Saturday, July 04, 2009

Saturday Morning Musings - five things that I am proud of

Another Saturday morning. We have to go house hunting. I told the girls after I got back from Canada that we had to move because the owner wanted to move back into the house. We hadn't said anything before because of Uni exams. Not happy Jan is the best description of their response, but they have settled down to help look. Eldest has in fact taken over.

In June in A sunday meme - five things I am proud of I listed my family first. I do not know where Helen got her sense of responsibility from, but it is quite marked.

I found the responses to my challenge to others to list things that that they were proud of very interesting. I wrote the post in the first place because of an incident that got me thinking not about the things that I had achieved over my life, but about the personal things that I took pride in.

The two are not the same, far from it. Some of the things that I am most proud of are in fact linked to things that would be seen as defeats in career terms. Focusing just on achievements can lead to depression, making us conscious in fact of our failures. Yet every person I know has things that they can be proud of.

Kanani responded first with Wednesday Meme: 5 Things I'm Proud Of. Like me she, she listed family first. Then came the ability to change. Now I wouldn't have thought of this one, but the capacity to move in a new direction is indeed something to be proud of. Then came helping others with professional development (something on my list too), followed by writing, another item on my list.

Neil responded next if with some diffidence in Meme: 5 things I’m proud of. He then followed this with More on things I’m proud of…. And indeed Neil does have many things that he can be proud of.

Neil started with the 1988 Bicentenary of Australia because in some ways it marked the start of his interest and involvement in Aboriginal issues. I would love to have seen the Mornington Island man use a woomera to launch a spear the full length of a football field.

For the benefit of international readers, a woomera is a shaped piece of wood. The spear fits in at one end, and can then be launched a much greater distance than would be possible throwing it like a javelin. The woomera was also a multi-purpose tool. As shaped, it could be used as a digging stick, as a palette for mixing colours, as a plate. I tried to find an illustration on-line, but for some reason google is presently down.

Neil also referred, among other things, to the launch of Neos, the young writers' magazine as well as the ESL blog.

One of the reasons I asked Neil beyond curiosity (I do suffer from insatiable curiosity) is that his career as an educator is in many ways quite remarkable. I am using the word educator here rather than teacher because it better captures the range of Neil's activities. I won't give away Neil's age, but he has continued doing new things that will help others over a very long period.

I was very glad that Neil included a speech of his in More on things I’m proud of…. I thought that it really captured the man I have come to know through blogging.

One of the difficulties we all face as we grow older, certainly I do, is the way in which shortening time horizons start to constrain actions and goals. Then, too, the barnacles of time drag more heavily. In my case this lead to a deep depression that I had to make my way through. The clue is to go on, to keep contributing. Neil has done that, although it can be hard at times.

I leave it to you to read Neil's posts. Do click through to the Neos links.

In her post Kanani nominated Angry Parsnip to follow up. AP wrote what I thought was a quite wonderful response. I leave it to you to read I've been "meme". In Five things Bette also responded to Kanani's invitation, this time with a different and interesting approach.

I thought that Tikno's post, Five things I am proud of, was great. One of the reasons I asked people from several countries to nominate things that they were proud of was to get a cross-cultural perspective. I thought that the similarities would be as interesting as the differences. When you look at the human condition, core things like family are the same. Yet there are also differences.

Finally, in Things that make me proud Legal Eagle said that she was not going to write a list! Instead she wrote in part:

The main thing in life that makes me proud is family: my children, my husband, my sister, my parents, my extended family and in-laws. I also love to see other people achieve their best, whether they are family, friends or students.

Personally, I get much joy and pride from my art, cooking a good meal for my family, writing a good blog post and solving a really hard cryptic crossword. As far as academic achievement goes, unfortunately I suffer from “Imposter Syndrome” - I wish I could feel proud, but I am plagued by a constant suspicion that I am an imposter. Most vexing. Every now and again I get an idea where I think, yes, that really was a good one!

It’s interesting to consider what I would have put in this post if I had been writing it 10 years ago. At that time, I certainly would not have envisaged that I would be a wife and a mother of two. I suspect I would have listed academic achievements as the main personal achievements of which I was proud. I doubt I would have even contemplated the possibility that being a mother is my proudest achievement.

I married late. When I did I had no comprehension of just how important my children would be to me, of the joy that they would bring. Like LE, had I written my list before my marriage and children it would have been very different.

Again like LE, I suffer from the imposter syndrome. I know that this is silly, I am not dumb, but it remains true!

LE goes on to explore questions of balance between parenthood and other aspirations.

Just to finish these musings, the point about things that we are are all proud of, and the reason I started this meme, is that pride is personal. By contrast, achievement is external.

Measured in achievement terms, I have failed more often than I have succeeded. By contrast, the things that I am most proud of are different, purely personal. Most human beings have things that they are rightly proud of. Life might be better for all of us if we focused on this.

Just to finish with a specific example.

This week at the training course for the Aboriginal mentor/mentorees, I listened to Alison explaining her problems with the goal setting approach being outlined. The goal setting approach was personal, individual, whereas Alison's approach was driven by her contribution to her community. This dictated what she did. She had tried to pull back, to say that it was time for others to act, but the community wanted her.

Alison's strengths are not immediately obvious. As I learned more, I thought what a wonderful women. I checked this when I went back to work. She is quite remarkable.

The Aboriginal mentor program is designed to help people in career, conventional achievement, terms. This is important. Yet to my mind, Alison has more to be proud of than I do. She really is remarkable, and I don't think she sees it.


I realised after posting that I had managed to miss three paras on Kanani's post. You will find the post here.


Legal Eagle said...

Jim, I am also thinking of a post about pride generally, and what kinds of pride there are. Your post will be a fantastic resource in that regard, because it seems we have been thinking along similar lines.

Neil said...

** blushes **

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi LE. Pride is, of course, one of the seven deadly sins and perhaps rightly so. However, the idea of being proud of something that you have done is a very different thing. Big P small p I guess!

Neil, I like the vision of a blushing N.

angryparsnip said...

Jim. . .

I followed Kanani over to your blog and thanks for the kind words.
I am not a writer I use paint and paper instead. It was an interesting challenge to write about oneself a bit strange but interesting using words instead of color.

Cheers, parsnip

Jim Belshaw said...

HI AP. Always good to try something new, although use of paint and paper is far beyond my own skills!