Sometimes we all need to take an inventory of ourselves. The world we live in today pressures us to look outside of ourselves to find fault and blame and happiness and fulfillment. We as a society have been conditioned to hang our mood and self-worth on the conditions around us rather than the conditions within us.
A few months ago, I realized that I needed a paradigm shift of how I view myself. So, I tried this challenge, Oola for Women, but it didn’t go well because I wasn’t committed. I tried to cheat some of the challenges, and to be honest, I didn’t even complete the first week.
This morning, I started the challenge again with a determined and optimistic mindset. I would not allow myself to cheat the challenge set before me by only doing part of it. I told myself, “If I am totally committed to changing my paradigm, then I can’t do this halfway and call it good. I have to do it all, even the uncomfortable bits. Change cannot happen if I am unwilling to stretch.”
So, I got up and began the challenge of walking for 7 minutes and naming and writing down 7 things I like about myself. It isn’t just that I need to name 7 things I like about myself; I also need to be able to spend 7 minutes alone with myself and my thoughts with no distractions – no music, no conversations with other people, no errands to run – just me and my thoughts having a conversation with myself. That is the part I was trying to cheat. I could have easily stayed in bed and found 7 things about myself that I like, but then I wouldn’t be stretching myself, and the changes that need to happen won’t happen.
It was harder than I thought it would be, and I had to take the whole of the seven minutes to find seven things I like about myself. However, by the end of the time, I had my seven. Then, I set about writing them down.
Here is my list of what I like about myself, in no particular order:
- My eyes – To be specific, I like the way my eyes look when I put on make-up. I am enchanting and empowering and mesmerizing when I do my make-up just right. It doesn’t have to be big and bold like I do for a performance, although that looks really quite amazing as well. Just doing a subtle daytime business look is enough to give me a confidence boost because I am highlighting a feature that speaks louder than my words could ever be. The eyes are the window to the soul and mine are no different.
- My compassion and empathy – I am a very passionate person, and I care for people who are part of my life. Sometimes people take advantage of this side of my personality, and sometimes I want to shut myself away- build walls around my heart to protect myself from getting hurt again. Ultimately, I am incapable of doing that. Sometimes I feel too much or too deeply, and sometimes I am going to get hurt, but that only makes me kinder. I like that I can share in other people’s joy and pain. It makes it easier to connect, and it makes the connections genuine. I like caring for people.
- My skills as a teacher – I cannot express how much I like that I am a teacher. It is who I am. While I am employed as a school teacher, that is not exactly what I am talking about. I like sharing what I am I learning and what I have learned with others. I like the feeling I get when someone has a lightbulb moment – child or adult. In my classroom, I like finding new and interesting ways to present the material. I like conversations that lead to self-discovery, self-empowerment, and self-realization. I like that friends and family alike will ask me to show them how to do something because they know I will be able to explain it in a way that makes sense to them. I like that I am a teacher.
- My perseverance – Having a never-give-up attitude is something that I am still working on, but I like that I keep going even when things become difficult. Sure, I might cry a little or express loudly my dismay and belief that the situation is hopeless (just ask my dance instructors), but when it really comes down to it, I don’t give up. I like that despite difficulties I have continued and will finish my Master’s degree by this time next year. I like that I keep pushing myself and setting new goals for my dancing.
- My search for knowledge – How many times do we talk about being open to new ideas and other viewpoints? I like that I choose to learn new things whether it is a new skill or a new piece of knowledge. I like that I pursue new ideas to help expand my worldview. Currently, I am learning, slowly, how to use my cameras, both the one on my phone and my older Canon Rebel. I like that I still look for new ways to engage students in my classroom. I like that I am willing to try new recipes to help my family eat healthier. I like that I like learning.
- My ability to tell a story – I love telling a story. I like that when I give myself the time to create a story or a poem I can draw people into a world that I have created. I like that I can paint a picture with words that capture the imagination and the hearts of the reader. I like taking aspects of my own life as inspiration and shaping them to create the pieces that express what others can’t. I enjoy connecting the world through words and imagery even if it is just a small piece and for a small time.
- My cultivating a positive friend group – My heart is overflowing with the support my friends and family have shown me over the years. I have not always made the best choices in the company I chose to keep. However, in more recent years, I have been taking a closer look at who really should be part of my friends-and-family-plan group. The ones who made me feel loved and wanted and visible are the relationships that I have been cultivating and strengthening. I like that I like myself enough now to know who is worth investing in and planning for and who is worth the occasional expenditure. I like that cultivating the worthwhile friend group is an ongoing process that will keep me connected and grounded, and I like that I am willing to spend the time to stay connected.
Well, there you have it folks. My 7 minutes of time with myself turned into an hour of self-reflection as I thought about why I liked these things about myself. For me, it was important that I identify not only what I like about myself, but also why I like those aspects of me. I had to write them down with the explanations, so I can look back later and understand where my mindset was at this moment. I want to be able to see how far I’ve come while knowing that there is always farther to go.