If It Smells Like Pride and Looks Like Pride, It’s Probably Pride

Honesty moment: I recently realized a personal vice of mine, pride.

My form of pride does not present itself in the typical form, which makes it harder to spot.

I am not like the Kims and Kanyes of the world. The over-indulgent, self-absorbed, selfie-loving, me-focused personalities. It’s a quieter, more subtle kind of pride.

My form of pride is one where I choose to withold things, whether it be my gifts or talents, my emotions- good or bad, my thoughts and opinions. I withhold communication because it’s easier to shut down than do the work of being honest and, most uncomfortable of all, vulnerable. (Yikes!)

I have always thought that steering clear of the spotlight was a commendable trait. I thought it was a form of humility, especially when it comes to talents. I thought it was better to always allow other people to take center stage and for me to step back. I thought this was normal, healthy and even admirable.

I am an artsy person, which makes living in LA such an adventure. It’s a city of creatives- actors, dancers, singers, writers, musicians and artists. It’s such a gift living in a city full of passionate people.

Talking to my artsy peers, I have found that they share a common struggle as me, wanting to withhold their gifts, talents and passions. Why? Because it’s so much easier than putting yourself out there-for ridicule, for rejection, for judgment and to be torn apart by people’s opinions.

I love to sing, but rarely, have I shared this gift. I love to write, but it took almost seven years for me to actively share my blog with people. Why? I did not want the attention but more so, the possible failure that could come from sharing my passions.

Here’s what I am learning- My gifts, my talents, my passions are not for or about me. When I withhold these things from the world, I am limiting what God can do in and through me. Diming my own light won’t make anyone else’s shine brighter. Only by shining do I give other people permission to shine. Only by sharing do I encourage other people to do the same.

Twenty-Something Advice (for Anybody): “Diming my own light won’t make anyone else shine brighter.”

I am still learning that sharing is a part of the human experience- the good, the bad and the not so pretty. I write this blog “Life as Told by an Upcoming Twenty-Something” so I can allow other people into my story, the wins, the losses, the failures and the beauty from ashes moments.

What I know is my story, my life, is not all about me but about the people journeying with me. Humility says, “Hey, this is me- the good and bad. The strengths and weaknesses. I want to let you see me.”

Here’s to identifying pride- even the sneaky, hard to spot kind.

With hope,

Stevie

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The 21st Summer

So tomorrow, September 10, is my 22nd birthday. I have no big party or dinner planned.  No night out on the town with the girls.  Yet and still I am very excited for tomorrow. I get to celebrate my life!! I have grown to realize the beauty of each day and it’s simplest gifts.

Life is like a novel. It is full of chapters and scenes.  Different characters grace the pages. Some come in and are quickly gone, while others leave a more permanent impression. We are the authors of our happiness and thus determine whether or not our days, or chapters, will be filled with love, light and hope.

This past year has been one of many ups and downs for me. My senior year of college brought a lot of changes, some harder than others but all worth the lessons learned. I have come to the reality that while everyone gets older, not everyone actually grows up.  Maturing and learning is a choice.  To really take time to have self reflection and have that “man in the mirror” moment that Michael Jackson so famously coined in his song, takes initiative and self discipline.  It means acknowledging and coming to terms with truths about ourselves, that although not always pretty are nonetheless worth the facing, accepting and changing when applicable. Learning and maturing isn’t easy, which is why everyone does not do it. To say the least, this year has been a humbling experience for me. I have had to face my own ugly truths, lost friends, gained friends, gotten closer to my family and God and been pushed more than I thought possible.  In the end, I know that it is all worth it.

As the quote by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross says,

“The most beautiful people are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

Here are some of the lessons I have learned this year.  This past summer has given me a lot of time for self reflection and to just be still.  Aaaaah…… be still.  Those words are so powerful.  If you have never really done that, just sat and stared at the clouds or the stars or listened to the rain or said a prayer and waited to hear from God or to feel peace, I suggest some major “be still” time for you my friend.

Along with the things I have learned, I added some of my favorite pictures from this past year below! I hope these things are of some help! They are simple but have meant a world of difference in my life this year and have helped me gain perspective.

Lessons Learned

1: The power of my thoughts (the power of positive thinking). Your emotions are dependent upon your thoughts.

Dog walking at the Humane Society

2: The importance of having self respect (confidence and love for yourself) as a woman. “We must learn to fight for ourselves the way we fight for our own children.” Ann Curry

My 21st birthday with my very two first friends in the state of Oklahoma

3: To put your hope in God alone. Titles, relationships amd material things fade. God is the only constant.

The Helmers, my adopted grandparents and OSU alumni

4: No one has power over you unless you give it to them. You choose your response. Women are powerful.

My sorority little sister and I at OSU Homecoming 2011

5: In relationships and friendships, learn to listen. Really listen to the other person. Communication (open, honest, and real) is a must. Don’t fight to be right. Fight for resolution. To have a friend, you must learn to be a friend.

Myself and the Office of Multicultural Affairs Misses for 2011-2012

6: Stay close to the source of your identity and worth, which is God. Time with God and in his word is a must.

Me and one of my oldest friends, Dajai, in Michigan to bring in the new year

7: Don’t be so hard on yourself. Allow yourself to feel and to hurt, to be sad, to smile, to fall down and to laugh at falling down. Give yourself time and space to grow.

Oklahoma State’s Founding Dance Marathon Executive Team

8. Love your family.  They are your built in team sent from God from birth. Hard times and fights may come, but don’t let momentary feelings ever stop you from appreciating the people in your life.

Meeting my godsister for the first time!

Here are some more photos from the year:

The Sarah Smith of the University of Central OklahomaErica DeLoera, a great friend and future L.A. fashionistaStudent Alumni Board 2011-2012Gameday working in the suites!The final two contestants for the Miss Black OSU 2012 pageantHalloween 2011 The Student Alumni Board 2012 Graduating Seniors

Stephkt