Self-Worth: An Innate Gift
To possess true, unwavering happiness, your self-worth must be innate. The amount you choose to love and accept yourself should never be dependent upon extrinsic factors such as test scores or winning competitions or college acceptances or anything other than what you genuinely deserve for that matter. The quickest way to drain yourself of self-worth is to try to find it through the eyes of others. The best way to ensure that your supply of worth remains infinite, however, is to remember that, despite the number of times you may stumble or fail, you are worthy. Despite the disappointments that are thrown your way, you deserve your own dearest affection.
I often fall deep into the trap of feeling good about myself only when I succeed at the things I pour my heart and soul into, such as school, writing, piano, and photography. This extremely unstable guise of self-love, threatening to completely topple over and self-immolate at any moment, is lethal soil that long-lasting worth is unable to bloom from. The problem is that although I may support my emotional well-being at times, the second I receive a poor grade on an exam or mess up while I am playing my latest piece, I become my own greatest bully, mentally screaming insults such as, “You are the biggest failure ever!” or “Why can’t you ever do anything right?” This is no way to live, constantly anticipating a war to erupt in your mind, waiting for the next act of imperfection to completely erase your beautifully painted canvas of self-worth.
So, what is the solution? How can we learn to love ourselves unconditionally, under not only the sunniest of skies, but the darkest of storms? How can we wake up and realize that we, at our very core, are beings that are not only capable of love, but deserve to be loved? How can we open our eyes to see ourselves for who we truly are—amazing, inspiring, selfless spirits?
The first step towards creating innate self-worth is to let go of the need for specific outcomes, no matter how impossible that may seem. We must let go of the unattainable expectation to be perfect 24/7, because we will only end up disappointing ourselves. Life happens, and it is messy. We mess up because we are human. Setbacks are inevitable components of our journey. Yet, by continually obsessing over our shortcomings, how can we ever move forward? We can’t. And as absurd as it sounds, there is a beauty in messing up, for it makes us aware of what needs fixing. Without self-worth, our messes will remain messes, unable to be cleaned, tackled, and forgotten.
In addition, instead of emphasizing our flaws, we must take time every day to consciously acknowledge our strengths, to give ourselves “mental pats on the back.” Take 5 seconds out of your day to appreciate how far you have come instead of abusing yourself by focusing only on how far you have left to go. Just like how you need to express gratitude to maintain friendships, you need to express your emotions to yourself once in a while.
In the end, you can be your own worst-critic or your own best friend. The choice is yours.