We humans love praise. We don’t like to admit it, and we’re usually uncomfortable receiving it. We’d like to have some transcendental, detached attitude about how we do what we do because we love it, regardless of what anyone else thinks. Like “art for art’s sake.” But the truth is, at least in my opinion, everyone has a tinge–or maybe a giant blot–of insecurity. Praise helps us get over the insecurity and confirms our quiet suspicion that whatever we did was actually pretty good. We need it. Like dogs.
Like everyone, I appreciate praise. I have a store of personal triumphs in the back of my brain–instances from school, jobs or life in general when my work or effort impressed someone else enough that they made a point of telling me so.
I think back on those moments when I’m doubting my abilities. Reminders of past success give me confidence that I can be successful now, too.
But those moments of pride have an even greater value. The self-styled life is about putting together a lifestyle that reflects who I am–what motivates me, what I’m passionate about, what my interests are. Of course, discovering those details is almost as much of a challenge as finding a way to incorporate all of them into my lifestyle. I’ve realized that my secret stash of confidence boosters is an accurate indicator of that magic recipe for happiness. There is a discernible pattern in the collection of memories and mementos of past triumphs. The pattern tells me what has mattered to me, where I put my best efforts and what has contributed the most to my sense of self-worth. I have chosen these moments over the years to define me.
It’s a good (and oft-noted) self-discovery exercise for anyone who’s struggling to find her passion, and a career related to it. Reflect on those moments you hold onto when you know you were at your best and other people saw it too. Spot a pattern?
So you might wonder, what’s my pattern? Well, I’ve realized the moments I cling to are mostly related to things I’ve written…
Do you keep a mental collection of past praise? Is there a pattern to it?