She opened her lesson by passing out index cards and asking us to jot down a few thoughts on how to make ourselves better people. As the writing began, I was struck by the powerful emotions playing across the faces of my classmates. Sober, strained, pained, restrained...not one smile or even a neutral expression among them. This exercise was not a pleasant one for these young women, and I feared they were being too hard on themselves. I wanted to stand up and speak my mind, but I wasn't the teacher and it wasn't my place. This IS my place, though, so I've saved the unrequested pep talk all for you... ;)
Okay here is the gist of what I wanted to say. I'm a sucker for challenging projects, and improving my distinctly imperfect self qualifies. Don't get me wrong if I sound like my own worst critic; I'm more fan than flogger, and I rarely beat myself up. But I don't view myself through rose-colored glasses either. Knowing and accepting who I am allows me to look inward more comfortably––and more candidly––unafraid of finding faults among the flowers because I fully expect that outcome. I'm even okay with it! (Time is a great teacher.)
The thing is, we are far more than the sum of our faults. Every human being is flawed but fabulous, and owning that notion supports frank assessment while limiting discouragement. This even-handed paradigm is neither conceited nor contemptuous. It allows us to check in on ourselves honestly, without fear or self-protection.
Meeting and addressing our weaknesses can be seen as a great adventure, but we must turn inward with a friendly eye. Doing otherwise places us in defensive mode. We instinctively throw up barriers, muddying the waters to save ourselves from the evil (critical, castigating) eye we are using. Far better to look kindly upon our psyches, putting a sort of arm around ourselves as we dive bravely into that deep new sea of self-discovery.
Closing points I would have made to the girls:
- Murky waters are indiscriminate, hiding treasures as well as troubles.
- Viewing our depths clearly––in all our glory and lack thereof––is a gift, even if it does rock the boat a little.
- We are not and never will be black-and-white; everyone is teeming with colors.
- Not one person is perfect, least of all you, me, or whomever we admire most.
|(safety glasses, etc.)|
Better to use these instead.
just as I am, then I can change." - Carl Rogers