I recently finished reading “Girl Stop Apologizing” by Rachel Hollis. The title of this book intrigued me at first because I am ALWAYS apologizing. Whether it be for taking up someone’s time, inconveniencing them, sharing bad news, or asking a difficult question. But, to my surprise, the book doesn’t focus on directly apologizing, but a more indirect form of apologizing – limiting yourself by putting others first and defining yourself in the eyes of others. I now realize that I often unintentionally define myself in light of other people – as a colleague, employee, friend, etc. putting my own goals on the back burner in an effort to help others, and sometimes forgetting about them altogether. I feel bad if my goal, or the steps to get there, inconvenience others which can limit my growth and inhibits me from being be successful at times. It also makes it difficult to remember what makes ME special when I’m constantly putting myself last and seeing myself through the perspective of others. This isn’t an easy concept for me, because like many of us it gets engrained over time, almost to a point where you don’t even realize you are thinking this way. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around because I’ve always valued helping others, it’s one of my core values. I was taught the importance of putting others before myself at a young age but I’m now realizing that it is crucial to find the right balance into order to not put my own growth in jeopardy.
I think back to University as this was a time of significant change and I was forced outside of my comfort zone on a daily basis. During this time I would often turn down an opportunity for fear of failure thinking if I didn’t try, I wouldn’t fail and therefore avoid embarrassment and negative opinion from others. Part of the issue was that I have extremely high expectations for myself and, at the time, I didn’t see failure as a growth opportunity. I saw failure as losing, and I don’t like to lose so I coasted to avoid embarrassment. At that point I saw my education as a means to an end, my main focus was completing my degree so I could “start the rest of my life” – whatever that means… Although I successfully completed my degree and experienced a significant amount of growth throughout the process, I didn’t realize the connection between growth and failure.
I now realize, largely due to my work experience, personal growth, and involvement with SYL, that it’s important to take the risks and get uncomfortable. Although I still fall victim from time to time, I need to stop making excuses that get in the way of achieving my goals. Sometimes it’s hard to listen to yourself and not believe our own excuses, which is why it’s important to take time to evaluate what’s getting in my way and what i have to gain. People are allowed to make mistakes, and in order to grow, you need to learn from those mistakes and move forward. Everyone is going to have an opinion on what you do, but the only opinion that matters is your own. If what you’re doing is driven by your values and goals, that’s all that should matter. The only thing you’ll regret in the end is not taking advantage of the opportunities in front of you to achieve your dreams.
– Lauren Loehndorf