Tag: featured

do something, essay

Praise

From a young age, I have been involved in numerous choirs. I like to sing, but I haven’t had a lot of praise or criticism related to my ability to sing. I’ve some mildly positive comments, but that’s about it.

I am grateful for this. First, I’m not a great singer in the first place. But I’m also not a bad singer. So when I sing, I’m not worried about whether I’m doing it well or not. I’m just singing because I like to.

There are other aspects in my life where I have been much more sensitive to any praise or criticism that has come may way. I built my self-image around being good at academics or writing. The things I received the most praise about became part of who I am. And that wasn’t really a good thing.

Because no matter how good I am, there are always so many people who are better than me. I always have room for improvement. Sometimes, I’m not quite as good as I think I am–I have failed miserably at things that someone once praised me for.

I should never do things just to get praise. Who I am is different from what I do.

If I never received grades throughout school, I would probably be a different person. I would have a different, more resilient view of myself. I might be more willing to ask questions and admit what I don’t know. I would have learned more quickly to seek after learning for the sake of learning, not just to receive top marks.

Praise often does not lead to resiliency. It can lead to increased pressure and an inflated ego. Our self-worth needs to be based on who we are, not just what we can do in comparison to other people.

That doesn’t mean we stop praising people all together. But we need to be careful about the praise we hand out. Instead of saying, “You sing really well,” we can try, “I love to hear you sing.” Instead of saying, “You are really smart,” we might say, “I really am proud of how hard you have worked in school.” I am working on this with my children, but it’s hard, and I often shift back into the easier way of talking about things.

Sometimes we do things whether we are good at it or not–we do it because we enjoy it. In my experience, I find a lot more fulfillment and joy when I do things not because I’m good at them, but because I want to do something for its own sake. I learn to learn. I write to write. I like when I am focused on the work I am doing, instead of focused on myself and my reputation.

I am slowly trying to stop praising myself. I don’t have to be a good writer or a good singer or good at anything. I can just be me, and I can do those things and love them and that’s enough.

home

Loosing and Finding Home


I moved when I was five years old, and then I lived in the same house until I was twenty. I had the same bedroom for over a decade. Home was very much a specific place that I could rely on.

And then I moved out and I moved again and again and again.

We haven’t ever found a singular place to call home. The house I have lived in for the majority of my life still sort of feels like home in a way, but I’m now a visitor there.

For a while, my husband and I wanted to find someplace to call home. With all our moves, we knew that we hadn’t landed yet. We hadn’t found a place where we could settle down and live for years on end without thinking about moving again.

But more than that, I wanted a feeling of home. I wanted that place that was constant and unchanging. A place that felt reliable. A place that was always there. A place that felt more familiar than anything in the world.

I wanted a place where I could always feel like myself. A place I never had to pretend in. Somewhere where it was safe to laugh and safe to cry. Somewhere that would always forgive. A foundation to my life that never shifted.

Going home when I was a child was safety and peace. I was taken care of at home. I didn’t want anything more or less. I was happy.

I wanted that feeling again.

And after years of being an adult, I have realized that that feeling of home only exists when you are a child. Nowhere will ever feel like home quite like it did when you were young.

Because part of home was the fact that I had a mother and a father to take care of me and to take care of the house. Now I’m in charge.

So I’m worried about housing markets, interest rates, insurance, and bills. I’m worried about paint colors and furnishings. I’m worried about what’s for dinner and what I need to clean up next. I can’t ever sit and be completely still in my house again. Home is a feeling that doesn’t contain worry.

I can’t ever be completely at home because I am the one making the home. I am the one providing safety and peace. And while I can enjoy it in some ways, it will never be the same.

But that isn’t a bad thing. I am so grateful that I got that feeling of home when I was younger, because some people never have it in their lives.

And I know that my kids can feel how I did. That makes me happy–a different sort of happiness.

Home is different now. But different isn’t bad.

And I know that when this life ends, I’ll be able to find that feeling of home again, just like I felt as a child. Because I think that what I was feeling when I was kid–that feeling of safety and security and love–that was heaven.