“What’s your favorite thing about yourself?” she asked, wide smile on her face.
I just stood there. My eyebrows shot up.
“Wow,” I said.
Let me set the scene. This was at the end of a very full day at a school in Cranberry Township, PA. I had already led two assemblies, gone to lunch with ten people, signed 120 books and visited a classroom where I was asked questions like, “Would you rather wear a ballgown every day for a year or a belly-shirt on your birthday for the rest of your life?” (I LOVED the classroom visit questions, by the way!)
At the end of the assemblies I lead, I save time for the kids to ask me questions and oftentimes they ask about my favorite color, number, sport, hobby, food (it’s a medium rare steak) and other fairly trivial bits of information. Sometimes they’ll ask if I was ever bullied or if I wish I had two hands or if I remember when I realized not everybody is like me. So, at the end of this full day, at the end of the third assembly, when this adorable 2nd grade girl asked me my favorite thing about myself…I froze.
I actually think I made her repeat it. It was jarring. I travel around the country telling whoever will listen that they’re awesome just the way they are. I challenge the audience at the end of my talk to think of one thing about themselves that’s different about themselves than anybody else and, if they happen to not like that thing, to try and think of a way to view it positively. I also challenge them to tell one friend one thing they think is awesome about them. Even so, I was taken aback and couldn’t think of anything about myself! I suddenly felt both self-conscious and arrogant.
I eventually stammered my way to an answer that’s actually true, though. I told her that I love my sense of humor and that I’m able to make people laugh. It brings me so much joy when I’m able to do that.
It really made me think, though. Why did it catch me so off-guard? Why did I have such a difficult time answering?
I think we’re kind of conditioned to think that liking something about ourselves is prideful or arrogant. But, that isn’t inherently true. It can be, and we have all experienced that, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it’s incredibly healthy to like who you are. We should all like who we are! And if we don’t, we have some work to do.
Clearly I have some work to do. And her question opened my eyes to that. It was a great reminder for me to do the work that leads to a healthy view of myself, so that I can authentically do the same for others. And honestly, that makes me really excited.
So…what’s YOUR favorite thing about YOU?!
(Thank you to everyone at Rowan Elementary for the incredible day!)