The Self Esteem Battle
So, I haven’t written in a while. There is a reason for that. Haven’t had an ounce of time. I started a new job which entails a fairly long commute (but it’s a good job and I like what I’m doing so you take the good with the bad), and of course the holiday season has been upon us. Like a plague.
However I haven’t forgotten you people out here who read me and I’ve been thinking about what to write lately.
So I recently got back in touch with a friend of mine from many years ago. A wonderful lady who had a strong impact on me growing up. And apparently I had a pretty significant impact on her as well, so fair is fair.
We were talking not to long ago and she mentioned that she felt she had self esteem issues. Hmmm. Well, honestly in today’s society that is not to uncommon a problem. We are continuously inundated with messages about our relative value, attractiveness, intelligence, etc etc etc. Our news media spends more time focusing on the so called “beautiful people” than it does on the real issues of our day. Everywhere we look we are shown how someone else is more popular, more successful, more whatever, and so we mostly have a constant state of inferiority going.
Except for me.
Okay, so that is utter BS of course, but there are times when I am genuinely surprised by how often I am told by other people that I always seem to “have my shit together” as it were.
“You’re so smart.” “You’re so aware.” “You’re always in control of yourself.”
Okay, I’m a pretty smart guy. But I know tons of people who are just as smart or smarter than I am. I also know a ton of people who are dumb as rocks.
I’m aware because I’m always watching out for the next thing that is going to come along and bite me in the ass. I’m in control of myself because I’m absolutely terrified of looking and being scared. I’m even more terrified of losing control of myself because I know the terrible things in my head and how much I could hurt someone with them if I wasn’t careful.
And I’m scared. All the damn time. Why? What if I’m not good enough? What if I’m not successful, happy, ‘beautiful’, smart enough?
Ever since I can remember I have always been one of those people that has gravitated to the lost soul. Many of my friendships over the years started out as being the person who other people just opened up to, or being the person who saw a lost soul and actually took the time to ask “what’s wrong?”
I really don’t mind being this person. I like to help people. I like to listen to people. It makes me think that in my own small way I am helping to make the world a little better. (At one time I seriously considered going in to psychology and becoming a therapist.)
You know when you have one of those moments where the absolute perfect phrase comes out of your mouth, and it hits you so hard that just roll it around in your head for days? I had that happen. And the thing is, it’s not particularly profound on the surface. It may not even be particularly profound in it’s first few layers. But still I found it interesting enough to want to explore it.
Here it is: Self Esteem is not about who you are, it’s about who you want to be.
This is what got me thinking; I am not satisfied with me right now. I like who I want to be. That’s why I am always working on being a better me. The better me who is my goal is a moving target. Every time I make today’s me better, tomorrows me gets a boost. Tomorrows me raises the bar just a little bit.
It’s about the journey, not the destination.
However most people (myself included) tend to be stuck on who they are right at the moment. It’s a bit of a trap. When we take a blow to our self esteem, it’s a blow to who we are right now, not the person we are trying to be. The person we are right now isn’t good enough, whatever that means. But it’s the shield of who we want to be in the future that can be used to protect us, to support ourselves through the current onslaught.
You have to be able to recognize what is really happening. Is it really an attack on us or just someone else lashing out at us from their own insecurities. If it’s just someone lashing out then that’s their issue and we can shrug it off. If it’s a real issue for us then we need to understand the nature of it.
If it’s a real issue we have to understand that who we are today isn’t a finished product. Who we are today is simply the next step in our evolution. If we take responsibility for ourselves, for our evolution then who we are tomorrow won’t be the same person who took a hit to their self esteem today.
Confession time; I’ve taken a lot of hits to my self esteem recently. This time of year is hard on me for a lot of different reasons. And yes, my life is getting better. Finding a good job is a thing that goes a long way towards helping with that. Spending the coming year on several things for myself that I know make me happy will go a long way towards that as well.
I’ve already begun making plans. Not “resolutions”. Making plans.
Because who I am today is not who I want to be. Who I am tomorrow is going to be better because I am going to make it that way.