(Sorry it’s been so long. I’ve had a lot on my mind.)
What does it mean to have self-worth, and how does one attain it?
I feel like this is a loaded question, especially if one is a woman. Regardless of your achievements, intelligence, and charm, a woman’s worth in the eyes of society is still reduced down to a simple question: would you fuck her or not?
I think societal worth plays in a lot to personal self worth. We gauge our worthiness by what the world around us tells us is worthy, which is part of why there is so much backlash against the criticism of so-called ‘millenials’ – most of it is society – or, rather, old, rich, baby boomers – telling millenials they’re not worth much. Hence the backlash.
But my main interest today is about self-worth when you’re a woman.
Like it or lump it, we’ve grown up being told to tie our self-worth into two things: our attractiveness to the opposite sex and whether or not we have a man, and I think it takes a lot of courage and bravery for a person to acknowledge they need neither.
Let me, briefly, dive into my own history:
For years I thought I was fat. My mental image of myself, still, some days, has a big label on it called “FAT”. I’m not sure why. I’ve looked at photos of myself as a child and young adult, and I definitely wasn’t, or honestly, I’m really not – I’ve been accused, if anything, of being underweight – but some labels, due to the way our media works, stick, and for years, the label of “FAT” followed me like a miasma.
When I first started dating, I had trouble dating men who were actually attractive. I used to date mostly unconventionally attractive men – not because they were my ‘type’, but because I didn’t think I could get any better.
Then I got raped.
I slept around with anyone, in an attempt to reclaim my body, until one day I realized my attitude to both my body and myself were not healthy, and decided to have a year’s sabbatical from relationships and sex.
Then I got into a three year long relationship. Go figure.
The guy in this relationship wasn’t conventionally unattractive – he was actually very handsome, but in a ‘nerd-chic’ sort of way. And following the end of that relationship, I started dating someone I would normally consider way out of my league.
And that led me to totally reconsider the way I thought about my own self-worth: was I as ugly as I thought? Was I, in fact, way hotter?
I started strutting a bit more when I hit bars and clubs. I started getting hit by a much nicer class of guy.
And then I got dumped.
The words “you’re too ugly for me” weren’t used, but something along that approximation was said (I can’t bring myself to type the exact words he used – they cut way too deep).
I still have scars on my heart.
And afterwards, the scars were so deep, it occurred to me I might never trust another person with my heart again. And I made peace with that.
I spent the last six months of last year making peace with the concept that I might never actually date again, or end up married, or living with someone romantically.
Of course, then I realized that, even as I was making peace with that potential reality, I was falling madly in love with my current boyfriend and here we are now.
But my point is for me to gain self-worth, I had to go through some absolutely horrific experiences, to gain the scar tissue to say to myself “I’m worthy of this. And I don’t need anybody else.”
The fact that we raise girls in such a way that that scar tissue is necessary?
Maybe, just maybe, our world would be better, if we started the novels of our lives saying to our young women “Hey, you know what? You’re fine exactly as you are, and you will always be fine, exactly as you are, and you will never need anybody else to complete you. You are a whole individual. And that is okay,” instead of making the journey about them finding that out.
Because you know what?
We are fine as we are.
And maybe we won’t get someone to live with forever.
But that is okay.