When it’s okay to be proud

Society sends us a lot of mixed messages about how to approach self-worth. Your mom tells you she is proud of you no matter what; your best friend says you are a loser but does not mean it; and the cheesy internet photo of a sunset with pretty lettering says to always remember you are a shining star, too. At the same time, you are not supposed to boast about yourself or people will not like you. Do not celebrate your successes because then you will seem self-centered. If you win something crazy or do something awesome, that can be recognized when it happens, but otherwise try to be a normal person and do not be too happy about yourself.

These ideas come from many well-intentioned places, and in the right circumstances most of them do apply to something. But the way we try to make sense of so many different messages often results in an attitude of self-deprecation. “I’m not that good at anything,” we say to ourselves, and we refuse to take compliments from people who disagree. “I’d better not be too happy about this or I’ll jinx my future chances,” we tell ourselves when something great happens. Oddly enough, these thoughts all seem to make sense when we are thinking them. If we step back a bit, though, they do not do much for us.

First of all, why tear yourself down unnecessarily? Neither you nor the rest of the universe is going to get along any better if you tell yourself you do not have skills or talents. Of course, don’t go around boasting all the time, but do work hard at things you are good at. Appreciate yourself. Do not squash the things you are proud of down inside.

Secondly, “saving up happiness” is not a thing. Well, maybe it is a little bit of a thing if you can remember particularly fun or wonderful memories and enjoy the moments they bring back to you. But the idea that being less happy at a big success will impact your chances of future success is just silly. Did you get those grades you wanted? Sweet, be proud of you! Did you get that job for the summer? Awesome, way to go! Did you paint something really amazing? Wow, excellent job! Did you finally make a connection with that person you have been hoping to meet? Yes, you get the idea by now!

Whatever your goals in life may be, either day-to-day or on a large scale, celebrate when you meet them. It is okay to do something well and know it. Take those compliments if you deserve them—say thank you and be gracious about it, obviously, but take them! Be excited when you get that solo, ace that test or make a new best time.

Being proud and being prideful can sometimes mean two different things. Please do not be a prideful person. But please do be proud and happy when you accomplish something great. You have been given a number of skills and talents, and when your use of them turns out well, get pumped. You did it!