Why do some people grow up with low self esteem while others grow up being happy with themselves?

When I was a kid, I felt very different from everyone else.

We used to do journal writing in class each day after lunch when I was about 7. I remember writing lines that looked like this:

“Sad. I am sad. I feel sad. I feel like I want to be me but can’t be me. That makes me feel sad.”

I didn’t care about sports, which is all the other kids wanted to do and talk about.

I felt like I couldn’t control my imagination, so instead of copying numbers in Math problems from the board, I’d be turning those numbers into Ghostbuster traps or silly creatures (as I narrated aloud).

There were many instances all through school when I felt like a distinct “other,” always separate from all the normal kids.

I once heard Sylvester Stallone say in an interview with Larry King something like, “When you’re a kid, you get an impression of yourself and what’s wrong with you. Then you’re stuck facing that your whole life.”

Feeling different and generally unacceptable has left me with 2 competing drives.

On the one hand, I’m driven to try to be like everyone else, or the way everyone thinks we’re all supposed to be—like people on TV commercials.

But on a deeper level, I’m driven to be exactly what I am.

Though the deepest part of me wants me to be myself, I find I’m not so happy with who that “self” actually is.

Fortunately, we’re no longer living in a time when success or even popularity have to be based on socially acceptable mannerisms, pursuits, etc.

As Seth Godin often writes, we’re now living in a connection economy, meaning weirdos have ample opportunities to connect around their very weirdness and thrive.

The truth is: I’d probably make a terrible cop, politician, sports announcer, or contractor.

But it turns out my weird, insatiable perspective and imagination can be valuable to others in a unique way.

I think you could waste forever wishing you were __________.

Today you can thrive as exactly what you are.

And in doing so, you force that part of you that’s spent your whole life taking in outside cues to build an effective case for why you’re no good (your low self-esteem) to take another look at the inarguable value you’re able to produce just by being true to what you are.


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