Sources of Pride and Self Identification – What’s Healthy and What’s Not

What about yourself do you take pride in? Is it your work ethic? Your looks? Your social abilities? Or maybe it’s your dedication to a certain cause, or your commitment to friends and family. In a highly critical society, it’s easy to submit to self-judgment, and often, when things aren’t going our way, it’s easy to feel worthless, especially when the things we were once proud of no longer feel valid.
Let me give you an example to help clarify my point. Coming into college from high school, I was proud of many things in my life. I had a group of friends who admired me, a loving boyfriend, and a best friend who always had my back. I considered myself a successful, confident person, and figured that that would remain true no matter where I was or who I was with.
Then came O week. I remember the intense feelings of loneliness and self doubt I experienced in those seven days. I used to think of myself as smart and driven, but now everyone else was too. I had once thought of myself as pretty – now practically every girl around me seemed to be in a completely different league of beauty. I had once thought of myself as a good singer – now I was getting rejected by multiple A capella groups and failing horribly in auditions.

No longer was I the cool, confident person I had pictured myself to be - I was just another face in a sea of very cool, talented people, who all seemed an improved version of myself. No one here admired me. No one here loved me. No one here thought of me as special.
So much of my own self worth had come from what others thought, that without those people reminding me of what made me special, I had sunk into a dark abyss of self-doubt. Now that O week is over and we are a couple months into school, I’ve made some amazing friends, taken some time, and have become happy with myself once again.
But there’s an important lesson I learned from my first couple weeks of college. The experience made me realize how important it is to search within yourself, and find pride in the small things that make you you. I had staked too much in what others thought of me, that without them, I felt like nothing.
It’s important for people to realize that this should not be the case. Pride and happiness should not be based on circumstances, or how well we are doing at any given moment – they should be intrinsic values. I’ve learned to appreciate myself for who I am as a person no matter who I’m with or what they think of me. It’s important to accept that there’s always going to be someone better than you in some way. Someone more beautiful, some one more intelligent, some one more athletic, etc. So, it would follow that the only way to be truly happy is to love yourself for being the best version of you, because that’s the one thing that no one else can do better. We all have times of self-doubt, but when you can find pride within yourself, it makes those times so much easier.

So my advice to you? If you’re ever feeling down, do a little self-reflection and make a list of some of the things you love about yourself, because I guarantee you, we all have qualities to be proud of – it’s just a matter of identifying them for ourselves.

By Little Bear