PRIDE – 1. a sense of one’s own dignity or worth. 2. a delight or satisfaction in one’s achievements.
A girl who was in my program years ago called me the other day. She’s doing incredibly well. She has moved from a community college to a state university. She relocated to northern California and has become everything we had hoped for her. Her life is moving in the right direction. The tattoo on her neck that said “FUCK” and her gang symbol have been removed and the scar has faded. All that is left is a little smudge.
I cannot begin to tell you how insanely proud I am of her. This amazing young woman checks in with me from time to time, particularly when things get a little tough. The more she accomplishes, the farther away she gets from her family physically and emotionally, the harder it is for her to come home.
“I don’t feel like anyone is proud of me,” she told me.
“I finished second in my class, but my mom is more excited about my brother getting out of jail. She’s proud of him for getting parole. I don’t understand!!” she said.
Making others proud of us. We need it so badly from other people.
We need others to feel it. We need to hear them say it and we need to see it in their eyes. Isn’t it crazy that sometimes without that we don’t feel accomplished?
When the people close to us are not proud of us, we often lose pride in ourselves.
Last week was the culmination of two groups that finished our Relationships 101 curriculum. This past year the curriculum has been implemented six times by facilitators that I trained. They have taken the curriculum that I created, given it their touch, and done brilliantly.
I watched the final presentation and was so proud of my team.
I felt proud that something I had created could have a life without me.
During the show one of the participants shared something she wrote.
It was raw. It was deep. It was hard for her to read. She didn’t stand up in front of everyone. She read it from her seat.
She choked up. She cried, but she got through it. She moved us all.
The show continued and I quietly went to her from the back of the room, put my arm around her and whispered in her ear,
“I’m so proud of you and what you just did. I hope you feel good about yourself.”
She didn’t say anything. She looked at me and nodded her head with tears streaming down her cheek.
To hear from someone who doesn’t know you say that they’re proud of you is incredibly empowering, because pride is sneaky that way.
It is hard to find pride when other people have taken it away from you.
Pride, we tell people to have it.
God knows, I tell participants so many times in the program
“Say it loud! Say it proud!”
That is so much easier said than done.
We need to make space for pride to breathe.
We need to make space to let pride be present.
As I watched my two marvelous facilitators lead what I have done so many times, I was humbled and proud. I was proud of them, proud of the curriculum I created, and proud of the 25 girls who stepped into the light that day even if it was just for a brief moment.
“You know,” I told my college girl on the phone.
“Six years ago you were locked up. You got out. You cleaned yourself up. You went to community college and then to a state university. Now, oh my God, now you are second in your class. You kick ass.
Do you hear me? You have come so far. You kick ass.
Don’t wait for your mom to be proud of you, Sweet Girl, tell her to be proud of you. Explain to her. Tell her how great you are doing. Do you hear what I am saying to you?”
It was quiet.
“How do I tell her?” she asks.
“Ah… with your mouth? “I say.
She laughs and adds, “Ha, ha! Very funny!
Can you tell her?” she asks me.
“No, Sweetheart, you have to tell her.”
“You know she didn’t go to college. She doesn’t understand,” she says.
“I know,” I answer.
A while ago I had to go talk to her mom when she got a full scholarship to the school up north. The mom was devastated that she was leaving.
It made life harder for this woman who relied on her girl so much.
Life was already so hard. Her daughter’s leaving didn’t help.
It has been a while since that conversation.
This girl has changed dramatically.
Moving forward was not easy.
Moving away was not easy.
Being proud has not been easy.
“I know you want them to be proud of you,” I tell her.
“But if they don’t give you that, it doesn’t change how amazingly well you are doing.”
Pride. We need to be careful not to let the things we are most proud of lose their importance when the people we care about don’t see it.
“Are you happy?” I ask her.
“So much,” she says.
“Are you doing what you want?”
“Yes! This is my dream,” she answers.
“Then, that’s enough,” I say.
“You know your Mom loves you. Right?”
“Yes,” she says.
The truth is I LOVE her mom, a simple, beautiful hard-working woman raising 7 children on her own. This one is her third. The oldest has been in jail for years. This one is changing everything for everyone.
“I know she is proud,” I say. “Maybe she is also scared. I know that she doesn’t understand all of this.”
“You know, once she said I could go, she told me to go chase my dream. I think she is happy for me,” my girl tells me.
“I know she is happy for you,” I say. “She is also happy for herself and for your siblings.”
“Then why doesn’t she show it?”
“Maybe she can’t,” I say.
“That’s fucked up!”
“Yup,” I say. “It is. But it is what it is, and you know something? That’s okay.”
“Be proud of yourself and know I am so proud of you!”
“Well,” she laughs.
“You are like ten people put together.”
“I am,” I say.
“Are you going to write about this in your blog?”
“You bet,” I say. “And then you are going to have a lot more people proud of you and you are going to inspire them to be the best they can be.
I know that isn’t like your mom, Honey, but it sure ain’t nothing,” I add.
“How many people read that blog of yours?” she asks.
I exaggerate a bit, to make her feel good and say, “A lot!”
“And they will all read about me?”
“But you know what is more important? Next Wednesday you will go on Facebook. YOU will read it and you will know it’s you.”
And then she says, “I’m proud of YOU.”
“Really?” I say.
“Yes, you write that blog every week and you think a ton of
people really read it!”
We laugh really hard together.
“It’s going to be okay.”
“I know,” she says and adds, “It hurts.”
“I know,” I say. “Sometimes that’s just the way it is.”
“I get it,” she says.
“I know,” I add.
And then she tells me about the cute boy she met in her engineering class…and I am so, so damn filled with pride.