Friday, September 23, 2011

I Wish I'd Known

I wish I had known then what I know now. We've all heard that expression. Perhaps we have even used it a time or two ourselves. We often think it would've been nice, if at a younger age we'd had the wisdom we now possess  Would it really have benefited us though? Would we have known what to do with that wisdom? Probably not. There
is just no substitute for life experience. Yes, some people can pack a lot of life experience into a short timeframe, but the years we live have significant meaning. It is not always the hugely wonderful or hugely traumatic things in our lives that affect us the most. It is the day-to-day living that really teaches us about life, about human nature and interaction. There simply is no substitute for the years we live. We cannot live our lives in fast-forward.

Over time, we learn that our feelings and emotions, so easily swept aside in deference to another at 25 starts to wear us down at age 40(something). It is not as easy to push ourselves into the background any more. We have learned some hard lessons over the years through trial and error and one hard-won lesson is simply this - I matter. Not because I am more important than the next person is, but yet because I am just as important.

For no other reason than because we exist, we are each important. Our thoughts, feelings and emotions are all of significance. The trick is to come to this realization without egotism. When we first begin to come into our feelings of self worth, people around us are going to balk. They are used to us yielding to their will most of the time. This can come as quite a shock to some and we may encounter some resistance. This resistance gives us a chance to evaluate whether we are simply being selfish, and putting ourselves first, or if we are exhibiting a health amount of self-esteem.

I really hope to save my daughter from having to learn the hard way how to assert herself. It would be a beautiful thing for her to know herself from the inside out at a very young age. Maybe she will not ever have to have her heart broken into a thousand tiny pieces to learn what she is worth. Perhaps she will not feel the need to go along to get along in her life. I hope that for her on one hand, but on the other, I know that she probably won’t learn very many lessons if she never feels the growing pains of life. I hate that for her. I hate the thought of her having to wrestle with some of the feelings I've had to wrestle with over the years. There is a chance I can save her from some of the painful things, and I will do my best to help her learn those lessons, through my life experience, instead of her own. Self-esteem tempered with humility is the goal I hope to achieve with her.

I sometimes wish that someone had taken me by the hand at 15 or 25 and told me I was beautiful just the way I was. No one ever did that for me at those ages though. That's no one’s fault; it's just how life worked out for me. In retrospect, it is probably for the best. All of that time I spent alone helped me to look inside myself, and find what I needed no just to survive, but also succeed. Self-examination is a good thing. We find within ourselves more than we ever thought we had, certainly more than anyone ever told us we had, and it is what keeps us moving forward.

I hope that I have learned the same lessons I hope to teach my daughter. I earnestly want to model healthy relationship behavior for her. I hope she learns from me that self-esteem equals knowing that I have value and a purpose. Moreover, with self-esteem comes a responsibility, that we temper it with humility, which is knowledge that my worth goes beyond my wants and selfish wishes. Just because I want something does not mean it is for the best. Sometimes the greater good is the best thing for everyone and it takes humility to understand that concept. Yes, self-esteem tempered with humility, that is a good goal for us all, I believe.