The Power of Proud

Do you ever sit down and think about the power of proud?  The importance of not only achieving things that make other people proud, but also being proud of yourself?  Oddly enough, for as much as we crave for others to be proud of us, it is even more challenging to be proud of ourselves.  It’s almost as if our own state of proud relies heavily on whether or not someone else is satisfied with our accomplishments.  It is only in those moments that we achieve the fulfillment.

I’ve recently been re-watching The Office.  I came across an episode in which Pam, who is “just the office secretary” decides to showcase some of her artwork at her very first school art show.  I relate very much to Pam, in that, I am kind of bad at not only believing in myself, but also taking compliments, or believing them whenever they come from other people.  That’s what makes showcasing talents, such as sharing writing, so hard.  Even in the moments that I feel proud of my work, it’s hard for me to believe that someone else is too. Or that maybe my talents are not comparable to others.  Anyway, back to Pam.  So, here she is at her art show, a show that she has invited many of her coworkers and friends to attend.  As she is looking around, she notices that most of her classmates are talking to people, showing their work off, receiving compliments, and altogether living in the moment of proud.  Yet, she is standing alone, staring quietly at her own work, wondering if it is good enough.  She is finally thrilled when looking up to spot her boyfriend walking towards her, but, her excitement is quickly deflated when he takes a quick look and then exits, with no real encouragement, or even a pat on the back.  Things only get worse when she overhears Oscar and a friend talking very negatively, even using the term “uninspiring” to describe her work.  In these moments, Pam is as far from living in that proud moment as a person could be.  She is feeling defeated, and automatically assumes that she should just give up art all together.

But then, something happens.

Michael Scott enters the room.  And, if you’re a fan of The Office, you know that he might be the last person you expect to be serious enough to truly inspire.  Yet, he looks at Pam’s artwork in a state of awe.  “You did this?”  He asks her.  “Wow!” he exclaims.  “This is incredible.”  Pam smiles, nearly tearing up, looking at Michael.  “How much?”  He adds, wanting to buy a piece of her work.  Pam is shocked, thrown off even.  “You want to buy a piece of my art?”  Everything changes.  The camera fades out, showing Pam glowing, looking truly accomplished.  Proud of herself.

That is the power of proud.  Despite the negativity that surrounded the night, that moment of Michael being proud truly inspired Pam to not give up on her dream.  I can’t explain it, but, it is so hard for us to tell people that we are proud of them.  Perhaps it is that we are afraid of how they will respond, or that we may sound silly for overusing the statement, “I am proud of you.”   I think it may be one of the most important sentences that we encounter in our lives.  Do you remember being little and just wanting your parents, teachers, loved ones to be proud of you?  I can remember the hanger in mouth smile that would cross my face if my parents told me they were proud.  Yet now, when someone tells me they are proud, I almost feel embarrassed, like I shouldn’t show my excitement.  A short “thank you” and a blush tends to be my response.  But, why?  I think that circles back around to the being proud of ourselves struggle.

We need to learn to stand tall in our accomplishments, to be truly happy no matter how small they may seem.  If I share a story that only inspires five people, three people, one person…that is still a story worth telling.  I’ve read some interesting stuff lately about things such as blogs, podcasts, newspapers, websites, etc.., not being beneficial if they don’t get that crowd reach.  Of course, the ultimate goal is to reach as many listeners/viewers/readers as possible when starting such a journey.  But, should we quit if we don’t get that response?  Should we lose the proud because we aren’t reaching hundreds or thousands?  I don’t think so.  Unfortunately, everything seems to be measured only by numbers.  Even our social media…especially that.  We are constantly checking to see how many likes we have, and if it’s not enough, we are not enough.

How do we measure proud?  How should we?  I think we’ll all have our own answers, but, one thing we should agree on is the power of sharing the words “I am proud of you.”  Whether that be to our loved ones, or looking in the mirror.  I don’t think we truly realize the impact those five words can have.    We need to pay attention to those around us, notice what makes them feel proud.  We all have different areas in our life that need encouragement.  Something insignificant to us can be so big to someone else.  The power of proud comes in to play when we pay attention to each other.   We need more of that.

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