So this writer friend of mine, goes by RG Ryan here at VOX, recently posted that people are great at listing things they dislike about themselves. The obvious implication of this is that we seem to be nearly incapable of making a quick list of our virtues – those things that we actually like about our sorry selves. He kindly asked that his readers do this very thing: list five things you like about yourself and describe how easy or difficult it was to do. I was happy to oblige. Here is my list:
Five Things I Like About Myself
1. I like that I am a creative person.
2. I like that I’d rather read a book than watch a football game.
3. I like that I am so passionate about things.
4. I like that I have a sense of humor (albeit warped).
5. I like that I am capable of compassion and forgiveness.
Making a list like that is not entirely difficult for me, but I haven’t always been able to say that. If I had been asked to create this list five years ago, it would have taken me days and would have ended up significantly different. And the more I pondered the point of RG’s post – that most people are readily self-loathing* beings – the things I like about myself started to gather even more meaning. It’s one thing, for example, to be a creative person; it’s an entirely larger thing to honestly appreciate that fact without arrogance. It’s wonderful to have people laugh at my jokes, but it’s far more wonderful to know that I’ve said something that actually made someone happy.
What I’m trying to say is that if you’re being 100% honest, then just the act of listing those things you like about yourself will start your mind toward appreciating the true, eternal values of those attributes.
1. I like that I am a creative person
My boss and I were discussing artistic direction on some project or another and we digressed off onto a broader design topic. After a while, I mentioned to him how glad I was that I was an artist rather than a bean counter. I said I was sure that mathematicians and physicists also had a true love of their fields and that I was glad there were people who loved numbers so we could have things like computers and TVs and iPods, but that I was honestly happier to be the one to create the art for the packaging or advertising material. He said he agreed.
We started dissecting why that was, listing various things about being creative that we just couldn’t imagine living without: an appreciation of color and line and texture, a desire to artistically communicate what we perceive, an understanding of design dynamics and the way design affects us emotionally, the ability to see the world in so many abstract ways; the list went on and on. By the end of our conversation, I had a distinct knowledge, fully beyond ego, that what I did for a living had immense value and that my appreciation of my creativity was complete and genuine. It was a great feeling.
2. I like that I’d rather read a book than watch a football game
It’s not that I have no interest in professional sports. If there’s money to be made**, I’ll give them some small amount of attention. But on any given Sunday, I’d much rather kick back with a well-crafted novel. This fact makes me happy because I have just as little desire to keep track of sports scores and stats as I do counting beans. Perhaps it’s even a direct extension of being a creative person that I’d rather lose myself in a fictional fantasy than in a real-life ballgame.
3. I like that I am so passionate about things
Those of you who’ve been hanging around here a while could probably guess that I take a lot of shit for being so hard-core about things. I get animated, I get loud, I get frothy. I am a source of both entertainment and anxiety; it simply depends who you ask. I’ve always been this way and so, over the years, I’ve gotten quite used to spouting my opinion and having people react as if they think I might, at any moment, pull out a knife and commence with the stabbing. And now that I’m used to the wide-eyed stares and the nervous laughter, I’m happy, nay, thrilled to be such a vocal and fervent proponent of the things I believe in.
4. I like that I have a sense of humor
A well-developed sense of humor is invaluable not only because I happen to write a humor blog (occasionally), but also because of the fact that I embrace number three above. You see, when you are both passionate and witty, you tend to attract a lot of haters. A good sense of humor helps me laugh at a lot of the absurd bullshit that is often slung my way. Now I’m not saying I don’t have my bouts of serious up-tightness, but having the ability to make jokes about the endless stream of insanity probably has benefits I haven’t even discovered yet.
But honestly? Hearing Karin laugh is the best reason ever to keep making with the funny.
5. I like that I am capable of compassion and forgiveness
It’s odd that I came up with this one last, because it’s probably the one for which I am the most grateful. I’ve known so many people whose lives have been dark and dismal because they’ve been unable to forgive someone for some past wrong. I’ve known others for whom the only light of hope in a black world came when someone took pity on them. There are those who cannot forgive because they lack compassion and those who lack compassion because they were never forgiven.
All of us want the same things in life. Two of those things are to be loved and to be forgiven if we’ve erred. I’m immeasurably happy that I've discovered this truth. Because if I can forgive and show compassion, then so can someone else, and I'm pretty sure that's how world peace will eventually come about.
*Except, of course, for those painfully arrogant pricks out there who are, ironically, the truly hateful ones.
**Neighborhood Only link. Just ADD me or send me a PM letting me know you want to see it and I’ll let you in.