With Pride, Always

Pride / noun

A high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, or merit, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.

Dear Younger Me, 

I want you to reread the definition above. Memorize it, actually. What makes you proud? 

Before I even knew what pride was, I associated the feeling with the phrase, “I am proud of you, Neel” echoed by my mom when I came home with an A on my math test or when I followed my table manners. This was the case for many of us; we associate Pride to the feeling of temporary self-fulfilment in meeting a standard set by someone other than ourselves.

What happens when we receive a B on an extremely hard test and we are met with the words, “You could have done better…”? or “I did not raise you to be this person” when we choose to do something our parents don’t agree with?

This was the case for many of us; we associate Pride to the feeling of temporary self-fulfilment in meeting a standard set by someone other than ourselves.

Dear Younger Me,

You are naïve enough to believe what you hear from those you idolize, but you are mistaken. Parents, Teachers and your favourite shows on TV are feeding you their versions of Pride. But I want you to craft your own version; one that is free of other contributors and conditions. What makes you, truly proud?

Dear Younger Me,

Just because the words, “I am proud of you” aren’t there, doesn’t mean you aren’t loved. Do not equate the two. You should be proud of being brave, standing tall, against adversity and the fear of disappointment. Pride is “an inordinate opinion of (your) own dignity”.

As we grow older, other people’s version of Pride toward us becomes enrooted within academics, our professional lives, our personal lives, even our identities. This leads to confusion, conflict, and disappointment not only in others but more importantly, in ourselves.

Pride is about celebrating each other for who we are without any judgement or standards. Pride is about having the freedom to be you, and you only.  You can be proud of things you can’t choose and those you can too. I am proud of the colors I choose to wear. I am proud of expressing my ideas wholeheartedly. I am proud of defining my own worth.

In a world where girls are sold instead of being sent to school, in a world where people are persecuted for their personal beliefs, in a world where people are refrained from marrying whomever they choose, even in our own country where presidential nominees are rallying people behind hatred and xenophobic policies… I choose to stand in Pride to show how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go. In many parts of the world and to the millions of persecuted youth, whether by the government or their parents, my Pride resembles hope and ignites change towards a better future.

So what is Pride to me?

Pride empowers, Pride embodies diversity, equality and life.

Pride, to me, became a conscious choice and a constant reminder that I carry this love not only inwardly but very outwardly; not for myself but for the millions of others who rely on the strength of those of us who are privileged to be and love whomever we want in any given moment of our lives.

Today, I stand in Pride for all those times growing up, I felt “not good enough”. For all those moments we’ve chosen to stand out in a world where we are boxed in “male or female”, the minute we are born. I stand in Pride for all the love from those closest to me for letting me, simply, be me.

Dear Younger Me,

I am Proud to be Me. I hope you are too.  

Essentials: Bright bold colors, the more unique the better.