“If we truly want to learn, we never learn when we are talking. We only learn when we are listening.”~ James Altucher, Choose Yourself
My mother enrolled me in a summer theatre class when I was 9 years old. We were poor, but my mom knew I needed to build confidence as I was an extremely shy child.
Every day, we would take the train. She would go down to her office stop and I will continue the commute the rest of the way. There were about 30 in the class and everybody spoke English. See, I was Valedictorian in my class, but I was not confident enough in that language. But I tried to make friends, nonetheless.
I made one. Her name was Chrystal. Come recital time, our teacher asked us to write a story. The best one will be used for our play.
I was so excited! I worked on it everyday at my mom’s office. I used their office typewriter as I wait for her to finish work and go home. I typed on scratch papers, so we do not have to use office supplies.
I wrote about a black cat.
You see, black cats are vilified in the Philippines. So, I created a world four kids rescued their friends from a black cat’s jungle. It had a happy ending where the black cat apparently was just a misunderstood creature.
And it was chosen! My teacher chose my story, changed it up a bit and that was our recital play. I was not picked for the cast though. I was not good enough. He gave me a spot to welcome the guests, kind of like the host, which was fine by me because we did not have to spend for costumes.
But I remember that it hurt.
Fast forward to seven years after, my first year in college. I took up Broadcast Communication and one of our first projects was a radio drama. I immediately thought of my play. In the Jungles of the Black Cat, with all the magical creatures in it would make a good radio drama. And when I finished it, my classmates were laughing. They found it silly and childish. What used to be a source of pride became a source of embarrassment.
That story never again saw the light of day.
What It Means to Choose Yourself and Why It’s So Important to Always Do It
As I matured, I realized that the value I give myself was based on what others thought of me. If I was chosen, passed over, accepted, or laughed at. I adopted the labels other people put on me. That is why I tried so hard to belong.
Many times, this feeling of not being good enough has stolen dreams and ambitions. It has taken away friendships, broken relationships. Because our value as a person was determined by other people. And because they can change their mind about you, so your value fluctuates.
One day they are friends with you so they can copy from your notes, the next day they act like total strangers.
I needed to be chosen to feel valued. To feel meaningful.
I decided I could not live like that forever so here are ways on how I managed this rise and fall, up and down feeling of not being good enough:
I went through college and early part of adulthood pursuing people. I pursued society’s expectations. I pursued guys! I pursued what my family needed me to be.
Now, I pursue me. I court me. I give myself flowers. I love me.
You Are a 10.
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, when we are asked to rate our family and our faith, we probably will give them a 10. But when we rate ourselves, we give ourselves a lower score.
Why is that?
We must believe that we are a 10, not because of what we are, what we have accomplished, who we became, but because that is what we were born to be. It is innate in us. We are not less valuable than any other human being in the world.
Choose Yourself, Always!
I listened to a TEDx talk the other day that touched this topic, and this resonated so much.
I used to envy my husband with the way he introduces himself. When asked what he does, he would simply say “a teacher”. And it encompasses his work, his advocacy, his passion. It was not attached to a school or an executive title, but you will learn so much about him from a single word.
I used to describe myself with my title, followed by where I worked. And that was dangerous because when I lost my job, I lost my identity. I now introduce myself as a Storyteller, Trainer and Marketer.
Still a work in progress, but they are words that describe me for who I truly am.
Like the black cat in my story, we take on what society thinks of. We unconsciously take on the value it gives us. Society vilifies or edifies. You are either brilliant or clueless. Either successful or a has-been.
That shy, 9-year-old little girl was so hard on herself, even more so when she was 16 and being laughed at. But the 41-year-old me has learned to choose me. I know my worth. I am a 10.
And I will always choose me.
To choose yourself should always be your number one priority and if there’s anything I would want you to take from my story, that’s what it is.
Choose yourself, always!