I've been thinking a lot lately about self-worth and what it means to live with authenticity, confidence, and a strong character...

Words by Danica Ready

Why is it that somewhere in the gradual transition from childhood to our adult lives do we lose our bold sense of enthusiasm for what we have to offer the world? And why are we so darn hard on ourselves?

It's tempting to change who we are or what we have to offer based on what others expect and want from us. 

I got a sneak peek yesterday of some new work from my artist friend Mac Meckley, and was impressed by her commitment and loyalty to her own personal style. Living in the Northwest, she is surrounded by people who tend to prefer a fairly "safe" color palette - a natural and toned down aesthetic. However, her work is anything but toned down. Rather than apologize for it, or make things that will appeal to our Northwest palette, she embraces her personal style. "Sometimes I just can't help but make things hot pink!" she said to me.

Her comment is in perfect harmony with the title of a book of illustrated quotes from the talented Lisa Congdon: Whatever You Are, Be a Good One.

To deny what we are, or to try and change our preferences/skills/talents/passions can never end well. We will turn ourselves into muted and diluted versions of ourselves, or worse yet, end up with a bad case of the stripes... (Read the book by David Shannon! It's amazing.)

Joan Didion defined character as

the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life. [It] is the source from which self-respect springs.

Anna Deavere Smith writes about confidence and self-esteem in her book Letters To A Young Artist:

Confidence is a static state. Determination is active. Determination allows for doubt and for humility - both of which are critical in the world today.

Self-esteem is that which gives us a feeling of well-being, a feeling that everything’s going to be alright - that we can determine our own course and that we can travel that course.

So, I'd like to propose a toast to the idea of staying true to ourselves, to fostering a deep and lasting sense of self-respect, to remembering what it felt like to be a boldly enthusiastic child, and to the effort it takes to nurture a strong and resilient character within.