see what we want in others’ reactions but can’t figure it out for ourselves. We wonder how our friend can deal with so many things. We admire that strength and tenacity in them, but wonder why we don’t have it in ourselves.
(Here’s a little hint. You do.)
In oysters, pressure and irritation creates pearls. In coal, it creates diamonds. In people, it creates anxiety, hopelessness and depression. When we get anxious, hopeless and depressed, we shut down. We stop doing the things we enjoy because we don’t enjoy them as much. We don’t go out with friends. We hole up and try to fortify ourselves. You know, take time to, find that “stiff upper lip,” but what we really feel is just, sad. Then our lip quivers. We aren’t supposed to let our lips quiver either. Isn’t the saying never let them see you sweat? Or cry? Or be sad? Or be who we really are?
I don’t know about you, but I can’t do that. If I’m sad, I can’t fake it anymore. Sometimes I get sad or scared. I cry at commercial about how much people care about each other. It is much more real and human to show the emotions than to shove them down and not show who you are. Other people affect me. There pain isn’t mine, but I feel it. I feel their sadness. I feel their joy. That makes me human, like everyone else.
It isn’t fair to me, or you, or anyone else, to have to hide who we are. It is a long process to find who we are, but it is well worth the journey. People will think you’re weird or strange or crazy, but they are going to anyway. So wouldn’t it feel better to be yourself than have to hide it and feel miserable about it?
(Here’s another hint. It does feel better.)
So, today I am asking you to do something. It requires a little effort and might be uncomfortable, but please try it. I think you’ll be happy with the results.
I’m asking you to look at one friend, family member or celebrity you admire. Ask yourself what is the one thing about that person that you admire most. Please choose just one thing and start with that. Once you go through this, it might be more easy and less overwhelming to find another thing. For now, though, just start with one. Write that one word on a piece of paper. Put the piece of paper somewhere you will see it every day, like your bathroom mirror. If you are familiar with a photoshopping program or picmonkey or some other site to make the word more attractive than just on a sheet of paper, that is fine as well. Then look at the word every day.
It is my guess that the quality you choose will be something you wish you had. (It is also my guess that you really do have it, but the societal garbage has buried it and you don’t see it anymore.) I hope you find it in yourself, or if not the exact quality you see in someone else, you find something totally awesome about yourself that you didn’t realize or where afraid to show.
You deserve a life covered in epic awesomesauce. Why? Because you are awesome, even if you don’t yet believe it. Jennifer and I believe it. And hope that you will too.
So please, try this little exercise. We’d love to hear what you discover.