Saturday, March 7, 2015

Low Self-Esteem

The one time in my life I can ever remember not only agreeing with George Will, but actually shouting in acclamation at the TV at something he said, was during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. He said something along the lines of, “They say she has low self-esteem, but if anybody ever had more self-esteem than they have earned, it is Monica Lewisnky.”

One of the more stunning (and I mean that in the literal, brain-numbing sense of the term) effects of low self-esteem is that *everything* becomes about the sufferer. They are so wildly and giddily unimportant to the world, that the world positively revolves around the void. They ostentatiously and melodramatically observe their unimportance, enshrined as it is in the hearts of every person they’ve ever met. They refer to it and nothing else in any conversation, and occasionally crop up “surreptitiously” in order to ask whether their unimportance has been noted and catalogued for a random day. They go away so they can eat worms, and then React to every possible imagined hint that their absence has exacerbated the notice of others, to their unimportant detriment.

If the sufferer has an object of romantic interest, unrequited is best. That way, they can assume the extremely over-acted skittishness they display with such ostentation every time they chance to be exposed to the beloved has caused her or him to loathe the sufferer.

If the sufferer has a friend, they have the boon of a sympathetic ear to listen to the minutest and most extensive questioning regarding their every imagined shortcoming and failure – with the extra bonus round of reassurance, all of which will simultaneously confirm the sufferer’s utter centrality to the universe itself, by virtue of time and (insert giddy sigh here) attention, and have no effect whatever on the actual problem. The actual problem being, the sufferer is insufferABLE, thanks to this monomaniacal religion of self-doubt, to which all must pay homage and worship.

Another unfortunate effect of low self-esteem is that it sucks people into the vortex of this all-powerful unimportance. The void is one of personality and pleasantness, unfortunately – and yet, any soul with the slightest compassion is at risk of being bonded to the void, merely by “being there” even only once. The void knows how to attract pity and attention, and placating the void is the ultimate pitfall. Having succumbed to the impulse, the sufferer of low self-esteem will do all he or she can to exploit it and trap passersby, ultimately using this vacuum of personality and pleasantness to suck in any chance pity and attention, with the aim of transforming it into inextricable bonds.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever found yourself with a significant other in this way.

I thought so.

Ever work with one? The person about-to-be-fired every hour of every day? The one you have to escape with increasingly repetitive ruses that “I think my phone is ringing” or “Oh! Meeting in five mintues!” or the rhetorical throwing-up-of-hands that is “gosh, I wish I could say something useful” or, when turning around and typing even while they’re still looming at you, instant-messaging someone to please save you. And then pretending you just got called … um … over THERE. Somewhere. Else. Where you can’t be followed, gosh, sorry, coz it’s about that confidential, um, stuff, we’re doing. Bye.

The amount of mind time humanity is forced to spend on the terminally unimportant is staggering. We staunch the fatal flow of self-esteem with niceties, vague friendly gestures, or the dread night out with drinks, yet still the hemorrhage is unending – yet the sufferer never dies.

The true pain of it is that the empty fulcrum of the universe, sometimes, is actually attached to someone you want to like – if only it were possible to get past their overwhelming unimportance and awfulness. Sometimes, it’s possible to see the heart beyond the bleeding wound, and to honestly wish you could staunch it. Sometimes you’re just with someone so much, or related to them, or honestly think they are redeemable, and can’t give up hoping.

The only cure for low self-esteem, of course, is healthy self-esteem. And who needs that? That places perspective on a person accustomed to the conundrum of being the most important thing in the world, by virtue (hah) of being the worst thing in it. Perspective is for boring people, people who don’t get attention, people who go through life without DRAMA and excitement – oh, and attention. Mmm, attention.

So it’s little wonder, every now and then, those swirling a vortex have happy dreams of providing some sufferer the singular attention of a sledge to the brainpan (specifically aimed at the mouth). Ah, sweet dreams.

Thank goodness for puppies and kittens. And weekends all our own.

People. Can’t live with ‘em. Can’t punch them in the neck and live without ‘em.

1 comment:

Colin Smith said...

I've often found those with low self esteem can be the most self-absorbed.

True humility is not thinking less of oneself. It's not considering oneself at all.