With each passing year, I’ve noticed a growing inclination among young people to reject judgment of themselves and their actions, as well as accountability. When someone is performing poorly in school, it’s not their fault, it’s the American education system’s fault. When someone becomes addicted to drugs, it’s not their fault; it’s society’s fault. When someone is overweight and out of shape, it’s not their fault it’s the unrealistic beauty standards’ fault.
I’m not saying that there isn’t validity in any of the points people make, but more often than not, I find that these points are thinly veiled excuses for justifying and normalizing mediocrity. Why hold yourself to any sort of standard when it’s so much easier to point a finger and continue living a life of self indulgence?
A lot of people from all walks of life- from the rich to the poor to the black to the white to the old to the young- struggle with insecurity. Whether they don’t feel beautiful enough, accomplished enough or competent enough, being haunted by thoughts of inadequacy is probably one of the most universal, human struggles. It’s so normal to doubt yourself that people are generally confused, and sometimes even offended, when they encounter genuine, unapologetic confidence.
I don’t think there’s anything more backwards than the way some people demonize self esteem. People should love themselves, and while the acceptance of others isn’t something that I think people should strive for, no one should feel the need to belittle themselves in the name of acceptance.
I notice more and more people, especially of my generation, abandoning this train of thought, and while their hearts may be in the right place, I think their methods and logic are equal parts flawed. They encourage you to do whatever you want whenever you want because society is wrong and everyone is smart and beautiful and perfect just the way they are and deserving of the same things, which quite frankly couldn’t be further from the truth.
In the words of Condoleezza Rice, self esteem comes from achievement; not from lax standards and false praise. Doing what you want when you feel like it isn’t an achievement, and should not be applauded as one. I understand the instant gratification that comes from giving into temptation, but that feeling is fleeting. What lasts is the satisfaction of knowing you made the choice best for you in the long run. What lasts is the feeling of choosing salad over pizza, the gym over a nap, saving over splurging, and homework over netflix.
I want everyone to find happiness within themselves, but any happiness found through this lazy, delusional philosophy will not only be meaningless and temporary, but will ultimately do more harm than good. Be confident in the best person you can be, and the steps you take to become that person.