Friday, October 11, 2013

Lessons from my 5 Year Old Self: Self Expression vs. Self Doubt

If life were easy, we'd all be doing a better job at it.

In most areas of my humble life, I desire in-achievable excellence & unrealistic competency of myself. If I learn a new trade, or attempt a project, I expect to do it well and efficiently the first time, which is why I often give up on things easily and without much effort put forth.

Of course, some of that is due to my impatient nature but I believe much of that is due to a perfectionistic expectation that I should do everything right, or not at all. 

Since becoming a stay-at-home momma, I've busied myself with everything from gardening to meal planning, working out to non profit work. 

I've enjoyed it all but, in my mind, it's not enough. I want a business I can call my own because I've learned to place my value in being good at things. So every few weeks I call my mom, sister and/or husband to excitedly rattle off my new latest, greatest business idea. They listen supportively and tell me to go for it.

And I do, in some small way. But then the whisper creeps into my head, "Why even bother? You'll never be good enough at that."

Ever seen a little kid who knows they are cute? It's refreshingly sweet to see that much self-confidence. 

One ridiculously self-expressive, confident kid
"Look at me do this!" 

I find it depressing to watch that same self confidence melt into self-doubt as that sweet kid grows older and discovers that the opinions of their peers and general "pessimistics" don't always match what mom & dad told them in childhood.

In my early childhood, I was told I was a great artist. I won art contests & enjoyed it very much. But somewhere along the way, I quit practicing, believing that I was not any good at it. Nowadays, I'm leery of trying because it never amounts to more than a sad attempt to recreate what came so naturely in childhood. 

Often, I am too bogged down with self-doubt to create self-expression.

I wish it wasn't so. I wish I still had the confidence to stand in front of a crowd and sing my little heart out to an old band stand tune, while simultaneously dancing a little choreography complete with shimmies and face framing. And not forget a single word or step. And not think twice about what anyone thought. I was five then, my uncle caught it on video. He posts it on my Facebook wall every now and then to taunt me but I don't care- I love it. There was a little girl who knew she was darn cute & proud of it. And didn't care that she wiped her nose on the entire length of her arm in front of everyone.

I was told recently we are only born with two innate fears- the fear of heights & sudden noises- all others are learned.

We learn the fear of failing, of people's opinions, self-doubt and self-sabotage along the way.

We learn to shut up and give up. 

We stop believing in ourselves and start believing the opinions of others.

I am writing this to you, dear readers, because I want to commit this next season of my life to plunging into a new state of mind, one in which I allow for more grace and love for myself.

A state of mind that doesn't self-criticize or strive but, instead, self-discovers the innate gifts God has given me for enjoyment and purpose.

I don't want to have a "care less" attitude; rather, I want to have a "care full" attitude that helps me to care more for myself & less about obtaining perfection. 

If life were easy, perfection would be obtainable.

Life is hard work. It's patience. It's learning. It's loving.

It's rediscovering our most innate gifts and learning new ones along the way.

It's giving ourselves grace and love the way God does.

Pride compares. It judges. It hates. It spits insults and unfair accusations. 

Self confidence builds. It's gracious. It's kind. It loves. It sets others at ease.

It's what I want for myself and for you. It's a beautiful thing and we all deserve more of it. 

Leah Hope Photography


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