JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

11 November 2021

I must admit, my Amazon wish list has gotten out of hand. More than 60 book titles stare back at me when I look for my next read. They sit patiently on my virtual wish list knowing that one day – at precisely the right time – I’ll purchase them and devour their words. One of the books on my wish list is Dreams in a Time of War by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. It’s a childhood memoir that takes place in Kenya in the 1940s and 1950s. The book was introduced to me on Goodreads (and subsequently my Amazon wish list) after reading a memoir titled Educated by Tara Westover.

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o values education. He values the arts. And he values the meaning of life. Having lived the life he did, he understands the power of self-belief and self-love. In Dreams in a Time of War, he writes, “Belief in yourself is more important than endless worries of what others think of you. Value yourself and others will value you. Validation is best that comes from within.”

Value Yourself

It’s normal to seek validation for work we’ve done and things we feel. We’re human after all. And when we feel validated, the reward center of our brain lights up with excitement. We feel seen and we feel heard! We feel safe and want to stay in that environment. But constantly seeking external validation can lead us down some pretty harrowing paths. If we seek too much external validation, our behaviors begin to focus on what others want of us instead of what we want for ourselves. That also tends to wreak havoc on our self-worth.  

Confucius — apparently agreeing with Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o — said, “What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others.”

Believe in Yourself

You are enough just as you are. You are strong. You are brave. You are powerful beyond your wildest dreams. I know you are. Look how far you’ve come. Look at what you’ve survived!

Believe in yourself.

I believe I’ll eventually get through my Amazon wish list, even though I’ll likely add 60 more titles before I make a dent in my current list. But there’s a lot more life to live. And there are a lot more lessons for me to learn.

I’m just getting started, but I’m exactly where I need to be.