Living the Middle Life

In soviet Russia, the middle life is living.

Monday, April 27, 2009


I have a paper due in 12 hours that I’m only half don with. And it’s past midnight. So I thought I’d write a blog post.

What about self-esteem?

Growing up, our family never held a high view of this “self-esteem” idea. Why should we have a high esteem for ourselves? Are we really that great? Surely not. We are miserable sinners; we aren’t that great. Isn’t it wrong to think of ourselves as better than we are? That’s a whole load of overconfident bologna.

Worst part is that society loves to push it. They love to talk about how this self-centered view of the world is a good thing. They love to talk about how it’s good to be arrogant. They love to talk about how it’s desirable to cling to a self-image that is false.

It’s just a dumb, dumb, dumb thing.

But I don’t know.

Certainly it’s bad to be over-confident, but isn’t it good to be confident? There are insecure people in the world. I talk to them all the time. There are two aspects about them that I see most. They always talk about themselves, and they avoid anything and everyone that make them seem inadequate.

They talk about themselves because other people wont. They brag about what they can do, their impressive collections, or their cool friends. You know, the ones that you never met, so they’re my friend, only my friend, and not yours, so their coolness rubs off on me, and not on you. They’ll do anything for attention. (They’ll even do all those dorky moves on the dance floor at weddings, just so people will look at them.)

If they had a little confidence, if they had a little self-esteem, they wouldn’t feel so insecure. They would understand, not that they are great, so why worry, but that everything is okay. They’ll be able to focus on other people. The other people will appreciate not having every conversation hijacked to talk about how Bob is such an authority (or whatever) and they’ll want to be Bob’s friend.

Well, they’ll want to be his friend so long as he doesn’t threaten them. To be more accurate, so long as they don’t perceive him as a threat.

This could take any form really. They might think Bob is better at sports, or maybe Bob is more popular, or many he’s more hansom. Whatever it is, they must think the person is better than themselves at something they think is their specialty.

“Max is getting a better biology grade than me! That can’t be, I’m a Bio major, and he’s a dumb jock.” “She can’t get that role in the play! I always play the lead! She’s only a freshman.”

They’ll deny, or make excuses about facts. “I was sick, I wasn’t running at my full speed, etc.” They avoid reality; they avoid anything or anyone that makes them seem inadequate.

If these people had a little self-esteem, they wouldn’t be so obnoxious. If they had self-esteem, they wouldn’t have to try so hard to prop themselves up, and would be able to focus more on others. Having some self-esteem would make them self-less, not self-centered.

They need to know that it’s all cool.


  • At 9:12 AM, Blogger Rachel D said…

    The problem here is that you are saying confidence and self-esteem are the same thing. They're not. There is nothing wrong with being confident about the things that you do; the problem is when you are arrogant and brag and think you're great. That's self-esteem. Confidence is when you realize that God has given you the ability to do what it is that you wish to do, and so you believe you can. Self-esteem is when you think that you are so amazing that you can do whatever you want, just because you are you.

    If that makes sense.

    I just woke up, my mind is mush. :P

  • At 9:15 AM, Blogger Susan said…

    I doubt you remember, but it made a big impression on me. I was in charge of the workshop at WPA conference on Homeschooling Preschoolers. I was supposed to talk about the importance of self-esteem. (You're laughing now, right?)

    As I read and studied, I discovered that self-esteem is not actually what we in America now consider self-esteem to be. Self-esteem (when it originally came into the psychological jargon) was about knowing that your efforts made a difference. In other words, if I work hard, I can learn this. Or if I practice piano, I will get better. Or if I do something nice for the neighbor, I can cheer him up.

    Self-esteem doesn't actually have anything to do with what I think about myself. Self-esteem means that when my computer is broken, I can read what I need to read, ask the questions I need to ask, follow the steps, and resolve the problem.

    And I think that's what gets us outside ourselves. We pay attention to the other person, or pay attention to the work at hand, and that's what gets our attention off ourselves -- there's something to do or somebody to help or love. We have actually have more self-esteem when we're not paying attention to self-esteem.

    How's that for paradoxical? It's kinda sorta like wanting to have The Best Christmas Ever, and trying so hard to make it memorable and fun that you can't have fun because of the navel-gazing.

    "Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who ... made Himself of no reputation ..." to save us. (Philippians 2)

  • At 9:19 AM, Blogger Susan said…

    Uh-oh, ... the mom is still blabbing...

    I take back (in part) what I said about self-esteem not having anything to do with what I think about myself. I read what Rachel wrote, and she's right. It is good when "what we think about ourselves" includes confidence that we can change some things -- whether it's getting through the college class or helping your new roommate feel comfortable on campus.


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