(This piece appears in a French translation for Nunuche, volume 2.)
E ARE NOT going to waste one second of your not-so-precious time with phony advice about how to improve your self image. If you've already got low self esteem, we wouldn't dream of touching what nature and a dysfunctional family so generously provided! But before we go on, just take our little test to be sure you're not burdened with self esteem.
Please answer Yes or No to the following five simple statements:
1. I brush my teeth in the morning before leaving the house.
2. I leave the house.
3. I get up in the morning.
4. I own a toothbrush.
5. I deserve teeth.
If you answered No to three or more statements, congratulations! You have little to no self esteem!!
Although we could focus on the negative aspects of low self esteem, why retread ground you've got so well covered? There are actually so many plusses to this under-appreciated condition that you may find yourself feeling, how shall we say, almost good about yourself, albeit in the appropriate self-flagellating, miserable way.
For example, if you are currently single you'll save gobs of money staying home, freed from all those pesky date nights and the expense of paying both your tabs as you explain to him why you're not worth it. Just think: If you ever get around to getting that kitchen sink fixed, you'll actually have the cash to do it! We know you'll want to postpone the repair until the city is forced to take care of it, like they did when you let your lawn go to hell, but we're just saying.
Speaking of money, you're a one-woman savings bank since you don't buy clothes, because really, why bother? Ditto for the hair salon and the makeup and shoe departments. You may be known by your neighbors as "that Plain Jane down the street with the overgrown lawn and stinky sink," but your retirement nest egg tells a different story: "There goes that Plain Jane with untold sums of cash she didn't waste on her way to financial independence!"
You may have noticed by now that money isn't all you've got in surplus. Yes, time is in abundance. Hours and hours of it. No, that's a good thing! People are forever moaning, "I'm strapped for time," "I wish I had more time," "Where did the time go?" Whereas you can say, if not exactly with pride (Pride: "1: the quality or state of being proud, as a: inordinate self esteem") then at least with conviction, "I've got lots of time, and I know exactly where it's going!" Such a good thing!
As you can see, maintaining low self esteem is a full-time job. Naturally gifted as you may be, there are always going to be pitfalls in even the frumpiest path to self hatred.
For example, you may now and then risk fleeting bouts of self esteem as you count your money or use your free time to begin work on a successful novel. Just try to remain strong and remember our Happy Woman promise: It will not last! Before you know it, you'll be back to your old self again, doubting your abilities and mentally lashing yourself for ever thinking you could actually amount to anything. You know the traditional saying, "Old habits die hard"? That is so true!
On the rare occasion, women with low self esteem have found themselves feeling better than dowdy and horrible without being able to shake free of it. And so we must, as a responsible publication, include this warning:
If you experience self esteem lasting more than four hours, immediately seek professional help.
© 2009 Kate Heidel