It’s 4 a.m. and I’m awake. That’s unfortunate, especially because I don’t have any John Green to keep me entertained.
But my last post involved a rant about therapy, and it occurred to me that maybe I have something to say about self-esteem, which I’m learning is something of a global — if not universal — epidemic. [NOTE: This isn’t a “rant,” really, but I wasn’t sure how else to categorize it. “Mushy sentimental middle-of-the-night blogging” isn’t a category.] I don’t know how useful this will be to anyone else, but considering the sheer volume of people who seem to struggle with this issue, it can hardly hurt, right?
Liking myself doesn’t come naturally to me. Some people are great at it, and I hate those people (I’m half-kidding), but I’ve always tended to land on the more self-conscious, “you’re an idiot and no one loves you” side of the tracks. And a couple of years ago I very reluctantly broke up with my only boyfriend, which, while probably the best thing that ever happened to me — never underestimate the value of being single for working out your emotional baggage — it also really sucked. I had a cheerleader constantly at the ready, and that’s not easy to let go of.
The problem is, boyfriends aren’t supposed to replace self-esteem.
That’s one of those things you hear a lot and sounds obvious, but never understand until you’ve bit the bullet and ended a relationship. It’s a little like cutting off your parachute and learning how to fly: at first you literally think you’re going to die (yes, literally. Breakups suck), but then you start to appreciate the view and get used to moving your metaphorical wings and then holy crap you’re flying!
I’m not exactly at the “flying” point yet, but I can see it up ahead, and this blog did a lot in getting me there.
Yeah, I know, it’s just a weekly post hating John Green (so far, until I move on to hating other people and things). Sometimes getting that post out feels more like a chore than a pleasure. And I’d like to make it clear now that blogging should never replace proper medication and therapy, both of which I strongly advocate if necessary.
But I think this was the first time I tried to be funny, to do what I love — nerding out over books and ranting — and have people like it. Sure, I’m no superblogger, but someone other than my mom was listening to what I had to say and cared. It’s crazy what that’ll do for your self-regard.
Important thing to note, though: If you obsess over the number of comments and likes and whatever, STOP. You’re doing this for the wrong reasons. Focus on loving what you write about first, and consider the positive feedback a pleasant bonus. I wouldn’t stop writing about books if my tiny readership dried up tomorrow, because I love doing this too much.
But I’m not going to lie and say it isn’t nice to have other people love it too.
So, to try and keep some semblance of order and cohesion to this rant, the first thing blogging helped me with was taking time out of every week to create something I enjoy and am proud of, and the second is sharing that enjoyment with others.
#3? Take a look at that description up there. What’s all that about “discerning taste” and stuff? Sounds pretty arrogant, huh?
One of the most fun things about blogging — at least snarky criticism like I do — is that you have to create something of a character in order to be more than just an asshole making fun of people more successful than you. Which is why a very straightlaced church girl with low self-esteem became a self-congratulating narcissist driven to drink by terrible writing. It’s easier to make fun of other people if you start by making fun of yourself, and strangely, I’m best at making fun of myself by pretending I’m the most amazing person ever.
But somehow, despite the whole self-deprecation thing, constantly calling myself brilliant or beautiful or otherwise perfect actually helps me like myself more. A lot of blogs say that telling yourself what a great person you are will actually improve your self-esteem, and crazy as it might sound at first, it actually works, and if you’re the kind of person who feels stupid standing in front of a mirror and telling yourself how awesome you are, try telling it to a computer and a mostly-anonymous audience.
And do it ironically, like I do. Because really, everyone who says they’re doing something ironically is at least a little bit doing it sincerely, and there’s nothing wrong with sincerely thinking you’re super cool and everyone should love you.
You are super cool and everyone should love you. I love you.
You’ve probably also noticed that I take a billion selfies of myself and pepper them all over this blog. For the most part they’re jokes, but sometimes I throw them in to put a face to my snarking. A bit of the personal touch, you could say.
Even though all these pictures might look the same if you line them all up (sitting on my bed, in front of the computer, usually smiling and/or pointing at something, often with a drink in hand), each of them is special to me because, for the most part, each is a picture in which I actually like the way I look. If you’re criminally unphotogenic —
— sometimes it’s really hard to go through your Facebook photos and see all the pictures in which you’re laughing in an unflattering way, or making a weird face, or otherwise look like the ugliest slug-monster who ever slimed across the face of the earth. And friends, being the jerks they are, will upload these pictures because “it’s funny.”
But with pictures of yourself, you get to control the lighting, the angle (I have a very particular way of balancing the laptop on my knees so I have as few chins as possible), and your expression, and you can tinker with it until you’re perfectly happy. And that kind of luxury leads to pictures where you can cock your head to the side and say, “You know what? That doesn’t look half-bad.”
Sometimes it even evolves into thinking you look good. And in a world where less than 5% of women think they’re beautiful, having a nice little collection of pictures in which you actually like the way your face looks is huge.
People might say it’s arrogant, but people suck, so who cares? Show your beautiful face off to the world! And using the veil of comedy might make you more comfortable with baring pictures of yourself. It helped me, at least.
So . . . I guess that’s all I wanted to say. Plus I’m starting to get sleepy (hello, 5 a.m.!), so we might as well wrap things up and get back to blessing the world with our undivided attention.
1) Do things you love. It helps if it’s something tangible, too, like playing videogames (gamerscore!) or knitting (knitted thing!) or blogging (blog!), because there’s no better rebuttal to that inner voice that tells you you’re worthless than being able to point to a real thing and say, “I did that. If I hadn’t done anything, that wouldn’t exist.” We all have things to offer that no one else can.
2) Share it with people you trust. There is always someone who will value your work.
3) Tell yourself how great you are regularly, whether seriously or in jest. It’ll sound like total nonsense at first, but eventually — and without you noticing — it’ll start to feel true.
4) Take pictures of yourself. It’ll make you more comfortable with your face/body and you’ll have a cache of evidence to your hotness.
I hope that helped someone other than myself (but if it didn’t, oh well. I enjoyed writing it!). Time to get some rest.