What Pride and Being Proud Of Myself Means To Me
The first time I heard someone say “I am proud of you” was when I was 25 years old. A bit old for that, don’t you think? It was when I had been accepted into university in Sweden and my boyfriend at the time read the acceptance letter with me. And I remember the goosebumps I got from his words, the warmth that spread within me, the big smile on my face. I know that the reason for my difficulties to acknowledge my own accomplishments comes from the lack of acknowledgment in my past. Pride is not a feeling I often experience and is still something that I rather intellectualize than openly express as my own.
Different Kinds of Pride
For me, pride has for long been connected to cultural and national pride. Those are concepts that I don’t relate to, at all. My “father”, coming from Iran, often talked about the honour and pride of family. To me, it often seemed more like defense strategies to avoid shame. It was about holding your head high and the importance of how others saw you. I never understood why it would be important to seem successful, to seem functioning, when it really all just was a front.
And national pride, well. I am born and raised in Germany and that is a little bit of an icky point for us Germans, isn’t it? And I have a diverse background and I have lived in three countries so far. I don’t identify with my nationalities, citizenships or my cultural heritage. I don’t understand how anyone could be proud of where they are from, what their ancestors have done, or what their place of birth culturally represents.
The same goes for my sexuality. I am pansexual but am I proud of it? No, I am not. I never had a huge coming out moment although my sexuality was confusing for me for a long time. But I don’t identify much with the LGBTQ+ movement, because I don’t have that sense of pride. I want it to be normalized to be queer, to be gender diverse. Yes. But I have never understood the notion of being proud of your sexuality. This is just who I am. I can celebrate that, sure. But pride? I am not sure I can relate to that.
See, for me, pride has absolutely nothing to do with who I am, where I come from, who my parents are or who I can fall in love with. Pride, for me, has only to do with real accomplishments, with things that I can do, things that I have done well or things that I have created. I personally don’t relate to concepts of honour and pride, national pride or being proud of one’s sexuality. I am not saying that this should be the way everyone approaches the concept of pride. We all have our own definitions and understandings of it. And that is okay because pride is first and foremost a feeling, and we all identify and describe feelings differently. But what pride feels like inside: the warm fuzzies of feeling good about something? I think that is something that most people experience similarly.
I Am Proud
Ever since that first time I heard someone say that they are proud of me, I wanted to hear it again. I understood that I had this strong need for validation from those who know me, and whose opinion of me I valued. Being in a D/s relationship right now, meets that need perfectly. Every time I hear that “good girl”, I feel the same kind of glowing warmth I felt that day with my ex when he told me that he is proud of me.
Since I have been aware that those I care about actually applaud my accomplishments or appreciate my efforts, I have been able to feel pride in those things too. It is a difficult road for me to walk on though. I often feel uncomfortable when people give me compliments. I find it awkward and embarrassing. On the other hand, if those compliments are about my achievements or something I have done well, I don’t experience that awkwardness that strongly. And that is how I have approached it with myself as well.
I don’t look in the mirror and think: wow, I am pretty. I can go with: Wow, I really managed to do my make up well. And that is where feeling proud of myself comes in: it is always about things that I have done. And not only that. Things that I have done, and that I have put an extra effort into, and that I wasn’t sure about I’d succeed with.
The things that I feel are accomplishments and that I am proud of, might not be the same for the majority of people. Due to the limitations that my mental and physical illnesses put on me and my life, it is often things that others take for granted. A good example would be that I am very proud of myself for having taken a shower every single day since the first of January of the new year, that I have done skin care every day and brushed my teeth twice a day. Most people would be like: huh? I have done that every day all my life? – Well, I haven’t. Because depression sucks. Because lack of energy sucks. So I am proud of myself for taking care of myself.
Of course there are some accomplishments in my life that I am proud of and that even others would see as “moments of pride”. I graduated highschool and held the farewell speech. I won several writing competitions. And I managed to lose 60 kg of weight all by myself. I graduated from university and have several degrees. And I can speak three languages fluently. I am a successful sex blogger. But the one thing that I am most proud of is that I have survived. Despite my past, despite my struggles, despite of everything, I have had this little ounce of strength in me that has carried me to become 38 years old. Honestly, I never thought I’d even make it to 30. So yes, that is the one thing I am most proud of. I am still alive.
There is of course this nagging voice inside of me that often tells me that I could have done better. That none of what I do today, or who I am today, is something to be proud of. Instead, I should be ashamed for not having done more with the talents and skills that I have, for not being able to keep my sick mind and body under control. For not being a mother, or have a normal day job, or a rich social life. I know I will always have that inner critic that will try to tear down all my accomplishments and that will poke me every time I feel good about myself. But that is alright. Despite that, I can still have moments of pride, when I can look at something that I have done, pat myself on the shoulder and say: “Well done!” .