Are YOU awesome?

Posted on May 26, 2010 in Featured | 8 comments

I’ve lost track of the numbers of people I’ve met who have no real sense of what their individual talents and passions are.

~ Sir Ken Robinson

Earlier this month, I lamented my inability to write a bio. Being between projects makes it difficult, but so does being the mom of young children. With all our focus on the needs of other people in the household we may find that we don’t know ourselves very well anymore. The time away from work also messes with our identity a little, especially if we begin to reassess our goals, dreams and values in light of our new roles as parents. The longer we are away from the workplace, the more we begin to notice that our society tends to define people by what we do and what we are good at. And if you spend the majority of your time conversing with preschoolers and wiping noses and bums, it’s easy to lose your grip on what your other talents may be.

But perhaps the problem runs deeper. Perhaps it wasn’t just born out of motherhood? I have a sneaking suspicion that even before I had children, I was easily counted in the numbers of people who have no real sense of what their individual talents are.

This got me wondering why so many of us don’t know what makes us awesome. Why is it so hard for us to answer these questions: What makes me awesome? What makes me feel awesome? What are my awesome skills?

Do you know who you are?

You know, like nunchuck skills, bowhunting skills, computer hacking skills... Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills. ~ Napoleon Dynamite

One of the reasons is that some of us might not know ourselves very well to begin with. As young people, we can take for granted who we are. In our teen years, we may be trying on personas but it comes closer to experimentation that to genuine self-knowledge. Twenty-somethings can get caught up accomplishing things: checking off relationships, marriage, house-buying, career-building, and having children on that inner to-do list. We might never really take a moment to think deeper about who we are or why we are awesome long enough to actually believe we are awesome.

It’s not such a surprise then that this issue still dogs us post-motherhood. Perhaps we’re just more aware that it IS an issue once we have children? Perhaps it’s the first time we’re old enough to think about it seriously?

Furthermore, how many of us really make a point of nourishing our relationship with ourselves? Of being our own best friend? If we treated our friends the way we treat ourselves – only hanging out once every six months – it wouldn’t be long before our friends would stop talking to us too. Dr. Daniel Siegel talks about the ways in which meditation and mindfulness activate the same parts of our brains as do attached interpersonal relationships and he goes on to say that these practices are very like becoming our own best friend.

Perhaps spending time getting to know ourselves is the first step to discovering our innate awesomeness?

But even then, we may still struggle with self-appraisal, with figuring out what makes us unique.

Have you found your thing?

In his new book The Element, Sir Ken Robinson explains that successful people find themselves in their element. The element is the intersection between what you are good at (your talents) and what you love (your passion). Some of us are good at things that we don’t really enjoy but true success is found when we discover our element. Furthermore, the element also requires that you have the right attitude (a willingness to go for it) and the opportunity. This part seemed really key to me. Your element could very well be surfing but if you live in the desert, you may never find that out. You need both the opportunity and willingness to try surfing if you are ever to discover that it’s your awesome thing.

So, by now, maybe you believe that you are awesome at something but you haven’t yet figured out what that thing is. Want to discover what makes you awesome?

It seems to me that if you do, you need to:

  1. Nourish a relationship with yourself in the same way you would with a life-long friend
  2. Do more of the things that make you feel good (and don’t feel guilty about it)
  3. Be willing to try new things
  4. Change your attitude

Do you give yourself credit?

My husband is awesome at firespinning.

My husband is awesome at firespinning.

This last one – change your attitude – needs a bit of explaining. We probably already know what our talents are but we undervalue them or take them for granted because they are our own. It’s always easier to be in awe of people who can do things we can’t. It’s much harder to be reverent of our own abilities. This may be because we don’t consider ourselves expert enough to be awesome. After all, we’ve all heard that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert and we fail to acknowledge the awesomeness in the mere 4,500 hours we may have put in to become pretty great.

We also come from a culture where for a variety of reasons it isn’t easy to toot our own horn. This month the Natural Parenting Carnival topic was on ways we may have inspired others with our parenting and it was amazing to see how difficult it is for most of us to publicly proclaim that we’re pretty good at parenting. In fact, one of the carnival posts Say Something Good actually addressed the reasons why we might find it hard to say we’re awesome out loud.

So where do we start? Maybe we start with a mindfulness practice. Maybe we start by reading this blog 1000 Awesome Things which recognizes the awesome in all kinds of every day things. Maybe we start by taking pleasure in the moment, in all of the little things that make us feel awesome…and when we are more aware of the awesomeness that is all around us all the time, we’ll be ready and tuned in to notice the awesomeness that is in us and always has been.

How about you? Are you awesome? Tell us what your skills are – like nunchucks.

8 Comments

  1. I’ve heard Sir Ken. He is truly inspiring. I love what he said about “being in your element.” So often in my working life, I felt the total opposite and beat that feeling so deep that it manifested itself in body pain, allergies, malaise and general irritation at pretty much everything.

    I’m on the cusp of having to select between two options for work both of which feel a little “not quite right.” And every single day, I brew over these possibilities. They have thrown me into deplorable funk.

    None of what I’ve just said is about awesomeness! But I do think your detailed, researched and thoughtful post is AWESOME!
    .-= Harriet´s last blog ..My Big Fat Multiracial Family =-.

    • Will you be blogging about this decision Harriet? I hope you make the choice that will make you feel awesome.

  2. This is a truly awesome guide to being awesome. I love it! :)

    As for me, I think I’m sort of awesome at sky-diving. I’ll have to try it once to know for sure, though. ;)
    .-= Amber´s last blog ..My Baby, My Child =-.
    Twitter:

    • You’re also the awesomest commenter I’ve ever seen.

  3. I was thinking about identity last night. I was watching Star Portraits, and the star being painted was Ashley MacIsaac. As he looked at the portraits, he noted that each one exhibited different aspects of his personality, different facets of his identity both as a man and as a performer. He seemed to have a well-established sense of self, and I thought “Do I?” And I don’t know that I really do. I have a fairly good sense of what I like, but that is far from being the same as what I am. It’s something I need to work on.

    For now, though, I think I am awesome at learning, at inquiring. It’s something I really enjoy, and something I think I do well. I am good at considering things, doing my research, and gaining insight. I’m no genius, but I feel that I learn well. That’s got to be pretty awesome!
    .-= darlene´s last blog ..2 =-.

    • “I have a fairly good sense of what I like, but that is far from being the same as what I am. It’s something I need to work on.”

      Good point. Me too.

  4. This is such a great post. It really gets you thinking.
    It is funny, when I am wearing my “work hat,” I feel like I am in my element. I am a teacher. I love working with kids and literacy. I especially love teaching kids to love school, to read and write. I feel like I am pretty good at my job, so most days I feel pretty awesome.
    But in my personal life, I never feel quite good enough. I feel like I am not fit enough, thin enough or a good enough mother.
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Run Up for Down Syndrome =-.
    Twitter:

    • Hmmm…I guess I get that feeling when I’m working too…but I don’t like to admit it because I don’t want administration to be my passion!! :)
      And isn’t it terrible that we judge ourselves so harshly? And why is it easier to see our work skills but not our personal skills?

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