I will be honest, this post comes from a place of upset and is emotionally driven – but I felt it would be important to share.
I look around my living room at home and you know what I see? Pictures of my brother’s graduation, my mother’s graduation, my sister’s trampolining and gymnastics competition photos, her trophies, and her certificates. Then there’s my…prom photos? Is the most important thing I’ve ever achieved finishing senior school and going to prom?
You may think I’m overreacting but as I write this post I’m in my grandparents’ living room, and as I look around it’s much of the same. Brother’s graduation, mother’s, cousins’, and aunt’s (wow, they’re all well-educated). Wedding photos, grandparents receiving an award (I admit to not knowing what for) and again, my sister in athletic competitions. There’s a new photo, too, of my sister in Thailand because this year she went there alone for a month – an amazing achievement.
But all I have displayed is the same prom photos.
And it hurts. It hurts to realise that I’m the “loser” of the family. The one who hasn’t done anything (in my family’s eyes) worth displaying.
I got bitter at one point a few months back, I admit. I put together a collage of my achievements – my self-published books, my website, my self-employment, going to Budapest alone, going to Africa, speaking at a mental health event, running my own event, my support group, etc. – and printed it off to put on the inside of my wardrobe door so that I’d see it and be proud of myself.
I never said to my mom that I felt sad that there was no display of my achievements. I decided I’d cheer for myself, instead.
And I stick by that, even now when I’m writing this post after realising my grandparents had no display of my achievements either. I’ve since moved this collage that I printed off, but I feel good for having done it. I needed to remind myself that I wasn’t the failure I thought I was.
So, I think we all could do with cheering for ourselves. There are things in life that seem like a big deal to everyone: graduating from university, getting a good job, winning competitions, making a lot of money, getting married, having children, going places not many have gone, and so on. But there are also things in life that will only be a big deal to you.
And you deserve to clap your hands and cheer for your own damn self.
If you’ve worked hard, if you’ve achieved something, if you have overcome something, if you are better than last year, if you have done something with your life – don’t wait for the applause from others. Sadly, it may never come.
Learn to love the sound of your own cheers. Learn to keep going with the motivation purely being “I know I’ll be so proud of myself when I do this.”
It will improve your mental health, your focus, your motivation, your dedication, your passion, and your vision. You’ll start doing things for you, and that will bring confidence in who you are and what you want.
Write a list of your achievements and look at it when you feel low or have self-doubt creeping in. Print off pictures like I did. Say to yourself every now and then “I’m proud of you, I really am.”
Don’t let validation from others be your driving force. Valid yourself and your achievements because they matter. You matter. You’re doing just fine.
If nothing else, I see you. I believe in you.
P.s. I’m not saying my family don’t love me or appreciate my accomplishments. I was just speaking from the feelings I got when seeing others’ achievements displayed this way, and how it made me feel and how we all can feel when seeing other people’s achievements and not seeing the appreciation for our own.