You don’t have time. You’re on this earth for a dash of time, really. and then that’s it. And for some reason that reality and knowing that, it just changed everything. I felt that I don’t have any time to stay up all night worrying about what someone who doesn’t love me says about me … And here’s a whole slew of people who love me, that Im devaluing; I’m not even spending any time with them. And my mortality is staring me in the face.
Yesterday afternoon, flipping through the TV channels, Michael happened to come across Oprah Winfrey interviewing Oscar nominee actress Viola Davis, about her life and career. Ms. Davis spoke of the years she struggled to become the celebrated and honored actress she is today. She spoke eloquently about her challenges and diffculties, especially those with chronic low self-esteem. Her interview resonated with both Tom and Michael, because we have talked with so many other people for whom – like us, as well – have had to discover a place within us where we have assurance and confidence in whom we are and whom have been created to be. Viola Davis, in particular, she shared about how lonely and discouraged she has often felt, and about how her ethnicity has also affected her feelings of acceptance. It is in discovering that place of assurance and confidence within herself that she has been much more able to follow her tremendous talents and dreams.
What struck us most about Ms. Davis was the part of her conversation with Oprah that concerned the searing negativity she encounatered and endured as she tried to make her way as a fledgling actress. Even after winning numerous acting awards – including two Tonys, as well as two Academy Award nominations – and having been recognized as one of the finest actresses today, she still had to struggle with her own sense of self-worth and her identity as a person of meaning.
But a turning point began to emerge when she recognized that she needed to surround herself with and concentrate on the people in her life who would love her well and encourage her to be whom she truly has been created to be. That realization served as a stage for her to accept herself, her heritage and her worth, not just as an actress but also as a human being. By not accepting her self-worth for such a long time, she realized that she was devaluing herself and others and not allowing those others to help her and support her and encourage her on her journey.
We all need to come to that place, that place in which we recognize that life is too short, that we cannot waste time worrying about what others think or say about us, especially those whose love for us is either non-existent or limited. We need to identify those people in our lives who truly do love us – appreciate and affirm us, support and care for us – even and (most) especially when we cannot do that for ourselves. We all need others in our lives who are life-affirming, those who help to make us better people, those who positively motivate us to be our best and truest selves.
Michael and Tom can speak to this very personally – as do certainly most people. We ourselves know what it’s like to be in the same role as Viola Davis. Having others place expectations on us and trying to make us into something that we’re not, keeping us awake too many nights, leaving us unfulfilled, creating burdens that really shouldn’t be ours to bear. But we also know what it’s like to surround ourselves with people who only want what’s best for us. We recognize the rich significance of that kind of support in our own lives. And so we encourage you to spend as much time as is possible with people who are going to bring out the best in you. Invest in those people. Allow them to invest in you. Be intentional with those people. Welcome their intentionality with you. Because, as Viola Davis says, life is too short to be lying awake at night putting all our focus and attention on caring what everyone else thinks about us. Embrace love today and those who are there to offer it. It’s its essence that a good life is all about.