What a week. Among other things, I unwillingly (not unwittingly) participated in an online forum discussion, because I could not keep my hands off the subject.
The forum was/is populated by professional people–all sorts of professions, even including writerly types such as myself. (…not considered to be “professional” by many suits. Ah, well.)
The particular forum topic–oh, I tried to stay away, for as long as I could–but the subject line asked us to agree with the posting person, who stated that people who believe in themselves–basically are tools. The question was couched in such a way that it was almost impossible to argue against the concept–and not look like a whiner.
But this notion, that people who “believe in themselves” somehow are broken–well, the statement was a tad vague. I needed to ask why, and the context. The posting person responded that Saturday Night Live did a skit recently, in which mindless people were reciting the mantra that they can do anything, that they believe in themselves–over and over again. One such man did so while doing calligraphy and Ceili dancing at the same time.
Apparently this was supposed to be funny–it’s always a good time to make fun of people whom you deem to be weird. Or different.
Or maybe–just maybe–you’re jealous of them. This, I believe, may be the situation with the person who posted. I say this because I asked what was wrong with people having self esteem, and belief in one’s ability to strive, to do, to succeed?
She responded that she “railed against people” who think they can do anything, without doing any of the hard work.
OK, now we were on to something. My first response was that I didn’t understand that concept of “rail[-ing] against” people we don’t know. I can see railing against a concept: it is perfectly legit, and cool, and needed–to rail against injustice. Or the -isms (racism, sexism, etc.) To rail against the idea of secretaries paying more taxes than billionaires.
All these bad things need to be the subject of railing-against.
But a person? A stranger? That someone–who, by her photo, looked to be tres professional, and very together–that someone should rail against people who have an affirmation, that they believe in themselves, and their ability to do anything to which they set their minds?
That, to me, sounds like outright jealousy. I’m guessing that anyone who would rail against a person simply because that person has the mind of a dreamer–is jealous because they don’t have the guts to dream. She may be a great worker bee, and that’s her thing–but her dreamlife may be lacking, sorely.
Yes, work is required in order to achieve anything worth having. But this woman kept reciting the need for “hard work,” when, in fact, it may not be very hard work for the person who has a goal that’s based on deep self-knowledge.
She cited that those who simply believe in themselves absolutely are not willing to do the “hard work” necessary.
That argument is ridiculous, on its face. Since this person doesn’t know everyone on the planet–it’s impossible for her to pronounce that anyone who believes in their ability to do anything is unwilling to do the (hard) work to achieve that thing. She doesn’t know that for sure–so for her to rail against people because she believes that she understands that they’re lazy slobs…this, to me, is beyond odd.
That this forum found a place on a website designed for professionals of all stripes is just plain weird, to me. This seems to be a personal issue: this woman may not be very secure in herself or her path–so she needed to try to rustle up some allies, people who similarly might sit back and laugh at the dreamers, those who say, “I can do anything to which I set my mind and heart.”
Well, here’s a shot of reality for you: it’s OK.
You may find yourself on the wrong end of the pink slip–you may have just lost your job. You may have been unemployed for a long time, and are at that point where you want to scream because every-other-person you know is calling, asking the seemingly-benign question,
“…Have you thought of…?”
You want to rip the phone out of the wall, and think that the questioner will feel the shockwave. They don’t know, or just-plain didn’t think, about the fact that they are the 100th person to ask that stupid question of you this week. And that, by the time they ask the question–you’re ready to give someone a good beat-down.
So here’s what you do. Ignore what everyone else says: about you, about your job search, about your future–unless their words are encouraging, uplifting and accurate.
You may choose not to answer the phone, or respond to emails. You may take a mini-vacation from technology,and from all the people who want to “help.”
And you absolutely must believe that this moment in time, this pain that you endure right now–is temporary. You must believe that you are wonderful, and intelligent, and creative, andworthy of respect.
The world dissed you, your employers dissed you–and in the corporate mindset–that is the pronunciation of Fact.
Well, here’s the Truth: the opinion of a former employer, a former HR director–anyone who would let you go, for whatever reason–their opinion is invalid, and cannot change the fact that your future can be as bright as you believe.
You don’t think that they allow their entire self esteems hang on your opinion of them, do you? Of course not–so why should you give a flying fig about their opinion of you?
That woman on that forum is wrong: people who believe in themselves, genuinely believe that they can do anything to which they set their minds–they/you/we/I–are the people on whom the world depends to show the way to mental health.
Self-belief, healthy self-esteem, is a good thing, not a bad thing.
Those with poor self esteem can be manipulated into doing anything–illegal, immoral or just plain stupid–by bosses, co-workers, former employers, spouses, friends–because they don’t believe that their opinion possibly could be right. The other person in the scenario always must be right–because, having no self-love–without self-esteem, we cannot imagine that it might be OK, desirable, even, for us to speak up.
Healthy self-esteem–believing in yourself–not only is OK, it’s essential for you to get through this rough time. Whether you’re newly-unemployed; unemployed for a long time; employed, but not making enough to make ends meet–whatever your situation, if it’s not what you desire–YOU have the ability to change it.
The next steps are yours, your Life is not in the control of some horrible person who doesn’t respect you–and therefore, who doesn’t deserve your respect.
The first step to changing the situation really does begin with believing in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself–no one else will. But never mind them–they’ll come along for the ride, or they won’t–but they don’t matter.
The stairway to your destiny is built of the materials that you bring to the party, and the most important material is you.
If you don’t believe in yourself–or even like yourself very much, right now, that’s OK. Start slowly, and build to a warm, glowing fire. Yes, you may need to do things like affirmations, saying in to the mirror at least once a day, “I believe in myself–I will survive this situation.” That may sound a little trite at the moment, but whatever words you choose–say something to yourself, at least once a day, while looking into your own eyes. The eyes are the windows of the soul–and that includes you. Gaze into your own eyes, and see your ancestors there. See all the love that they have for you. See all the work, and fighting, and Life that they went through–just so that you could exist, to live, to be happy–this day.
I may sound like a self-help wannabe today, but I believe with all my heart that every human deserves to be respected, and loved. If you’re not finding that in your workplace–leave that place, and find a job where you are respected. If you’ve lost your job, and are searching for your next job, your career, or even–gasp!–your vocation–please remember that you deserve respect. Respect from your next employer, respect from your next co-workers, respect from your family and friends.
And that first, in order to get the respect that you require–you have to respect yourself, and all the goodness that you bring to the world. You really can do anything to which you set your mind–contrary to what that woman wrote in that forum–you can, and you must, believe in yourself.
Acquiring your next job may be a long journey, but if you walk into every circumstance with your head held high, your heart honest and your intentions pure–the right situation will find you. It may take a while, but just like Love–the real thing is worth the wait. You are worth the wait–and the faith in self, that’s required to make your next job move a wonderful step.
It will be wonderful because you didn’t act out of desperation–desperation is the act of someone who doesn’t have a firm grasp on his/her self-esteem. Whether you call it self-esteem, belief in yourself or faith–look at you, look within, before you go back out into the scary world, looking for a job.
How you present yourself to the world depends entirely on who you saw in the mirror before you walked out your door. See that person. Believe in that person–now, dream big, as big as your self-belief will allow. It’s OK if others are jealous of your new-found self, or of all the grand things you achieve as the result. Your opinion of you is the one that matters.
If you believe in yourself, and you see your future through the lens of someone whose healthy self-esteem charts the course–”they” (You know, the nameless, faceless Others who are always being quoted?)–”they” cannot extinguish that fire, that warmth, that is uniquely You.