Monday Muse: Finding Inspiration

Monday, December 13, 2010

Yesterday, I watched a lot of TED Talk. TED (Technology, Entertainment & Design) brings me many inspiring videos of their conference speakers, such as the ones I've posted below. But I wanted to take this post and talk about something that I often overlook when seeking inspiration: finding things in myself that are inspiring.
Oftentimes, I will watch a video or read a story about someone who has done something awe-inspiring. Kavita Ramdas when she speaks on her experiences of talking to women the world over... Eve Ensler telling us to embrace our inner girl... Tony Porter speaking on behalf of men against violence towards women... William Ury's Abrahamic walks... Bart Weetjens with his rats... All these stories are amazing and interesting, and I think "Woah, how could they possibly have done that?"
It seems so intense, so amazing, so radical that they have done these huge things of their own volition. I get pumped up on their amazing journeys, and then... I get down on myself. I think "What have I done in the past year? What have I done in my life that could be comparative to that?"
It starts that cycle of self-doubt and self-criticism that I try to avoid in the rest of my life. I try to separate myself from judging my body, my mind, and my skills too harshly in most concepts. But when I look at someone else, those ideas fly out the window. What happens then?

As my Well Woman peers would echo: this is a classic case of perfectionism.

Not in the traditional sense, mind you. Perfectionism towards yourself is something that I avoid like the plague, letting myself do as well as I can and being proud of that endeavor. But seeing perfect people everywhere else? That is something I do every day. Think about any time that you do something new - don't you get a little flash of fear that you are not going to be as good as some people in the group with you? Even if you know that they've been doing this stuff just as long as you? Or if they are an expert on it from their own long hard work?
I think in our society we refuse to believe that people who are good at something had to work and fail and try again before they attained that position. We just see the perfect part and that's where it stops. And that's something that sorely needs revising.

So, this late Monday, I challenge you to... watch a lot of TED Talk. And, of course, I also challenge you to love yourself by not judging yourself against others. And, also, give others that you see the same break that you are giving yourself. That means: do not think that everyone just grew up perfect and you did not. Do not hold them to some phantom standards that you think are higher than you could ever reach. This is a key feature of accepting yourself and your own personal accomplishments.

Check out some other places I have found inspiration in the Caught My Eye series, as well as some other lessons I have learned in this life.
You may also be interested in some of my opinion pieces, such as Writing Live, Discrimination and Mixed Metaphors, or Single Sex Education for Women and Girls.