| Angie Counios

Our greatest fear

Dave asked me to read his post Embracing the Monotonous Schedule. While it’s typical to proofread each other’s posts, he asked on this one whether "it was full of itself?"

I wasn’t sure what he meant so I checked with him after I had read it. He said he didn’t want to sound full of himself. He didn’t want the post to be about how much he gets done, or to sound preachy, arrogant or boastful.

I thought, "so what if it is?"

This guy, my writing partner, gets a lot done on any given day and grapples laziness because we all have it in us. He doesn’t want laziness to win. I get it.

The part that I paused on was the brag part.

What I'm understanding very slowly is that there is a difference between being proud of one’s accomplishments and being arrogant. In his post, Dave offers advice based on his experience. Nothing braggy about that. Just some good information in case a person would like to try what he does to get more accomplished.

So, what makes us hesitate to sing our own praises?

It starts way back

As a teacher of the creative arts I have seen this. Actually, I can say that I spend most of my time unsmooshing what was an awesome creative human ten years ago. Kids make great work in my class and often finish their piece with a slap in the creative face by saying ‘it’s not very good’ or ‘it kinda sucks’. I joke and tell them that it’s my job to criticize their work, not theirs and that they should love it for just creating it. The sad truth is that they aren’t allowed to say “Hey, look at that great thing I just made. I’m so proud" because that's considered boastful.

An entire culture has been built up of being quiet about our awesomeness and it’s heartbreaking.

When I realized I was doing it to myself

An interior designer was looking through my portfolio. I started feeling uncomfortable, nervous she wouldn’t like the art so to beat her to the punch, I started criticizing my work before she had a chance to. She looked up from the work and said, “Angie, would someone buy "not very well done" art or would they buy amazing, beautiful pieces?” I understood what she was saying. I nodded silently and let her continue looking. She was right. My art was good but I didn’t want to come across as a bragger.

I was also tethered to the fear of inadequacy.

I realized that if I loved what I created, it was worth something for that reason alone. No matter what I did, as long it was with good intention, I should be proud of it. And that is different than being arrogant.

A great quote

Nelson Mandela used Marianne Williamson’s words from her book Return to Love in his 1994 Inaugural Address:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children to. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Looking back at my drawings and paintings, I'm often surprised by how much I do love them. I am very proud of every script we've written and I love our latest book. I'm not bragging—I'm proud of my efforts. I work full time at another job and hammer away at this writing life after I punch the clock. I know what it takes to get it all done. I'm not apologizing for it and if someone interprets some of this as me being full of myself (or Dave), that's their issue.

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