I’ve been thinking recently about feeling proud of the things in my life.
More specifically, of the things I have done in my life.
It’s easy to say you’re proud of someone you love, to admire your friend’s accomplishments, or to celebrate your spouse’s degree. But when it comes to admiring ourselves? Celebrating our own accomplishments?
We feel like we’re bragging or arrogant or otherwise unpleasant if we take a moment to say, “I did this thing and I think it’s pretty awesome and I’m proud of myself.”
I’ve struggled with this for years. I 100% internalized those cultural messages that tell girls and women that being too pleased with yourself — even justifiably pleased — automatically makes you a terrible person. That you must wait for someone else to recognize your achievements or positive qualities (recognition which, of course, you must deflect immediately, because just saying “thank you” means you think you deserve it, and what kind of self-absorbed monster are you?)
This is all slightly roundabout, I know. Because the point is this:
I finished writing a book.
Last fall, a rocky time in my life when I was feeling uninspired and unaccomplished and generally down on myself creatively, my perceptive husband asked if I would feel like I had done something when I finished the book I was working on, or if I would only allow myself to feel that way if it led to an agent and a contract and a published work of fiction. It was absolutely the question I needed to be asked, because up until that moment I had been thinking solely in terms of door #2, without ever acknowledging that there was another important door to walk through first.
Because here’s the thing about writing a book: something may happen with it. I hope it does. But something may not. Either way, finishing it should matter to me. Writing a book is the part of this process that solely belongs to the writer. Finishing what I set out to accomplish is a big deal, and if I don’t recognize that, who will?
It’s not really finished, of course. There’s still work to do on it. There are readers to get feedback from, cuts to make, giant plot holes (I am sure) to patch up. Saying “I finished” is never really an accurate statement when it comes to writing.
So here’s a better one:
I wrote a book, from beginning to end. And I’m damn proud of that.
What are you proud of today?