Monday, April 19, 2010

Today's post brought to you by the letters P, R, O, U and D....

It amazes me sometimes how much power a single word can have. I had never given the word "proud" a whole lot of thought, but in the last few weeks it seems to be a recurrning theme.

Proud is a word we often long to hear from other people, it tells us we have met or exceeded expectations, but more importantly we as a society seem to also tie it to acceptance and in some cases even love. For all the words that can be used proud seems to be the one with the highest value when it comes to measuring ourselves in others eyes, and I find that interesting. Especially since it seems to be one of the least used words in our language.

I can't say I ever remember even hearing the word in our home growing up. My parents were more the kind to ask why you hadn't reached the next milestone instead of stopping to recognize what you had done. Why wasn't the A and A+, why wasnt the 99 a 100, why did you hit a single when you should have gotten a double out of it. Anyone need to wondering why I am as obsessed as I am need not read far into that to find the answer *smile*, good enough was never good enough.

Growing up I would have told you it was my parents, that they were screwed up and just didn't know how to express themselves. I would have guessed everyone else's parents bathed them in how proud they were of them. I am learning as an adult, that is not the case. More and more people have commented to me lately about how their parents never said it to them either (one such conversation recently is what got me thinking about the word and lead to this post).

I also can't say I remember any of my teachers using the word either, although I can tell you at least one teacher growing up who I know was proud of me, he showed it in other ways, but I don't recall ever hearing it said. I was shown I had accomplished great things with grades, with awards, with scholarships, with honor society inductions, but never the word proud, the one word I probably wanted to hear more than anything. That strikes me as so odd looking back. Why is it so hard for us to say to each other?

I can't say I remember hearing the word in my adult life either until the last six months. For all I have been through, for all I have accomplished professionally, can't say I recall hearing it. We tell each other we are doing well as adults with high fives, with raises, with promotions, but the word just seems to be missing. Yet the desire for it is still there.

I have to admit hearing it over and over again in the last few months about my weight loss and life style changes has been one of the happiest parts about it. Knowing that I have finally found that acceptance that the little girl inside of me longed for all those years. I have to admit sometimes it is a double edged sword though. I always seem to pause afterwards and wonder how all the things I have done in my life before havent measured up to weight loss and changing my life. To me this seems so small in comparison to the things I have done in my career, but this has gotten way more attention.

I have an interesting theory on that at this point, and it is still a work in progress. But my new working theory is that, others can't be proud of us until we find a place where we are proud of ourselves. That this is an inside out thing, not the other way around like most of us expect it to be.

I can genuinely say that this is the first point in my life that I feel pride in myself. For all I have accomplished in my career, my life, my philanthropic work this is the first time I have ALLOWED myself to be proud of myself. And I say allowed very purposelly.

I was raised to believe pride in oneself is a bad thing. That it is the opposite of being humble. That it is selfish and bragging and inappropriate. That bring proud of yourself makes you a bad person with an overblown ego. This is another one of those things I am working really hard to unlearn. I am starting to accept that it is healthy to be proud of yourself and the fruits of your labor, that this is not a form of being egotistic and is instead a sign of self respect.

Learning to be proud of myself, and being ok when others tell me they are proud of me lately has been a real growth step. I now take great joy in my friends being happy of my success, and my greatest joy has come in hearing them tell OTHERS what I have accomplished. One of my best memories I am taking away from Israel is my shabbat dinner at Laura and Avi's. For as well as I have gotten to know Laura, Avi still is someone I am trying to get to know. So I was totally shocked when he pointed out to the other dinner guest how much weight I have lost and did it with a great amount of pride. It really made me smile and is something I wont soon forget.

I have to say, my greatest moment of pride yet has been related to the picture at the top of this post. It was part of a birthday card this year from my brother, the one family member I can say I truly love and have our whole lives. He sent me a very simple birthday card but in his note he put how proud of me he was. That meant more to me than any present anyone could send!!!! I am really proud of you too Thom!!!!!


  1. I am proud to know you Pam! :D
    You are a unique person and very special.
    (not the short school bus type either!

  2. The word i heard the most was "asshole." And here, in Israel, it's really coming in handy! I think everyone who has ever tried to get in front of me on line for the bus or at the post office or bank, probably is wondering what this American immigrant is saying, since I often smile at them like a blithering idiot when I say it!
    It makes me feel goos to use such New York, weel, Bronx, street jargon and smile at these people when I tell them to "kiss my ass" or, "you know your mother greets Turkish troop trains?". That makes me very proud to be an American!
    Oh, by the way Pam, I'm very proud of you!

  3. I had a step-parent with that same motto - whatever you did wasn't good enough and worse it was always wrong. Luckily my Dad often said he was very proud of it counteracted the negative effects. LED