I don’t think we realize sometimes the ways in which we cut ourselves down and then believe that this cut-down version is who we truly are.
The other day I did something I often do: I read an autobiography of someone successful that I admire. In this particular book, the author writes about a failure she experienced in her life. It was relatable to me so I was very aware of my emotions while reading her story. I was somewhat expecting this “awful failure” to be not really that awful… but it was! She really failed in a particular moment in time. It was visible. It was embarrassing. Other people knew it was bad. As I read the story and related to her embarrassment, I also found myself thinking something new — that this is not “who she was”; this had just been a bad night!
In my life, I’ve often let my embarrassing moments and bad nights shape my core beliefs about myself. I am not a good dancer because of that one bad performance. I am not worthy to be here because I got hurt. I am not beautiful because of that flaw. I’ve believed these things long after the pain of the particular experience is over. In fact, even a decade after I stopped dancing, I would often bring up my “bad performance” in conversation, and feel as if that experience was the true me and my true reality as a dancer and performer. It wasn’t. That was just a bad day and a tough show.
I don’t look at others and judge them for their worst moments.
…Or do I? I know there have been times when I’ve looked at my mom and have believed that her true self is the part that comes out in a borderline rage. But that’s not true; it’s her worst self that comes out at that time. Her illness takes over at that point.
We are not the sum of our bad moments. We are so much more. What if we started focusing, with ourselves and others, on our best qualities and moments?
As Taylor Swift says at the end of “Daylight,”
“I want to be defined by the things that I love — not the things I hate, not the things I’m afraid of, not the things that haunt me in the middle of the night … I just think that… we are what we love.”
We are not our worst moment or our worst decision.
How about you? Have you defined yourself by your worst moment? Can you let that go now, and define yourself by something else?