A Habit of Self-Hate
Isabel Vlahakis ’19
All around me, I see intelligent young women succeeding and thriving in a world that is constantly evolving, for better or for worse.
This evolution is internal as well, as we all struggle to adapt to a fluid environment. With social and political instability comes an insecurity of identity that is amplified by the uncertainty of adolescence. Thus, the people most vulnerable to insecurity in this day and age are those whose lives are changing the most: teenagers. Though there are any number of issues of insecurity that I could address, there is one that I have observed consistently with young women such as myself: self-deprecation.
To fully understand the extent of this habit, I have consciously listened to conversations with my friends. Specifically I have tried to understand how often we deprecate ourselves and for what reason. Of course, the first thing I found was that I do it to myself in almost any context. It feels natural, as if it is imbued into my nature, to contradict the compliments that people give me, and to describe myself in negative terms, whether or not they are true. I thought that I was a confident person, but I realized that my language suggests otherwise. People around me, regardless of the situation, constantly knocks themselves down, and their friends scramble to pick up the pieces.
I must insist that this does not mean that we are all bad people who have friends only to boost our self esteem! I appreciate every person in this community. The fact is that we make it seem as though we do not respect ourselves (even if we do), and if we do not outwardly respect ourselves, we cannot expect others to respect us. There is a fine line between being modest and hurting your self esteem, and when we insult our intelligence and our appearance for the sake of common courtesy, we can cross that line.
I am not someone who is qualified to redefine societal norms, but I would like to call attention to these rules with antiquated roots that should evolve to fit modern standards.In this specific example, women have been told by society for millennia, in one way or another, they should be humble and modest, never prideful. I argue that self-deprecation is a modern continuation of this ancient tradition, and that we must try to end it one person at a time. As the succeeding generation, it is our responsibility to turn harmful social norms into tools that build up self esteems instead of tearing them down.
Next time you get a good grade on a test, don’t say that you failed. Say you did well, because that is the truth. The next time you get a compliment, do not negate it with a list of reasons that break down your self-esteem point by point. Have pride in who you are, in your true self, because no one should be humiliated by their accomplishments. You should not feel bad for who you are and for who you aspire to be.