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Appreciate your own work

Are you proud of yourself? When was the last time that you allowed yourself a moment to appreciate the work that you do? And by “work,” I don’t just mean academics. Being proud of yourself is something that I have been thinking a lot about lately. As graduation grows ever closer, I have reflected a lot on the choices that I have made here at Wooster, and all of the work that I have done with regard to my academics, my social life, my physical health and the health and well-being of the Wooster community itself. When I was growing up my mother always told me, “do the best that you can.” I think about this phrase a lot. It implies that your best is enough, and that it is something to be proud of. At the same time, it does not suggest that you cannot do better. So how do we balance being proud of ourselves and our actions with the very important drive to be better?

I don’t have an answer that will work for everybody. My attempt at balancing these elements is going to be different than the way that you do it, or the way that your favorite professor does it. For me, there is a process involved. For a long time I tried to be better more than I tried to be proud. I didn’t want to be proud; where will that ever get me? Now that I have tried to appreciate the level of energy and devotion that I put into my actions and into my own body, I have realized that I am a whole lot more productive at being better once I have allowed myself to be proud. Being proud isn’t about bragging. It certainly isn’t about making comparisons (again, remember: “do the best that you can.”). Rather, being proud requires that we reflect on what we have done, and the impacts of our positive actions on the community(ies) we live in, on our friends and family and on ourselves. Being proud means that we are accountable for our actions because we pay closer attention to what it is that we are doing and have done. Being proud leads to being better because we know where we have been, where we are and where we want to be. We know the steps that we have taken and the mistakes that we have made, and can move forward with this knowledge.

And as I said before, it is a process. We don’t wake up one day and suddenly stop comparing ourselves to other people. We don’t suddenly begin to recognize the wonderful things that we do each and everyday, especially the small things. We don’t spontaneously know how to become better in those areas we desire to improve in. If I would have had this mindset earlier on in my college career, I know that it would have been easier to recognize my strengths, improve upon my weaknesses and generally have a greater sense of myself. It would have undoubtedly helped to lessen my anxiety and stress levels. However, we are all working on ourselves and on the world. Give yourself permission to be proud of the important work that you do!

Myra Praml, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at MPraml19@wooster.edu.

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