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In Defense of Low Self-Esteem [Oh, It’s Tuesday]

Like many women, I struggle with low self-esteem. But unlike many women, I’m not sure that’s a altogether bad thing. Here’s why:

1. Better dating experiences. I loved dating with low self-esteem. You know how some women sense that a guy isn’t all that in to her and she thinks that if she just sticks it out with him, or presses him, or makes herself as agreeable as possible, he’ll stick around? I didn’t have high enough self-esteem to feel that way. I didn’t think that there was anything in my arsenal that would make a guy change his opinion about me or like me more than I did. Most of all, I was too insecure to be with a guy who sort of liked me or just liked me well enough. If he wasn’t all in, I sensed it and either got out or forced a conversation that would make him admit that he just wasn’t that in to me.

2. Better friends. I’ve hit my low self-esteem ceiling, so I can no longer afford to hang out with people who lower my self-esteem. At this point, that would be too dangerous for my psyche . I think my friends are beautiful and intelligent and they think I’m beautiful and intelligent right on back. It’s a lot easier to be okay with not having the best inner-support system, when the people you choose to associate with compliment your wonderfulness on a regular basis.

3. Better writing. There’s this weird problem that I encounter not often but often enough in other people’s writing, which I term “Way too high self-esteem.” This is writing that might be technically good, but is exceedingly boring. Whenever I encounter writing like this, I know that the writer is either 1) mainstream beautiful or 2) privileged — two things that don’t necessarily make for an interesting debut. Quiet as it’s kept, a lot of good comes out of low self-worth. A writer should be afraid that her audience will get bored with what she is saying. She should assume her readers have other things they’d rather be doing and do everything she can to keep them engaged and interested. People with really high self-esteemoften don’t understand the mechanics of pursuing an audience, of convincing them to like you, or courting their readerly affection — this is why your prom queen or quarterback will probably never write an engaging novel. If you have high self-esteem and want to write a novel, engage a ghost writer with low self-esteem.

4. Better with Criticism. If you have high self-esteem and someone gives you constructive criticism, then it’s easy to dismiss what he or she says because you have so much confidence in yourself. If you have low self-esteem, and someone gives you constructive criticism, you believe them, and moreover you work to fix it. There are certain high confidence outliers, but I often find that the writers with the lowest self-esteem enjoy the best careers.

5. Better Confidence. This one’s a bit hard to explain, but having to constantly work on your confidence makes you a lot better at whipping it out. People with low self-esteem might not be confident all the time, but they’re often confident at the best times, when it really counts and is totally needed.

Of course, there are a lot of down sides to low self-esteem. I could live without the mean voices in my head, telling me I’m not doing a good enough job at like anything. And I would love to be able to enjoy life without fear . But at the end of the day, those voices make me work harder, overcoming fear makes the work I do so much more meaningful to me. In general, I’m just mighty glad that I have low self-esteem. It’s seriously one of my best qualities.

featured image credit: Photohunny