Esteem Assessment

11 08 2010

Firstly, I must say that writing this at all is a daunting task as to do as such requires honesty with myself before I can document said honesty.

I’ve not had any noteworthy amount of constant self-esteem for as long as I can recall.  There are minute awards of bolsters to my esteem that arrive after specific compliments or achievements, but these fail to overshadow the looming thought that I am not achieving what I should and am not measuring up to a standard I have for myself.  I suppose I must first look at why my standards are as they are.  Quite likely, it stems from my upbringing.  My father, specifically, was extremely expectant of me, setting very high standards for my behaviour, my education, my life and achievements.  As he is deceased, I cannot inquire as to why he was this way with me, but I believe a lot of it stems back to when I was given an IQ test when I was seven years old.

At eighteen months of age, my parents were murdered violently in our home, in front of me.  I was spared, for what reason I know not, and after living for almost one year with the nearest living relative, I was adopted by my cousin and his wife, who could not have children of their own.  I suffered from nightmares, moments of anxiety and odd phobias.  By the time I was school aged, these were displayed even moreso and my new parents took me to meet with a psychologist, who amongst other things, administered the IQ test.  My score was 136, which means little to me now, nor then, but was evidently a rather significant score and following the results, the push was on.  Any time my grades or school work was less than perfect, my parents would remind me of my potential based on my IQ score and I would be pressured to improve.  My father was of the school of thought that anything less than 100 of 100 meant there was room for improvement and that I then had further work to do.  And I agree and uphold in myself the same belief myself and have extended that thought to my children.

I must interject to state that I do recognize the difference between attaining perfection and doing the best one is individually capable of doing.

Never, in my father’s lifetime, did he ever once state that I had made him proud.  For Christmas and his birthday, whenever I would ask him what he wanted, even when I was an adult, he would simply say “For you to make me proud”.  This statement always made me feel as though I had not yet achieved this result and drove me further.  My mother, who had abandoned me and my father when I was 16, jumped on this when I shared it with her after my father’s death and would tell me repeatedly how proud she was of me.  She would reiterate it to the extent that it had no value to me.

With this snapshot of my childhood in mind, I have to state that I believe it is a direct result of this that I feel I am not meeting a standard that would make my father proud and I set the bar higher each time I get close because I know in fact that he would have done the same.  And until I attain a level of perfection that my aptitude would afford, I will continue to feel that I have come up short in my goal.  And thereby, my pride in myself cannot be realized because it is not yet deserved until I reach that goal.

I feel a bolster of pride when my children achieve an accomplishment, as not only is it a reflection of their hard work, but of my influence on them as well.  When certain people make specific comments to me about their esteem in me, this too makes me proud.  But I stress to state that these are only parts of me and not reflections of a wholly successful individual and as such, I still cannot relish in a complete level of self-esteem as a result.

You inquired about baggage and I am not certain I actually carry any.  I consider myself rather ept at learning from experiences and moving along.  I don’t carry regret or sorrow or ponder going back in time to change anything I have done.  I suppose I don’t fit the norm of a person with low self-esteem because I don’t have baggage or regrets or perhaps I don’t care to acknowledge baggage to myself to list it here, but as I sit here and ponder it, I don’t honestly believe I have any.

When I fail to succeed, I do beat myself up internally, but not overly so.  I think I do so in a more methodical fashion by reexamining where I have failed and try to begin establishing a mental playbook on how to not do so again.  If I didn’t earn a 100% on a test, then I look at what questions I got wrong, I study them and commit them to memory and if I didn’t grasp them better due to a failure of reading more at length, then I know I need to increase my reading tasks for next time.  If I fail to lose weight a certain week, I tend to look back over my food journal and note how much water I drank, what foods differed from weeks where I did lose weight – I set about trying to create the picture in my mind of what went wrong in my actions.

My current goals are massive, and ever changing.

I desire to quit smoking, but have not achieved this goal as my motivation is low and this is my crutch for anxiety, so I know as long as my other goals are not better met, then this will not be either.

I desire to lose weight, and this goal is a very emotional goal for me as I have been trying for a few years and prior to my accident I had gotten down to a 16 after a year’s worth of work.  After the accident though, my ability to exercise is greatly reduced and my stagnation moments are greatly increased and I am back up to a 24.  This is devastating for me emotionally as I feel I am doing all that I can and still falling short.  This is one of those goals that I take pride at a loss of 3 or 4 pounds because I know that based on my capabilities, it is the best I can do, but when I gain or remain the same over a week, it is upsetting because it is only that much more I need to do the following week.  I’ve managed to stop eating my sorrow, which I did a lot of shortly following the accident, and in that I take pride.

Enrolling in college was, and graduating will be, hugely significant for me.  This is the fourth college I have enrolled in, but the first from which I will have graduated.  I’ve bailed in the past for fear of failing, primarily, which would be worse in my mind that not trying at all.  (I entirely disagree with the adage that it is better to try and fail than to not try at all.)  I won a full scholarship and enrolled in a university while in high school but after my husband to be asked me not leave, I decided to drop out before the start.  Then at my family’s insistence I enrolled in a community college, but before the first semester was through I was pregnant so I dropped out again.  I enrolled and CLEP tested in college when I finally got my divorce, but I was terrified of failure and decided not to go through with it.  So for me, even actually making it to the point of attending was a big accomplishment this time.

My other primary goal is securing employment.  I’ve worked since three days after I turned sixteen and have never been without a job for more than three months, not including while in high school or when I first had my babies.  I’ve done everything from running a vending route to flipping burgers to copying microfiche files to scrubbing toilets and everything thing else and it is very discouraging to know that my contribution to the household is simply completing chores.  It’s a demoralizing thought, so I try to avoid focusing on my situation at any length, but when the bills come due or children have needs, it is hard to not be very aware of what I am not providing.  When I sit in a quiet house and hear the tick of the clockhands and have washed every stitch of fabric, mopped every inch of floor and it’s only ten in the morning, that is when the morose feelings do set in at their worst.  Having a job is something that gives me a sense of accomplishment, a sense of purpose, a sense of obligation – all of which feed my esteem.

So, that’s it, in a nutshell.  As I review this I am settled in knowing I have been exposed to the core and honest.  That’s all I can ask of myself.

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