This is perhaps the most honest post I have written thus far. Yes, I’m a little scared.
Three weeks ago, nearly 1,000 U.S. Army privates stood on a field in front of me. They had just completed what for many, if not all of them, were the hardest ten weeks of their young lives. As I watched the Ft. Jackson Basic Training Graduation ceremony what struck me first was a sense of awe. There were so many of them. What hit me next was a tinge of jealousy. Here were hundreds of young men and women, pledging their hearts, minds, and bodies to a cause. I could think of very little in my life that would motivate me to run to the center of a parade field and yell my allegiance, my absolute faith and certainty.
And then as God often does, or the “Universe” as a friend recently explained her faith “Because,” she said, “God is everywhere and everything,” I was given the answer I needed. No, a deep voice from the beyond sounding remarkably like Morgan Freeman did not say, “Jodie, my child, here is your purpose.” Rather, LTC Glick, Commander of the 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment walked to the podium and delivered his brief address to the graduates. His words have been stuck in my mind ever since.
“Have pride,” LTC Glick told the privates.
Do I take pride in my life and myself? The truth is, not always. The simple fact is that every day I put off a work out or choose chicken fingers and fries rather than a grilled chicken breast and steamed vegetables or put off writing, I diminish myself. I might as well say that I am only worth the poor choices I make. This action spits in the face of every person who has ever believed in me; every person who helped shape me into the woman I really am. It certainly does nothing to promote the woman I could be.
I have always had a bit of an inferiority complex directly resulting from being the third child with two older, ridiculously smart sisters and a younger brother who could beat you at any sport and then charm you into being happy that you lost. But being humble is more than wanting to be better and being modest about accomplishments. Childhood whining aside, I had to ask myself if I am truly humble as an adult, or do I allow my ego to impede growth? Yep. I impede.
Here’s an example: At a recent party for the cast and crew of Love, Loss, and What I Wore (a show I would do over and over if given the chance), the director told me that as soon as I opened my mouth at the audition I was cast. “I knew you were the Rosie role immediately,” he told me. Yes, that would be the Rosie O’Donnell role. I should have thought, “Wow! He immediately wanted me to play this very challenging and comedic role! Really? I am so honored!” But, instead, I stewed for weeks over being cast in the “fat” role. Rather than being thankful for the compliment, I raged against my reflection in the mirror insisting that I would never be cast as the “fat role” again.
It wasn’t until I heard the words, “Be humble,” that I realized what really needed to change: my internal focus on my outward appearance. I have been given gifts and one body in which to share those gifts with the world. My ego (that voice inside my head that says, “I’m pretty, damn it!”) impedes progress. Rather than being humble enough to accept my faults and work to change what I am unhappy about, I metaphorically bang my head against a wall and then reach for the chocolate. True humility just might lead me to take better care of my body in order to fully realize my goals in life.
“Don’t become complacent.”
LTC Glick’s final guidance to the privates standing at parade rest in front of him hit home for me. Do I let myself off the hook too often? Yes. Do I place a sense of urgency on my goals? Not always. Every day that I allow my second novel to rest unfinished in my exterior hard drive or I look to my husband and say, “I’m too tired to cook. Let’s order out,” or I elect to stay home on the couch rather than go to that play or festival or social gathering, I allow my life to be less than what it should be. I waste time. I become satisfied with being less, doing less, feeling less like my true self. My complacency has to stop.
I encourage all of you to ask yourself these tough questions. Do you take pride in yourself? Are you truly humble? Have you become complacent? If you are brave, and I hope you are, share your thoughts and feelings about these questions in the comment section below. My sincere hope is that one day, we will all be able to stand in the middle of a parade field and without hesitation declare to the world that we are truly living every aspect of our lives exactly how we want and need in order to become our best selves.