May 5, 2016

love what's yours

I visit my Teammates mentee every Wednesday during my lunch break. My buddy (I can't disclose her name, so that's what I'll call her in this post) and I have met once a week, every week during the school year for three years now. There have been some rocky moments (the transition from elementary school to middle school is rough), but we've found a comfortable groove.

Typically I bring some sort of craft to make. We're both craft-lovers, and having a project to work on seems to work well for us. We made mini owl stuffed animals a couple of weeks ago. We painted canvases in the fall. We decorated letter blocks with our first initials. And so on.

This week, we finished creating an art project that basically involved taking fancy pieces of paper and creating a wall hanging by rolling and folding the paper accordingly. I'm not really doing a good job of explaining this (and I'm not totally sure how to do better) so here's a picture of me with my finished product to give you an idea.

See. It's an owl, and it has a jewel on it, which is pretty. It's art. (You can also see my buddy having a little fun with me by photobombing my picture with a peace sign. Silly girl.)

After finishing up my bejeweled owl, I helped my buddy finish up her own project. I cut up more pieces of tape and helped her put together the design (which was a pretty paper flower). While she exclaimed in excitement about it coming together, I said, "That looks great. Do you love it?" in a casual sort of way like you do.

Then she said, "I do love it. I made it, and you should love what you make, because its yours."

She was so sincere as she said it, which somehow made it even more sweet and wonderful. She's a sixth grader (who was actually kind of having a rough day, because middle school is the worst) and you could tell she truly believed what she said. There I was, feeling pretty smug about helping to get her out of a funk, but then she turned around and said something that reached me on a level I wouldn't have expected.

I've thought about those words a lot since our meeting yesterday. I've thought about how I tend to lean towards self-deprecation (and even self-loathing) when it comes to my own creations, from my art projects to my books. But I shouldn't. I should be proud of them. I should be proud of myself. I should love them, because I made them, and they're mine. It's probably not as easy as flipping a switch to change that mentality of mine, but it's worth giving a shot.

Of course it took a much wiser buddy to help me realize that.

But now that I've had this little epiphany thanks to my buddy, I realize it goes beyond changing the way I think. As her mentor, as her friend, I want to support my buddy and help her keep that attitude. It's hard to stay positive, to have confidence and belief in yourself, when it sometimes feels like the world is out to hate on you. But wouldn't that world be a whole lot better if we all loved ourselves and what we do a little more?

So let's love what we do, what we make, because it's ours. Maybe it isn't perfect, but that's life, right? You can still love it.

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