Why look outside for self-esteem?
by Auretha Callison
On my journeys in this life, I’ve noticed a special energy that some people have, regardless of how they look or how much money they have. These people have an effervescent radiance that comes from inside. They continue feeling good, whether or not their joy is appreciated or reciprocated. They know that they are each somebody and they have something to give. Their offering may be a smile, a hug, directions, advice, love, a meal or a place to stay.
Especially apparent on a recent trip to Puerto Rico. We just couldn’t stop being blessed by everyone we met. It seemed everyone was having a good time doing absolutely nothing and we had to adjust. The whole island was “hanging out.” Their self-esteem wasn’t hinging on what they were accomplishing.
Here in the good ol’ USA, we seem to get the message that the confidence we want can be bought and sold—or earned. “Here’s your fake (fill-in-the-blank body part), face, hair, white teeth, knowledge. Now you are better (than others) because you paid for it!” Or “You’ve put in the time, effort or paid your dues.” Seems we might rely on what we have or what we’ve done to feel good about ourselves.
I love the little old white-haired grandmas that have taught me the way of true beauty. Crinkled old people have stunned me with the fierceness of God in their eyes. Big-boned black women I didn’t even know have made me swelter in the heat of their unconditional love. (There’s nothing like being smothered by a Southern woman’s hug.) Homeless folks have made me uncomfortable with their gift of a compliment.
The person with “nothing” or “nothing shiny” just might be the one who’s radiating a self-confidence that’s greater than yours.
Self-confidence is an expression of giving what one knows is inside. We’re not supposed to think we’re all that and a bag of chips, but let me tell, you, my friend, I am all that. I have barbeque-smoked chips and they are Divine! Won’t you take some when I offer it? My advice is amazing and meant to help you love yourself. If your pits are stinky, I might avoid hugging you, but love you all the same. I’m not perfect or fully enlightened or built like Barbie, but I have confidence that I am full, and sharing that fullness with you may overflow and perhaps you will share some back with me. Maybe from my confidence you will share your confidence and change the whole world.
That’s where people get nervous. How dare we feel that good and communicate it?! Getting a big head, being an ego-maniac, arrogant, pompous—you know you might get called a name if you act too confident. That’s what took us out in middle school. After that we decided to play small.
A confident self is someone who knows his strengths and weaknesses. Efficiency experts say that focusing on improving a strength is much more efficient than spending effort improving a weakness. A confident person is developing his offering and minimizing his mediocrities. My contribution to this planet may or may not be for you, but I’m gonna market the hell out of it and get it out there to the world. I may even make a living with my contribution, but I’m bringing it, just the same. Living Out Loud. Rockin’ the Kasbah. I know what is good inside of me. Do you? Are you “bringing it” to the world? Are you letting your light shine?
We may judge it or declare it inappropriate but we need to bring the best of ourselves out to share with the world. Be confident in who you are and what you have to offer. Even if you think it’s just giving good directions.