Thursday, July 9, 2009

In Search self esteem

I've been grappling with a lot of things lately - losses both personal and professional. And as I mourn them, I wonder how it is we hold onto to our self esteem in the face of our failures, be they real or imagined. I wonder how we are to hold on to our self worth with any certainty when we find ourselves falling short of the external things our society considers worthy of esteem. And how do you keep your head above water when people are just plain cruel and when you are maligned and can do nothing to stop it?

Most of us face one or more of these at some point in our lives, and celebrities face them all the time, and so I wonder how we build self esteem, the kind that can sustain us in the midst of all the trials and tribulations. I wonder particularly as an artist how we can remain open hearted, sensitive and compassionate enough to do our jobs while still letting the things meant to tear us down just roll off our backs. I have not found a way to do this. I have found ways to pick up the pieces and move forward, but I have not found the way not to feel chipped away at at my core.

I don't know if people in professions outside of the arts deal with this as regularly as those of us who create do, but at some point there has to be a conscious decision about what qualities are necessary for self esteem.

I was watching Michael Jackson's memorial service the other day, and I was struck by the enormity of emotions felt worldwide by his passing. And yet, this was not a man who had self esteem or he wouldn't have been so physically self destructive for so much of his life. So even being one of the biggest celebrities in the world, even having achieved fortune and fame, even having brought people together with his music, even being the most charitable celebrity in history, even with family and friends and money and a good heart he did not like himself. So what is it that gives you self esteem if not those things? Or maybe we're not supposed to have it. Maybe art cannot be created by souls who aren't tortured in some way. I don't know.

I'd like to believe that self esteem can come from figuring out what you consider to have value and living a life that exemplifies that. I think it's finding a way to know who you are and who you are not and staying true to that. I think self esteem comes from pushing yourself further than you think you can go so that you can delight in never really knowing how much you're capable of. It clearly doesn't come from what others think of you. No amount of accolades can convince me that I'm worth more than I think I am.

So as I go about my day, I am going to revisit what I think is of value - integrity, love, honesty, and decency, among others. I'm going to see if there isn't some way to acknowledge the ways in which I already embody those qualities, and maybe, just maybe like myself a little more.

Thanks for stopping by. And please take a moment to acknowledge yourself for all those things that make you feel good about yourself too.

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