Saturday, February 02, 2008

Self-Esteem, Schmelf-esteem

I’ve decided that self-esteem isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I mean, seriously, look at how fragile it is. How quickly it dissolves into an insecure mess, giving up its strength at the smallest hint of criticism. Felled like the giant-above-the-beanstalk by the absence of just one hoped-for affirmation. One phone call that never comes. One ignored email. One day of obscurity.

Or maybe that’s just my self-esteem.

I recently entered a novel of mine in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest and made it to the semi-finals. Okay, so did 846 other people, but it’s a move in the right direction. Anyway, I received very nice reviews by Publisher’s Weekly and two of Amazon’s top reviewers as well as some others. But two or three mediocre reviews really got under my skin. I went to bed early after reading one of them, convinced I’m a terrible writer with no business letting anybody read my stuff. Good-bye self-esteem; you’ve been edited.

I have a friend that was twice supposed to let me know when we could meet for lunch. I never heard from her again. Ciao self-esteem; you’ve been dropped.

I shared some exciting news with someone. They replied with a lukewarm “how nice.” Au revoir, self-esteem; you’ve been boring.

I had something important to say in a conversation in which it was impossible to get a word in edgewise. Adios, self-esteem; you’ve been silenced.

I know better. I really do. I spent a couple of years wrestling with adolescent-style insecurity and finally realized the only ticket out of that mud pit was to put my confidence not in myself or in the favor of others, but in God alone. Call it God-esteem. But every now and then I forget.

So, I’ve decided I want to get rid of my self-esteem entirely. It’s a fickle, demanding, mean-hearted lover with serious control issues. Enough navel-gazing. Enough hurt feelings. Enough measuring myself against people who appear to be more successful, more beautiful, more interesting.

Sayonara self-esteem. You’ve been kamikaze-ed.


Anonymous said...

Imagine your self-esteem run over by a Mack truck. That's the upshot of one's novel not being in the favored 800+.

Caron Guillo said...

Yes, I imagine it is. See, you've put me in my place for whining! It just goes to show I should keep a more balanced perspective and not rely on the strength (or weakness) of my own self-esteem.

And as for you, my friend, you should be tremendously proud of yourself for actually writing a novel. Most people only talk about it!

By the way, my first novel is in the file cabinet--unredeemable and unpublishable. This particular novel had the same destiny when I first started sending it out, but with perseverence, some great mentors, and many, many re-writes, I at least garnered an agent with it!