This Is Why We Have Low Self-Esteem

Courtney Carmody
Courtney Carmody

“Nothing is perfect.” It’s an age-old quote with which we’re all familiar. Despite having heard these words so many times, however, we continue to strive for what we know we cannot achieve: perfection.

In every aspect of our lives we aim to eliminate those natural things we’ve come to call flaws: messes, wrinkles, fat. When we’re living in a world that celebrates perfection – a concept that doesn’t even really exist, that cannot be achieved –we’re aboard a train that will inevitably lead us to crippled self worth.

It starts at a young age. We try to tame our children (as our parents tamed us); we try to stop them from making messes all over the house, from drawing outside of the lines. We pin down their hair and shove them in nice clothing. We scrub dirt from their surfaces and bark at them for having gotten so dirty in the first place. Those childish tendencies, as natural as they are, are considered undesirable, things that must be halted. We yell and spank until we’ve sufficiently chased away those wild and creative behaviors. “Stop being you,” is the message we send. “You need to be better than this.”

It stays with us forever. We try to look as “put together” as possible, investing in branded, expensive clothes, fancy cars and beautiful homes. We put most of our money into purchasing those things that will make us the most “acceptable” amongst our peers. Creativity and individuality, as much as we claim to appreciate them, are two traits we’ve learned to fear, choosing instead to be “normal.” Without this normalcy, without falling into line with the masses, we will be flawed or weird or worse.

We use dry cleaning, hairspray and wax – just a few of our many tools used to limit the unruly, disgusting “woke up like this” appearance. The goal is to wipe away the natural and replace it with the manmade, the synthetic, the “perfect.”

Don’t we see we’re chasing something we can never catch? We’re exhausting ourselves, blaming ourselves for what we cannot control. We’ve been set up for failure and yet we continue to prioritize the mission. It’s no wonder, therefore, why our self-esteems are battered and suffering.

How are we supposed to take pride in ourselves when we’re plagued with a constant feeling of inadequacy? In order to truly love ourselves, we must do away with the desire for perfection. It’s a hard thing to shake considering we’ve been taught to strive for it all of our lives. But we can do it.

This is how: stop placing importance upon the opinions of others. Their words have strength only if you give it to them. Until you can shut out those sources, those outlets telling you how to live and how to be your best self, you cannot do either of those things. So cut naysayers from your life. Take away their seats, opening spots for supporters, lovers and sources of inspiration.

You must distinguish between those things you do to make yourself happy and those things you do to make others happy. Sever the latter from your life, deal with the consequences, and move on accordingly.

Finally, find beauty in your imperfections. Embrace your unique qualities, the ones that add flavor to an otherwise dull, robotic and undesirable life. Because who needs perfect? When you break apart the concept and lay out all the pieces, that’s just what perfection is: dull, robotic and undesirable.

It’s not worth our anguish, and we need to stop chasing it. For our sakes and the sakes of all those to come: let’s choose to love ourselves as we are, not as we’re told we should be.TC mark

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