I must begin this piece with a question. What would your response be when asked, much in the same vein as Heather Small posed this question in her famous and undeniably catchy tune, what in your life you are proud of? Or indeed as Heather put it: “What have you done today, to make you feel proud?”
At first this seems a simple question, until one stops to think about it. Personally, I cannot bring to mind many occasions on which I can honestly say I have felt proud of myself. That being said I do recall many a time I have been pleased about something. To me, at least, there is a difference. My hope is that in writing this I will be able to show examples of both instances when I have merely been pleased, and some of those times which might indeed have warranted the word proud to describe the particular pleasure I experienced. Thereby, I may perhaps be able to illustrate the difference between the two. Here goes nothing.
It seems sensible to start by delving in my early life to find examples. I remember being pleased, when at the age of eight I agreed to have surgery which was designed to ensure that I would be able to have better mobility as I grew older. At that young age of course, I had not the vaguest notion what the decision would mean for me. At that stage, then, I knew only that my parents were very proud that I had ‘been brave’ and agreed, and thus I was pleased in turn. I don’t think, though, that I could have said I was proud.
The earliest occasion I can remember feeling proud was on a much more trivial occasion. I was at a party when I was perhaps nine or ten, which had been arranged by an organisation called Red Caps. We, that is, my sister and, I were involved primarily because my mother was on the Red Caps committee. At this party then, I was involved in a game of musical chairs. The, for want of a better word, ringmaster would stop the music and shout something like, ‘Find someone wearing a watch’, and we children would then scramble to find someone fitting that description and drag them to a chair set up in the middle of the room before they were all taken. I remember at one point with four of us left in the game and two available chairs, the music stopped and we were asked to find a man with a beard. The other three people, dutifully went on a frantic search, but I was proud to outfox them by realising that a man standing only feet from me – the ringmaster himself- sported both a beard and a rather marvellous moustache. He consequently found himself dragged to a chair, me grinning proud to have outsmarted the others.
Some years later, I gave a speech regarding disability and the breaking of barriers to members of the European Parliament, at a conference I attended in my capacity as a Student councillor. I remember feeling proud that I had managed to get through it without ending up in a gibbering mess. I also recall being immensely pleased with the £50 I was given for my presentation, which at fifteen, made me richer than Midas.
At a similar event a year later I remember feeling very proud of my sister, Lucy, when she helped me to give a talk on disability to the Red Cross.
I was pleased when I got my GCSE results, but mainly I was relieved that I did not have to retake my maths exam, having achieved the satisfactory grade C. The same can be said when I obtained my A-levels. I suppose it may have been upgraded to pride when I was awarded my degree. I hope in the near future to be proud when I manage to pass my driving test.
What, I hear you ask, makes you most proud now? Well, if I can find a way to express this without it sounding soppy and nauseating, I am most proud these days, (always excepting the strange but great pride I feel whenever I manage to answer more than ten questions on University Challenge) is the pride I experience when I know that I have helped a friend, given advice, or had some part in making them smile.
This has been Lizzie, with Notes on Pride. Happy New Year everyone, may you all find something or someone you can be proud of in 2016.