For the last two weeks I’ve been driving my friend’s Range Rover while he was out of town. I LOVE cars. I love Range Rove-ing cars, and let me tell you, this thing is BEAUTIFUL. It has subwoofers in the front seats, REAL WOOD on the steering wheel and dash, and is easily the smoothest ride I’ve had in a long time. Let’s just say it makes my ’73 Ford truck feel like…well, like a ’73 Ford truck.
One of the things I noticed early in my borrowing the car was the looks I started getting from a completely different demographic of people. I guess I should clarify: I didn’t get looks before driving my friend’s car, so really what I noticed was the sudden presence of looks. And, well I liked it.
And then, BAM. It hit me.
THIS is why I can’t own a car like this (aside from the infeasibility of not being able to AFFORD it).
You see, I have a tendency to try to attach my value to THINGS I buy, and have burned through a lot of stuff in my life attempting to extract some kind of sense of self from it all. I’ve even caught myself presenting new purchases to a friend or family member like it was a trophy I had just won, hoping for praise. As if ‘Yeah, Matt, that’s a really cool shirt!’ is gonna do anything significant to affirm me as a person.
And what if I DO get affirmed for the things I pick out and buy throughout my life? Guess what I’m going to keep doing?
I’m probably going to keep buying stuff and showing it off.
‘Hey did y’all see THIS thing? Am I still valuable?’
It makes me think about a conversation I had with my good friend Byron. Byron is in his 50’s and has an amazing marriage and three great sons. Every time I get to hang out with Byron, I ask him questions about his life and marriage and how in the world he was able to raise such amazing young men.
One of the things Byron told me the last time we got together was he has made it a point to affirm his boys GIFTS more than their TALENTS.
Let me clarify.
A ‘GIFT’ in this illustration, would be a ‘born with’ kinda thing, and a ‘TALENT’ is more a learned skill. Things like thoughtfulness, creativity, or service could be examples of ‘gifts’ as well as kicking a soccer ball or playing the piano if those abilities are obviously ‘born-in’. Talents usually lie more on external things that, with enough will-power and elbow grease, a person could gain proficiency in.
Byron says a person will develop and hold tight to whatever thing is most frequently affirmed in them.
I don’t know when I began trying to receive validation for the things I buy, but now that I’m aware of it, it really changes things.
It doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy things or am never going to buy stuff I like or think is beautiful. I’m just more aware of the motivation behind purchases I make, and what’s behind my showing these things off to people. I think the more I’m able to love and accept myself as/is, the less I’ll need things like a Range Rover to make me feel ok.
What has been affirmed in you consistently throughout your life? Is it a gift, or a talent? What do you call out and encourage in the people around you?
(Sidenote: in no way am I suggesting if you drive a nice car, you’re trying to compensate for something. These are my own realizations for me and I make no judgement on anyone else… just please promise to let me borrow your sweet ride if you leave town.)