Well, we all know I have Issues.
I don't see myself as I am, and I certainly don't see myself as other people see me.
We also know that I'm a little too cynical to think the I'm ok, you're ok theory of self-esteem improvement actually works, most of the time. You can tell yourself you are lovable and capable as much as you want (or are forced to!) and it doesn't really help all that much. The best way, I've found, to gain self-esteem is to do those things that you think are worthy.
Sit down, look at those things you find admirable in other people. I'm not necessarily talking about Michael Jordan (don't we all wanna be like Mike?) but about the people in your life that you look up to and admire. Because we can't all be basketball players. (Even if Sulu would like that if we were...)
What are the people you admire like? Are they intelligent, witty, or generous? Be careful, while you examine these people: do you actually admire them, or are you jealous? Make a list of the things you admire in the people you've chosen... honest? Or tactful? Kind-hearted?
Now, sit down with your list of traits you find admirable. I admire people who are even-tempered, good with children, generous, determined, and mostly cheerful, with a good dash of sarcastic.
Here are the items you can work on; I admire people who are even-tempered. I... well, let's just say I won't win any awards for being calm in the face of aggravation.
But I can work on it! It's not possible, perhaps, to be perfect, but we can always, always find ways of improving. I'm learning - slowly, and with a great many set-backs - to calm down. To take a few deep breaths. To ask myself if this really matters in the grand scheme of things.
I admire people who go out of their way to make other people's lives better. I may not be wealthy, but I can give to charity. I'm an organ donor. I give blood regularly. I'm doing a 60-mile, 3-day walk in October to raise money for breast cancer awareness, screenings, research, and hopefully one day to find a cure. My daughter and I take trash bags out with us to the playground about once every 3 months and clean trash up in our neighborhood. I donate my gently used clothing and household items to the Salvation Army. I click here. And here. And here. And here. Every day.
Sometimes it helps to see yourself through someone else's eyes. It's not always easy; there's sometimes the nagging suspicion that someone is telling you what you want to hear... but when you get an honest opinion - or sometimes for me, it's even just seeing a list of my accomplishments; what does it look like to someone else...
Here's what some friends had to say about me recently... and the thing is... nothing here isn't true. It's just... wow, when you put it all together like that, maybe I am, actually, pretty damn nifty...
One of my best friends, Jeanne, sent this email out to her family and friends (who are not also my family and friends, since we do have a load of friends in common) and bcc'd me on it...
My best friend will be participating in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk for the Cure in Washington, DC in October.
That's a 60 mile walk for someone who was a half-a-pack-a-day smoker 12 years ago (until she quit cold turkey). Who was told after her ankle was shattered in a car wreck 8 years ago that she'd never walk again without a cane (today, she can step-run like Rocky Balboa). Who was in the "high-risk pregnancy" category 5 years ago because of weight-related complications and asthma (which she has since controlled). Who was borderline diabetic 2 years ago because of her weight (she joined Weight Watchers in Jan. 2008 and has lost over 80 pounds to date; her husband, who joined to support her, has lost over 90).
She has a beautiful 5-year-old daughter, and a close family history of breast cancer-- both her aunt and her grandmother were survivors. Her mother's breast cancer diagnosis in late 2007 was her personal wake-up call to improve her life and her health, for her own good and that of her family. Now she's done it, and in October, she means to give back in her mother's honor. She's up to walking 18 miles on the weekend, and she's working out extensively during the week to prep for the Walk.
Unfortunately, unlike a standard walk-a-thon where you simply raise as much as you can, the Susan G. Komen Foundation sets a minimum fundraising goal of $2300 that you must meet in order to be allowed to walk in the 3-Day (any donations short of the goal will still be accepted). She is only about halfway to her goal. She's an amazing person, it's a great cause, and she really, really wants to be able to walk.
It does sound sort of impressive, doesn't it? When you lump it all together like that. I tend to see things all microscopic. I have problems - doesn't everyone? - but my problems are like a bunch of tiny rocks. If I hold them in my hand and put them out at arm's length, they look fairly minor. But I don't. I bring them up close to my face and study them. I know them intimately. Try it. Take a small rock, less than an inch across, and hold it up as close to your eye as you can (and still be able to focus on the rock! Don't poke your eye out!) Now, you can see the rock really well, right? But the problem here is that you can't see much aside from the rock. The rest of your life is blurry, out of focus, and blocked off because you're looking too closely at a stupid, little rock.
One of the people I admire (and, I confess, am somewhat jealous of) had this to say to me recently:
I chuckle every time I think what the "college Lynn" would say if she saw you now. It is silly to say that you make me proud as I have nothing to do with any of the things you have done. Yet your hard work has inspired me to work on making things better for me. Good luck on your walk!How nifty is that? Someone that I admire is admiring me right back... interesting.
I may not be where I want to be, and I may not yet be who I want to be. Neither am I who I was, and neither am I incapable of change.
Perfection and true happiness may be unattainable (and I reserve the right to doubt) but we can always improve, we can always become better, and we can always be happier.
I think these are things worth striving for.
And I think, sometimes, I need to sit down and look over just how far I've come.