So, I was on Facebook the other night reading all of your stati (if we’re Facebook friends, b-t-dubs, you’re in; I am very selective. I’m serious.), and I scrolled to see a friend’s status imploring her female constituents not to put up with any man who does not show her the respect she deserves. It wasn’t one of those tired, repost-if-you-agree situations, it was a necessary-rock-bottom ah-ha moment that puked itself out in the form of an all-call Wall post. It went something like this, and I quote:
“Emotional abuse is heart and soul mutilation. Fuckface of a Boyfriend*, eff you for ruining my self-esteem and kicking me when I’m down. Friends- mental abuse is worse than physical abuse because you can’t see the bruises on the inside. Pray for those not yet strong enough to leave. It’s a vicious cycle. Even strong willed, optimistic people stay. That’s my wish for all- love yourself first, last, and always :)”
Ladies, I think it’s high time we talk about self-worth versus self-esteem. And how the confusion, and/or mutual exclusion of the two, or the misappropriation of time spent on one over the other can lead to destruction of your heart. I will not have that. Not on my watch. This is one of those situations where it’s, like, if you refuse to acknowledge what I am presenting to you, then I’m obviously trying to reason with an unreasonable person; but if you’re with me and you get what I’m trying to say, then I beg you to hear me out and trust that my logic is empirical. I don’t ever say anything to any one of you Ladies lightly. And while I do, indeed, love to hear myself talk, I promise you I’m talking from a place of experience where I humbly suggest pain begets wisdom. My worst feeling ever is when I hear women beat themselves up, or try to come to terms with perceived feelings of inadequacy. It, literally, breaks my heart. It’s not avoidable, but it’s manageable and preventable. It requires maturity, very often a wound and very unfortunately, a rock bottom. I’d ask that I be allowed to save you some trouble.
Consider these two to be the Angel (self-worth) and the Devil (self-esteem) on your shoulders. Self-esteem is a usually-negative lifelong struggle all women are faced with; it’s completely self-catalytic, it comes from within, and it’s recognized, embraced, diminished, and/or perpetuated by YOU. Self-esteem is kind of like jealousy, which I consider to our most counterproductive and useless emotion. It won’t get you anywhere, it thrives on self-doubt, it doesn’t accomplish anything, it’s all in your head, and if it’s your weakness, that’s because you allow something that’s self-calibrated to control your life. Low self-esteem, as its name would suggest, is completely self-centered. Self-centered has a mission to kill, so losing sight of, or failing to recognize your self-worth allows the little Devil to sneak in, take a seat and beg your ear.
Self-worth is an understanding that comes from logic, it’s a thing we’re all born with—like lungs and blood. Whether we choose to recognize it or not, self-worth is a grace afforded to all of us. It’s very straight-forward, very black and white, and, once realized, can be the most freeing, ah-ha moment any of us has.
As women, we spend a phenomenal amount of our lives putting ourselves down, comparing ourselves to others; we determine our place in society based on how many friends we have, how much we weigh, what we wear, how many men we’ve bedded, how many people come to our parties or text us during the day—or night. We decide we’re not good enough because of what other people think of us. We wake up every morning praying that today, we’re gonna win ‘em over! Our attitude, outlook, emotional state and physical presentation is solely dependent on what we think other people think of us. Our self-esteem, or lack thereof, is a direct result of what and who we allow to matter, and we reach a point where it’s decided that everyone matters but ourselves. Hey, guess what and who matters?: No one else. The only thing that ever matters ever, ever, ever in determining how we are to be treated and with what level of respect, is our self-worth. And luckily for every single one of us, this is a gimme; an immeasurable amount of self-worth is a God-given birthright. I’ve always had low self-esteem. I’m a girl. It’s just one of those things. It’s not crippling, and I know how unreasonable it is, but it’s just kinda always there. The Devil on my shoulder. Most of us dip into the negative numbers, whether we care to admit it or not, for the better part of our cognitive lives. When we have low self-esteem, we feel worthless, and when we feel worthless, we further shrink. The things we justify to make ourselves feel better/safe/free/responsible are, in reality, destructive and ‘round and ‘round it goes. Bad choices are like steroids for low self-esteem. Get off the juice. Take the power away from self-esteem and put every single cent of it in understanding your self-worth. Self. Worth. Here’s a fun fact about our new friend, S-Dub: We’re all born with more of it than we’d ever know what to do with. Consider being You an honor, because that was certainly the intention. Not because you are the most amazing person who ever lived, but because as it happens, you are beautifully and wonderfully made. Whether you like it or not. You are the exact execution of a very precise design that could, and will, never again be replicated. And it’s not that we should all be so lucky; it’s that we are all so very lucky.
Layman’s terms: Gold bars. Yes, as in, the kinds in cartoons and old heist movies. Gold bars. Like, who cares? What on EARTH am I supposed to do with a gold bar? If someone said “so, do you want cash or a gold bar?”, I’d say cash. Mama likes the liquid kitty, you know this. If I have a gold bar, I have to try and lift it, then find a bank that would even know what to do with it, then I’d have to sell it or, like, melt it down, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. But the fact of the matter is, independent of what I think or what other people think, gold bars are worth a fortune. Just as-is; they were born that way. If someone says “I have gold bars” then you understand that they have something that is now, and forever will be, worth something; further, that person is baller. Gold has weight, it has staying power, it’s recognized around the world, in every circle, under every currency, unequivocally and empirically, like…ready?…”the gold standard.” It even has its own slogan. But the common man wants cash—it’s easy, it’s universally liked and accepted, it’s immediate, and it makes you feel rich and good about yourself to have it in your hot little hands. Self-esteem is like cash. It’s expendable. It’s fickle. It’s fleeting. In every area of life—every single area of your life—you need to go for stability. Gold is stable. When it comes to how you will allow other people to treat you, how you will treat yourself, how you will teach your children to expect and want to be treated, you need to understand that a baseline—that stability—needs to be achieved. It’s a good idea to make that baseline your self-worth, as you’ll remember, that’s got incredible value. It doesn’t get to dip below that. Neither you, nor an outside force can recalibrate your level of worth; and most certainly and importantly, you are never to believe one who tells you that you are less than this baseline; never to believe one who makes you feel like you should be less than your baseline; or one who implies that others surpass your baseline.
It IS that easy, too. It just is. We’re pickier about the food we eat than the people we allow to affect our lives. Stand up for yourself. Set your boundaries and enforce them. Make decisions. Get angry. Look at yourself from across the room. Pretend your daughter is coming to you with this stumbling block. Be objective about something that isn’t based in emotion. Yellow is yellow, pink is pink, Tuesday is always after Monday. Some things just are. Your value is a lock. You are lovely. You may be broken, you may be trapped, you may be trouble or maybe you’re just stubborn, but you will always be of incredible value and value has power. Puhlease don’t waste your time trying to argue with me. I’m right on this one. You heard me.
*Not his real name.
Some things are just perfect.