10 things I like about me
Cue the marching band!
I turn 37 tomorrow. Thirty-seven isn’t a particularly notable number, though it does feel particularly grown up. Thirty-seven is close to 40. It’s the so-called “magical tipping point” where half the U.S. population is older than you and half is younger. For American men, 37 is considered middle-aged.
Thirty-seven is also five years older than my late husband lived to be. If I live as long as my dad did, that means I have 21 years of life left.
Perhaps 37 is notable after all.
When I was brainstorming today’s newsletter, a rare thought popped into my head: I could list things I like about me! This issue could be a gift, from me to myself, I thought. A way to do something nice for me.
Then I cringed. That idea made me so uncomfortable! It is far easier for me to write about my struggles with anxiety or self-esteem than it is to talk about things I actually like about myself. Hell, it’s even easier to open up about something as stigmatized as postpartum psychosis than to freely admit I have qualities I enjoy.
Being earnest and openly admitting that there are things about myself that I admire? That I accept? That I’m—gasp—proud of? No thanks! That feels way too vulnerable.
For a few days, I pushed that idea to the back of my mind. I tried to come up with other topics to write about. I considered skipping the newsletter this week or publishing the follow-up success issue today. But no matter how many other things I considered, that original idea would creep back into my mind.
The fact that it makes you uncomfortable is a reason to do it, my heart whispered.
Now stop coming up with lame ideas and just get it over with!, my brain shouted a little louder.
So here we are. I am now, on the eve of my 37th birthday, sharing a list of things that I like about myself. At 10 items, the list is relatively small. Even then, it was a challenge to write.
As I compiled this list, I had to fight the urge to not include caveats. I wanted to add a host of parentheticals, admitting the downsides of some of these qualities, or how I could do better. I found myself trying to anticipate what someone might say in response to this list. Um, actually ...
It’s possible that person exists. More likely, though, that annoying interjector is me. I’m my own worst enemy. I’m the one carefully cataloging the reasons I’ve been a disappointment over the years. If my task was to write down things I didn’t like about myself? That list would easily be a lot longer than 10 items.
But that’s not the list I’m writing today. Identifying 10 things I like about myself may have been a challenge, but it’s a start. It is a gift. It’s a good way to celebrate this magical tipping point of a birthday.
1. I’m trustworthy. Like a true Obliger, if I say I’m going to do something, I’ll do it. I meet deadlines, I keep promises, I show up. People know they can rely on me. I get work done and make things happen.
2. I’m organized. My organization skills enable me to get all of that work done. My house is tidy, my to-do lists are thorough, and my time management is solid. Being organized isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but for me, it makes life a lot better.
3. I’m funny. I know those first two items don’t exactly scream hilarious. To be fair, I don’t scream hilarious things either. I’m a quiet and clever kind of funny—the person who says the punchline softly, only for someone else to repeat it and get laughs. I’m ok with this.
4. I cry at parades. This is maybe a weird thing to like about yourself, but it’s honestly one of my favorite things about me. Parades, marching bands, and any kind of earnest display of joy make me well up with happy tears. I can’t control it. My heart just soars with the pure sweetness of it all.
5. I’m a good listener—especially when it comes to talking about hard things. I can be quiet in a big group of people. As an introvert, one-on-one time is where I really shine. And during one-on-one time when someone needs to open up about something sad, challenging, or difficult? I’m your gal.
6. I’m a loving mom. I don’t know whether it’s my place to declare myself a “good” or “fun” mom. But I can say with confidence that I’m a loving mama. I am present, patient, and caring. I read bedtime stories with panache—no matter how many times I’ve read them before. I look for new games to play and new lessons to teach. Sometimes it scares me how much I love my daughter. It’s unquestionably worth it.
7. I’m good at saving money. When Jamie died, my financial security fell apart. I used half of his life insurance to pay for funeral expenses and, in a cloud of grief and guilt, donated the other half. I made $40,000 less that year at work, on top of losing his income. A month after he died, I sold our house for far less than it would soon be worth.
After a bunch of missteps, I got my act together. I hired a financial adviser and learned how to budget. I set aside enough money to take a year off of work and put the remainder in retirement. Now, four years later, I’m still keeping up those good habits. Saving money has enabled me to help family members in need, have cash on hand for emergencies, and not freak out (too much) when freelance work is slow. I’m still making much less than I used to, but I’m smart about how I spend and save. It makes me feel empowered.
8. I’m thoughtful. I keep a stockpile of stamps and thank-you cards and rarely miss an opportunity to tell someone how much I appreciate them. I remember birthdays and death days. I do my best to ask about important events and check in on people when they’re experiencing a tough time. I put lots of thought into the things I say and the gifts I give.
9. I put care into things I create. Whether it’s this newsletter, the mentoring resource I founded, or the act of hosting a couple friends for dinner, I care deeply about getting the details right. I try to consider as many different perspectives and viewpoints as I can when creating things. I sweat the small stuff. I care about making the experience a good one for everyone involved.
10. I’m always learning. I read at least three books a month on top of countless articles and newsletters—taking constant mental notes along the way. I write this newsletter weekly, plus two or three freelance case studies a month—getting better with each one. I do things like meditate, go to therapy, write about my feelings, and other practices that help me process the tough stuff. Maybe most of all, I am learning—once again—how to be a good partner. The learning curve of loving again after loss is a steep one. But I am learning. I am always trying to do better. And I like that about myself.
There it is. Ten things I like about me. It’s telling how much I avoided writing this list. But I did it! It’s a start. Maybe next birthday, I’ll have 10 more things to add.
p.s. Speaking of being vulnerable, I’ve had a notable drop in newsletter revenue lately—mainly from readers who can’t afford to renew their subscriptions. I get it! Life is especially expensive these days.
If you are able to afford it, now would be an amazing time to become a paying subscriber. Or you could send a one-time tip on Venmo: @Katie-Hawkins-Gaar.
Thanks, y’all. It’s appreciated more than you know. ❤️