“Ask a flower in the field: ‘Do you feel useful? After all, you do nothing but produce the same flowers over and over?’ And the flower will answer: ‘I am beautiful, and beauty is my reason for living.’ Ask the river: ‘Do you feel useful, given that all you do is to keep flowing in the same direction?’ And the river will answer: ‘I’m not trying to be useful, I’m trying to be a river.’
Don’t try to be useful. Try to be yourself: that is enough, and that makes all the difference.
Walk neither faster nor slower than your own soul. Because it is your soul that will teach you the usefulness of each step you take. Sometimes taking part in a great battle But sometimes you can do that simply by smiling, for no reason, at someone you happen to pass in the street. Without intending to, you might have saved the life of a complete stranger, who also thought he was useless and might have been ready to kill himself, until a smile gave him new hope and confidence.”
Except of “Manuscript found in Accra”
Isn’t it beautiful?!
I woke up one morning, maybe two days ago, to a Positively Positive post in my e-mail box that I just find to be lovely.
Why “I Am Beautiful” Is A Problematic Statement For My 3-Year-Old
I had much difficulty sleeping for a couple nights because of my chronic pain disorder. I wasn’t viewing this painful experience in a positive or negative way, I was just taking it as it is. Just excruciatingly painful. It was making me sickly, fatigued, exhausted, yet, I couldn’t sleep well. I woke up after an extremely restless two and a half hours of sleep feeling drained, uninspired, dull, ragged, and wrung. At least I wasn’t hopeless or depressed though so that’s good.
But when I read this post, I was inspired. It’s about how we don’t have to accept other people’s (or society as a whole) definition of us or labels we are branded with. Even positive labels such as “beautiful” or “perfect” “amazing.” You can just be YOU and that’s good enough.
Even positive labels and words we believe describe us well, can be detrimental if we feel we must live up to them so that people will continue to like us or so that we don’t have an identity crisis if that (positive) label begins to no longer apply to us.
We shouldn’t have to feel that we must live up to someone else’s definition of us. Or even our own definition of us if that definition is no longer or never was appropriate or for the best. We don’t have to accept or adhere to certain labels or descriptions people slap onto us, good or bad.
In this Positively Positive post, this mother’s three year old little girl rejects being called “beautiful” by her mother. Not necessarily because she doesn’t believe she, herself, is beautiful, but because she doesn’t care about being anything but herself. So many words, with positive and negative connotations alike, can apply to all of us. But we are still just us. She reminds her mom that she’s not “beautiful,” she’s Summer, Summer which is the child’s name.
And that’s good enough.
And always will be good enough.
We don’t have to live up to any label that doesn’t serve us well. Not even labels we gave ourselves, ones which were at one point, good for us.
In high school and middle school, for a couple years I was considered “smart.” I got all A’s and B’s and never needed much help with my school work to maintain slightly above average grades. Other kids knew me for being “smart” and I took on the label for myself. I felt much pressure to maintain a “smart” image and receive the same grades or better on each report card. Sometimes I really did need help, especially with math. It was difficult for me but I feared that if I asked for help, I wouldn’t be the “smart” girl any longer. Then one day I got my report card and received a “C” in Algebra in 10th grade.
I only valued myself for being “smart.” My sense of identify and self worth shattered. I thought so low of myself and wondered what others would think of me once I told them. I was no longer the “smart” girl. Then what was I? Who was I? I was still me. The same me I always was, am now, and always will be. I just never realized it then.
Sometimes even now I have certain words I love to label myself with. “Happy” “Cheerful” “Positive” “Optimistic” “Someone who is so happy to be alive.”
And the list goes on. And while generally these labels very much apply to me, they don’t always. I’m not always happy or cheerful or positive. And when I am not experiencing those feelings or traits, am I still me? Of course I am!
I may experience a mini identity crisis when I feel as if I’m not living up to the me I try to create myself to be, the me most people know me as. But I’m still that me. Traits, emotions, thoughts, qualities, labels, feelings…fluctuate and change but deep inside we are still us.
Deep inside, there is some immutable essence that will always be me. Always be you. Even when your thoughts, feelings, and qualities change for better and for worse.
You’re beautiful because you’re you. Not because you’re thin. Or curvy, have long hair or short hair, not because of your intelligence or your ability to solve problems, not because you’re some definition of perfect or always happy or always helpful or always inspired or inspiring…your beauty is everything you are, all rolled into one, good and bad, together, flaws, perfections, mutable traits and all.
You can label yourself but let those labels change when they no longer serve you and know that’s ok.
Give your name its own definition. One that fits you well. One that you create for yourself.
It’s beautiful what a three year old little girl and her mom can teach & remind us, even a three year old little girl and her mama we never laid eyes on in person.