In a former life, I was a local pageant queen. One of my queenly responsibilities was speaking to youth groups and giving motivational speeches. I remember one speech in particular for a group of teenage girls – some of whom were only a couple years younger than me – about confidence and self esteem. The speech was centered around some advice that I had been given – “Fake it ’til you make it.” In other words, if you don’t feel happy, pretend to feel happy until you start to feel happy. If you don’t feel confident, pretend to feel confident until you actually exude confidence.
I thought back to this advice the other day as I was playing a delightful game of “Find the Poop” with my children. My in-the-middle-of-potty-training-but-she-doesn’t-quite-have-the-hang-of-it-yet daughter had an accident somewhere in the house at an indistinct time, and we were trying to retrace her steps and reclaim any pull-up contents that may have escaped as she played in almost every room of our house.
Ah, the glamorous life.
In my frustration at my inability to potty train my daughter, and the subsequent time we wasted searching the house for the contents of her pull-up, I was discouraged. All my plans for the afternoon, all the headway I felt we’d made in our potty training journey felt like a huge waste of time because none of it had made a difference.
I think we all want to feel like we make a difference to others. When we are young, we have grand visions of changing the world, solving world hunger, creating world peace. (All the beauty pageant answers.) Those are great visions to have. But when we grow older, our circle of influence seems to shrink in around us. Sometimes we wonder if the good we do everyday really matters to anyone. Finding toddler poop doesn’t seem as good and useful to the world as using our energy in more seemingly noble pursuits.
But it is important. My children matter. My work as a mother is important. I make a difference. All the small actions I make every day add up to training up a confident, successful young person who will someday launch into the world. (Who is hopefully potty trained.)
And when it doesn’t feel like I’m making a difference? I’m going to fake it ’til I make it. I’m going to act as if all these things I’m doing make a difference.
Because they do.
Click the text below to share this quote on Twitter:
“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” – William James