You might say, "well, Danica, I'm not a Hemingway, or Dickens, or whoever, and therefore, I'm not in that category." And you know what I say to that? BALONEY. Actually, I'd use a stronger word here, but I might get in trouble with the internet police, so I won't. :) You don't have to be great to be valuable. You just have to be you.
The trouble with owning your value is that it's scary to step out there and do it.
Yesterday, I talked to a friend who said that she was afraid of sounding too prideful or getting too big of a head if she started sharing all the reasons why she was valuable. And I understand that. We've all met the jerks who think too much of themselves. In fact, this friend and I have a pact that if we ever turn into writing super stars, we will keep each other in check to not become jerks. But there is a difference between saying I am a great writer and what I do is valuable, and saying, I'm too cool for you because I'm a great writer.
God gave us each these fabulous talents and abilities. So when we downplay them and say that we're not as awesome as God made us to be because we're afraid of people thinking our heads are too big, we're denying God. We're not letting God's gifts shine through us. We've dimmed the light, and frankly, I think that's offensive to God. He gave us our gifts and talents to USE them.
How do you start owning your value?
First of all, recognize it! Have you thought of all the ways that you are valuable? The things that make you valuable? Seriously. Take a minute and write a few down. I'll give you a few examples.
1. I am a great encourager.
2. My friends know that I will tell them the truth, even if it's uncomfortable.
3. I have a variety of life experiences to draw upon.
4. I'm a good writer.
5. People like my books.
6. I am a good mother.
7. I love chickens!!
8. I seek to understand other points of view.
9. I love to try new things and have new experiences.
10. I am persistent.
Now think about the kind of person who is all of those things. Put in your head what kind of person that is. That's a pretty awesome person, right? And guess what? That person is ME!! Your list of all of your awesome things? That's YOU!!
What does this have to do with owning your value as a writer?
Everything. If you aren't owning your personal value, then you can't own who you are as a writer. All of those wonderful things about me? I bring that to my writing. I have those gifts that add value to the words I write. Are my words autobiographical? No. But they are flavored with those beautiful and not so beautiful things about me. And yes, I do believe the ugly things, our scars, our flaws, those add value too. But too often we focus on the negative and the reasons why we can't, and we don't see the wonderful things we bring to the table with our writing.
The friend I spoke with the other day, she is a fantastic writer. People love her books. But she's had a lot of things happen lately that have discouraged her and she's feeling not so valuable. She's afraid to put herself out there and shine. What if the negatives are right? What if she's being too bold in saying that she is a great writer? What if she's not as great as she thinks she might be?
All of those things are lies. She, like so many of us, get trapped into believing them because we're conditioned to think that way instead of owning our value. I'm not saying any of this to pick on her, by the way. I'm just as guilty, and perhaps that's why I can recognize it in her. I've been there.
Why does owning your value matter so much?
When you don't have confidence in your value, it shows. Who wants to have a surgeon with a shaky hand perform surgery on them? But that's exactly what you're doing when you fail to claim your value and stand securely in it.
Being valuable doesn't mean being perfect. I can say I'm a good mom and be confident in that, but also know that I am not a perfect mom. I got a little competitive playing on the Wii with my daughter yesterday and a swear word popped out. Oops! That one mistake doesn't negate the fact that I'm doing a great job raising my kids. And guess what? I admitted my mistake, apologized to them, and turned it into a teaching moment to demonstrate that I am not a perfect mom, but I am a mom willing to acknowledge my shortcomings. My mistake helped build character in my kids. That's valuable.
On the writing side, if I sit at my computer, filled with fear and insecurity, it shows in my writing. If I'm second-guessing myself because I have no confidence in myself and my abilities, I make mistakes that I wouldn't have made otherwise. Last night, if I'd spent the time beating myself up for that swear word, I wouldn't have had the precious giggle and snuggle with my girls. When we fail to acknowledge our value as writers, we're locking up the beautiful moments like giggles and snuggles, and keeping them off the page, and out of the hands of readers who could be blessed by it.