As Mental Health Month draws to a close, I want to talk about something often overlooked: personal pride. A lot of press goes to self-help and self-care in the form of therapy, outdoor walks, or medication, all of which are excellent and good and necessary. I’d also propose that something as small as a little bit of pride can be wonderful, too.
As someone with anxiety and depression, I am rarely proud of myself. In my head it is always more about getting better at something, looking better, feeling better, or at least trying keep up a facade of being “good enough,” whatever that means. So when a rare shiny moment of pride comes up, I’m learning to sit up and listen, and bask in it for all it’s worth.
Last month I attended a conference for work. I am introverted, so I always walk into events like these thinking how draining they will be, and how nervous I’ll be. Over the course of those few days, though, I was struck by how much easier networking has become for me over the last several years. I had colleagues to greet, a committee meeting to run, opinions to share, and expertise to pass on. I was doing it! And I wasn’t scared.
During and afterwards, I discovered an immense sense of pride in myself. I was proud of how much I’ve learned and grown professionally. I was proud to see myself as a confident professional — a stark contrast to the shy grad student that first attended these conferences almost 10 years ago. It was kind of novel, actually, how good it felt to be proud of myself. To pause for a moment or two, and just glow.
I’m trying now to realize pride doesn’t necessarily have to come from something as grandiose as professional growth. I can simply be proud because I got out of bed this morning. Proud that I made it through another day. Proud that I made a good choice for myself. Acknowledging ourselves is so, so important. And I’m learning.