Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Series: What Do You Do When You Never Feel Good Enough? (Part Three)

If you missed part two, read it here.

The Root

I do believe our environment determines what our reality is. It defines what is normal  and colours our perception and interpretation of the world around us. If you grow up in an environment where men eat their fellow men, you grow up to see it as a normal practice even if the rest of the world frowns at the culture. We were all born everything-blind, our prejudices about life, race, religion and culture are acquired over the course of our lives, influenced primarily by our immediate environment and then of course secondary sources like the media.

So, if you grow up in an environment that amplifies your weaknesses and shortcomings, you’ll tend to concentrate on those yourself. If it’s the norm in your environment that women should be married at 25, you begin to panic at 24. If anything above a size 12 is seen as fat, then you feel fat if you’re a size 14. If it’s shameful to be divorced, then you’ll rather die than end your marriage. If rape leads to stigma, you’ll never say a word, even if you are raped by a thousand men. Environment, culture, traditions, doctrines; they define what is proper and what isn’t, what is normal and what isn’t, what is acceptable or abominable. And without meaning to, we live our lives trying to conform to the rules.

While there is nothing wrong with rules, standards and benchmarks, they are fundamentally flawed because they do not take into cognizance your natural abilities or the challenges you have to deal with to get from point A to B.

Your brother came first in class, so you have no excuse, that’s what your parents tell you. So you study twice as hard but never feel good enough ‘cos the most you can do is 7th. And though you have a flair for music that your brother doesn’t, no one seems to notice and neither do you. The lady on the cover of the magazine has been photoshopped to perfection. Though there are some who look like she does, their figure is more genes than diet and exercise. Of course no one tells you that, so you starve yourself to death drinking only green tea and eating one carrot per day. Despite your best efforts, the most you’ve lost is 2kg. You look in the mirror and feel like a failure. You fail to realize that 10 generations before you have looked the same way you do.

Understand this, the power of low self-esteem lies in comparison. It looses its stranglehold the moment you stop comparing. If you were left alone to live your life, this blog post will not exist ‘cos there will be no need. The only time we begin to feel inadequate is when we compare ourselves with ourselves and measure our progress or success using real, implied or perceive benchmarks - what we wear and who made it, where we live and how it is furnished, what we drive and how new it is, what schools we attended and what grades we graduated with, parental pedigree and their current social, political and economic standing, who we know and who knows us, our network and what they are worth, our weight, height, hair texture, skin colour, facial features and how we speak and whether all these, measure up to ‘the standard.’

The world is and will most likely remain competitive so the key to contentment dwells in our ability to find our place in this race called life, take calculated risks and row our own boats bearing in mind that there are those who will remain ahead of us, no matter what we do and those who remain behind us, no matter what they do. It’s just the way it is…

To be continued
©Naomi Lucas

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