Archive for the 'value' Category

17
Nov
14

the right to be you

the right to be youI have been on a hiatus of sorts.  It’s not because I haven’t had any thoughts, concerns or opinions about life.  I guess I just found myself coming up against the same roadblocks, questioning the source, perhaps a common one, of these consistent struggles.

Just the other night I was out with a beautiful artist.  I have seen her work many times and she is a kind-hearted, loving individual.  Yet I hear her say the very words which plague my own heart: can I do it?  Do I have any talent?  Am I beautiful?  I know the answer to all of these questions, but when we are alone with ourselves, we tend to create a comparison which always leaves us feeling less than.  Our society, especially American society, thrives on doing and results.  The expectations placed on us, especially women, make it almost impossible to find satisfaction and pride in oneself.

Society tells women that they must achieve an idyllic beauty which requires youth.  Obviously, this is impossible as we all age, but because so many others strive to reach this imposed rule, we do everything in our power to fulfill it.  Countless, beautiful, brilliant women of all ages with whom I’ve had the pleasure to know, have shared their fear of aging and remaining physically attractive.  The constant fear of gaining even a few pounds or showing signs of a wrinkle plagues their existence.

Then there’s the expectation that women should have it all; if they don’t have both a successful career and children, they disappoint someone.  Many women work hard to obtain an education and use it to compete in an unequal marketplace which not only expects them to give as much, but for less compensation.  Simultaneously, society also places pressure on women to have children whilst making it virtually impossible to maintain the same level of job performance.  Meanwhile, if they do give attention to their work, they may feel guilt or anxiety over their parental role.

As a result, society continues to place women in positions which inevitably cause them to seemingly fall short of its expectations in one area or another.  Personally, I’m tired of never feeling like enough.  No matter how much personal fulfillment I may find apart from society, as soon as I step off my island, I am reminded of my failures.

So how do we break this pattern?  How do we defy these expectations and create ones which build us up rather than tear each other down?  It is hard to walk this path against the grain alone and I don’t believe we are meant to go it alone.  Life is short.  Can we come together and simply claim the right to be ourselves?

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04
Sep
14

It’s what we do that defines us?

it's what you do that defines youAre we what we do?

A few days ago I was watching Batman Begins (yes I am a comic book/superhero movie junky).  Something that stuck out to me more than usual was this theme of, “It’s not who I am on the inside, but what I do that defines me.”  Originally, this quote came from Jane Austen whom I adore.  So I was surprised when it rubbed me the wrong way and got me to thinking…(Shamefully, I confess that I have not read Sense and Sensibility, so I do not know the context in which Austen was using this quote.  However, I can speculate that what she is referring to is far from the direction my thoughts took me.)

If we were stripped of everything- all of our capabilities of “doing,” would we still be ourselves and considered valuable?  As we grow older, and that’s something we all share as human beings, we become more restricted in what we can do and at what pace.  This is just a reality.  If we revolve our lives around what we do, the inevitability that one day we may not be able to do all that we do now can be frightening and even devastating.

Part of my struggle with starting a new career later in life was the issue of time.  Would I have enough time to fully pursue my dreams or was I too late?  Recently a friend shared about someone he knew who went to medical school and became a doctor in his late forties!  This was extremely encouraging to me and helped me to see that it is never too late to follow your heart.  However, it brought me back to the question of how I define myself – by what I do or who I am?

There are so many things I want to do but realize that I do not have the resources to do them right now – rescue animals, travel the world, live on the beach- but just because I cannot do them does not undermine the characteristics which make me have those desires.  Those dreams are what make me, me; not whether I accomplish them or not.  Many of us search for a purpose in life; something to contribute that no one else can or at least giving of ourselves in a productive way.  As a society we’ve created a measurement of human value based on what we do instead of simply who we are.

So how can we value one another and ourselves at any age no matter what we can or cannot do?  When can being ourselves be enough?