fear, loathing and self esteem
fear, loathing and self esteem
I laid in bed last night thinking not about the usual things like money and death and how much I want a cigarette. I was thinking about my self-image, which goes hand in hand with self-esteem.
Do you ever wonder how people see you? If what you see when you look in the mirror is what everyone else sees? If what you see when you look in your soul is at all in tune with how others see that part of you?
We are reflections of so many things; how we dress, how we talk, our family, our schooling, our jobs, our accents, the car we drive, the music we listen to. We are lumped and categorized and labeled until perhaps we happen to believe the label ourselves, no matter if somewhere inside, we know it is the wrong one. We become what others imagine us to be.
Esteem and image are such arbitrary things. You can have a great self-worth one day, and then an offhand comment meant as a joke can send you reeling to a place where it is hard to get up from. People pick away at the skin of your image and they don't even realize they are doing it. What some people view as jest or humor can be deadly blows to the esteem of people with fragile egos.
It's easy to come off as if you have a big ego. As if your self-image and esteem are intact and running high. A few well-chosen words or outfits and you can almost feel for that moment as if you are not living a lie. Who will know that when you go home and are in the privacy of your dark bedroom that you loathe yourself and your body and your very own soul? It's easy to ride the crest of high self worth when one hundred people tell you that you are beautiful, but when that one person you admire points out one of your flaws, all those compliments cannot hold you up as you falter.
Our egos and self identities are fragile systems. They are held together with tape and glue and string and all it takes is for one person to comment on your dress, your hair, your project or your attitude in general - just one person, one tiny comment - and it all breaks apart so easily. Then you stand in front of the mirror, stripped naked and sobbing, wondering what it is that people see in you anyhow. Wondering if anyone really sees what's in there or if they are just scratching your surface and being content with that. Wondering if you can keep up with the image others have set for you, knowing full well that most of that image is kept up with smoke and mirrors and something up your sleeve.
You really have no way of knowing what lies deep inside of a person's heart. You don't know what thoughts are behind the ones they actually speak, what past actions guide their present words, what they really honestly see when they look at themselves. You don't reallly know unless you ask. Unless you take a friendship or a relationship and go beyond the skin and into the soul to find out. Do you think anyone is really the exact way that you see them? Do you think that everyone you know who comes off as strong and capable and smart and sexy really thinks that about themselves? Or do they go home at night and think about that one slight, that one remark, that will make them feel worthless and empty?
It takes years to build up your image and esteem to the point where the your inner sense of worth meets your outer sense. Where what people see and what you actually are form into one, where you are so comfortable in your own skin that you can't imagine wearing anything else. And all it takes is one instance, one phrase, one time being told you aren't good enough/pretty enough/thin enough/smart enough. One time to erode a lifetime worth of praise.
Don't be one of those image-crushing people. Don't be the kind of person who never stops to think about the consequences of their words. Or worse, the kind of person who doesn't care. I understand some people trample on the egos of others to make themselves feel bigger and stronger and better. And no matter how low I get, no matter how far my self image sinks, I would rather be me than be the person who broke me. I can live with myself. Can you?