Accept Who You Are Today, Not the One You’ll Be Someday
Updated: Aug 29
Driving my kids to cross country practice this morning we listened to the radio. The DJ asked, “Who did you go to school with that did something really special?” He kept emphasizing the “something really special” part, and 100% of the callers talked about prominent actors they had gone to school with. “Something Really Special” was code for famous celebrity in most listeners' minds.
Photo by Guan Yoanda
Flashback to my conversation last night with my 16-year-old daughter Jaden. It was late Sunday night. I reminded Jaden that we would leave promptly at 6:30 am for practice on Monday and that if she were late, she would have to figure out how to get to school on her own because it wouldn’t be fair for Jaron, my youngest, to be late to practice because of her. Time management is Jaden’s Achilles heel. I also brought up a few other frustrations I had with her last week and I guess my tone given the time of night was frustrated. With the strength of character Jaden possesses, she looked me dead in the eye and said, “You only talk about all the bad stuff I do. What about all the good I do? Why don’t you ever talk about that? What’s the point if you only focus on the bad?”
I looked at her stunned and I wasn’t sure if I would handle her comment with grace and respect or if my ego would quickly lash out with some defensive garbage. Fortunately, I took the time to reflect before speaking, and she was right. This girl is an amazing, straight A student, a varsity cross-country and track athlete, a kind and loving soul that truly cares about people and shows up for others. And I don’t usually tell her how great she is. I don’t acknowledge all the things she does right in her day and usually focus and bring up the things she doesn’t do well and need work.
I was behaving like my mother and her mother, and most mothers and most people all over the world. We are quick to point out flaws and judge others and ourselves harshly when things don’t go right. We neglect to commend ourselves for all the things that do go right. If you look at your life, my guess is that most of you do way more “right” than “wrong” in your everyday lives. I bet that you probably got your kids dressed, fed, and to school today, and that you probably got yourself to work. You’ll probably come home after a full day, pick up groceries, run errands, pick up the kids, and head home to make dinner. You will probably ask your kids about their day at school, check homework, schedule their after-school activities and try to schedule family time for the weekend. You will do all this and not give yourself any credit for any of it. You will focus on the things that went “wrong” in your day and try and figure out how you can be a better version of you the next day because today’s you just wasn’t good enough.
And guess what, today’s you will never be good enough in your mind!
What does this have to do with the radio DJ’s morning question? I would like to propose the idea that we are all shamed by society, our parents, our families, and friends into defining success as this grandiose, unachievable (for most of us), measurement that involves all or some of the following: lots of money, fame, and celebrity. We value money and celebrity to the point that we neglect the real, true magnificence of our own beings. This is not a criticism of celebrities or the rich, but rather a commentary that I hope will urge you to see all of the amazing contributions you make to your family, your job, your community on a day-to-day basis.
Your actions are more worthy and valuable to those you love and care for than money and fame will ever be. You are the SOMETHING REALLY SPECIAL! You don’t need fame and fortune to be magical. Accept Who You Are Today. Love who you are today. Setting future goals is important but waiting to celebrate a future you that is not here yet is a self-defeating and personally abusive. Celebrate the amazing person you are right now, and verbalize appreciation and gratitude for your kids, husband, family, and friends. The something really special we all need to aim for is kindness, compassion, and love for ourselves and others.
Tonight, when you are finally in bed after a long day, think about how special you are. Give thanks for the person you are today, the person that showed up for the people they love even when it was hard.