On Being a “Life-ist”

As with all things in life worth pursuing, there is a delicate balance regarding how much weight to place on the perceptions, thoughts, and opinions of others.

There are times when a third-party observer’s valuable insight into your life is useful and imperative in your fight to be better. Sometimes it’s trivial: for a few months I had this weird habit of making a clicking noise often while speaking (at the end of sentences). I had literally no idea I was doing it, and after a friend teased me/alerted me to it, I was thankfully able to quit this annoying habit cold turkey. Sometimes it’s serious: I can’t count the times I’ve been thankful that someone loves me enough to shoot me straight and convey a hard truth about a choice I’ve made or the way I handled a situation.

There are times when another’s criticism is actually more about where they are, versus where you are. There are times when you’re labeled, described, or treated in a way that you should disagree with, clarify, or reject altogether. In my journey, I’ve come full circle regarding the way I allow others to treat me—which is always intricately woven with how I choose to treat myself. I make mistakes. I am human. I am a work in progress. But I now respectfully refuse to allow judgment, condemnation, and “not-enough-ing” into my space.

I read this in an interview here (one of my favorite blogs). It’s a few good daily mantras to focus on:

  • Be kind. See it lift spirits including your own.
  • Let go of how things should be.
  • Say NO when you need to.
  • You are enough just as you are right now.

You are enough just as you are right now. Paste that to all mirrors and surfaces in your vicinity now now (Uganglish slang for actually right now, not in a few hours/days).

Be gracious towards others and always aware/respectful/empathetic of their point of view, while still maintaining a sense of commitment to what you know to be true about you. Reject the damaging advice or observations others have handed you and treasure the ones that build you up (which even those sometimes can cause growing pains. But you’ll be able to tell the good hurt from the bad hurt).

My colleague has given me a Uganglish moniker – she says I am a “life-ist.” She says this term simply means someone who carries herself with joy and is able to act and adapt in many different circumstances and situations with grace and humor. Someone who loves life. I am humbled and overjoyed that someone sees this value of mine lived out. Learn the art of accepting a compliment, seeing and being grateful for the fruits of your labor (it is not always second nature to be a “life-ist” especially in frustrating places like Uganda), and keeping yourself surrounded by people who know the real you and are able to speak into that.

Let us all be “life-ists.” Be a sweetie, don’t burn your bridges, do all you can within your power to communicate clearly and directly and with kindness, speak up when things don’t sit well, roll with the punches and realize you can only control you.

Stepping down from my unsolicited advice pedestal,



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