Last night, I was organizing some personal papers and ran across a file from my previous employer. It contained non-disclosure documents and other assorted things, but one page that caught my attention was my performance review.
Even though, I haven't held that job for well over a year, I sat down and read the performance review document carefully...going over every statement about what they thought of my work, my performance and ultimately me.
It's so easy to get caught up in what others may or may not think about us. Maybe it comes across through a look that doesn't seem right, a comment made with a particular tone, or an air of fake friendliness or disdain.
Why do we allow these negative interactions to have such an effect on us? Why does a random stranger's opinion matter so much? For that matter, why does anyone's opinion of us matter?
I think it has something to do with my dad's favorite maxim, the thing he always said to me as I was leaving the house as a teenager, "Remember who you are and where you come from."
When you know who you are, what you believe in and what you stand for, it's easier to allow others' judgments and opinions of you roll off your back. I'm not saying there is never a time when you might feel less than. But having that sense of your identity really goes a long way.
As someone who believes in God, much of my identity comes from my belief. I find that when I spend time thinking about what God says about me (that I'm loved, that I'm His precious child, etc) I get a much truer sense of my identity than when I look to others to tell me who I am.
The world will always tell us we aren't good enough, that we'll never amount to anything, that our accomplishments define us, that we're in constant competition with each other to see who can be the best. Call me crazy, but this is total crap. It's like my performance review from a job I no longer have. Whether it was a glowing review or harsh criticism, it doesn't define who I am. While it might have had some bearing on my life at one time, it's now in the past.