PRIDE. It's a powerful emotion. Pride is an inwardly directed emotion that carries two antithetical meanings.
With a negative connotation pride refers to a foolishly and irrationally corrupt sense of one's personal value, status or accomplishments.
With a positive connotation, pride refers to a humble and content sense of attachment toward one's own or another's choices and actions, or toward a whole group of people, and is a product of praise, independent self-reflection, and a fulfilled feeling of belonging.
This past week I felt an immense sense of pride, but it was bittersweet.
Someone very special to me has made choices that have led him down an unconventional and difficult path. He chose to hang with a group of friends that were far from being a positive influence, which then led to more negative choices. After enduring six stints in jail before age 19, facing two felony charges (among many other misdemeanors), and deciding to drop out of high school, this individual has chosen to live a less-than-easy life.
Over the course of the last year, though, he has remained clean, maintained a full-time job, is successfully living on his own in a nice apartment he calls home, pays bills on time, renewed his driver's license after it was reinstated, bought a car and is insuring it, AND decided to adjust his work schedule to go back to high school to earn his diploma. After many long days, hours, and endless effort, a little less than one week before graduation day we were making the final plans for who would be attending the ceremony, we finalized our family celebration event, decided on the perfect outfit, and wrapped the gifts we couldn't wait to give.
On Monday, May 30, just three days before graduation, I received a dreaded and heart-wrenching call. He was arrested and currently residing in a holding cell.
Incredible fear. Intense anxiety. Too many questions to even imagine. What happened? How could this be possible? Is the agonizing whirlwind happening yet again?
Today is June 5, and unfortunately we know little more than we did on May 30. The charges are incredibly steep, but the proof is weak. I believe in his innocence and pray our judicial system leans in our favor. This week will offer many more answers.
I don't feel any less pride for him for attaining the milestone of graduating high school. In fact, it is that much more meaningful knowing the extra efforts that went into making it happen after dropping out. But I feel robbed of experiencing the joy and expressing the pride that was so deserving. He and I will never get that back. It is lost forever. Pride feels incredible when you are able to express it and enjoy it; yet it is tremendously painful when it is forced to be contained.
Whether feeling the powerful emotion of pride is positive or negative, I believe it is important to focus on what you can control. We all face obstacles, but it is our reaction to the tough stuff that we can control. How we choose to react will either lead us into a downward spiral of pain and sorrow, or lift us to a renewed sense of optimism. It is our choice.
After all...he did graduate--and even though he didn't get to be honored in the same way as others, he did ultimately accomplish his goal. But as with other tracks in life, this one was yet another that was unconventional. What's important to remember is that no one person paves the same path as anyone else. We each make choices that lead us down our path. I can only hope that his detour is short-lived and he can soon resume living his positive life.