I’ve been thinking about self-esteem a lot lately – not from an academic perspective, but from a personal perspective. In thinking about the topic, I suppose the most important question is easily “What is my self-esteem level and is it healthy or not?” From there, we get into conversations about raising low or unhealthy self-esteem, which I believe to be outside the scope of my ability to discuss in any productive way.
What I’ve come to realize over the last few months in evaluating my personal level of self-esteem is that it swings wildly between extremes. I’d say that ~90% of the time I feel an extremely high level of confidence in the actualization of my best self. I am who I am, I believe what I believe, and I’m confident in my own dignity and principles. I know I have the ability to be the version of myself that I can respect and believe that my life’s trend is to become more that person with every day.
It would be a mistake to insist that these feelings stem completely from an innate sense of worth. Some of it surely stems from a variety of accomplishments that I am proud of in varying degrees. The life that Angela and I have built together is one that makes it easy to look around and feel great.
That being said, there eventually come stretches of days, sometimes even weeks at a time, where my self-esteem takes a nosedive and I doubt everything that I think I know about myself. I doubt my decisions, I doubt my reasoning and ability, and I doubt whether I’m the person I should be or even the person I want to be. The questions come quickly, and I inevitably end up in a terrible mood:
- Is my net-worth too low? Have I made the right financial decisions? Are we on the right track or should I do something different with my money?
- Why am I not stronger? Can I even be stronger? Everyone else seems stronger than me.
- Why aren’t I leaner? Can I even be leaner? Everyone else seems leaner than me.
- Is my business really a success or am I just inevitably going to fail? Am I doing enough or am I doing too much?
Comparisons to other people, both those I know personally and in the abstract, allow me to paint myself in a negative light and I end up in a death spiral to a nadir of self-worth. The worst part is that it is all in my head – there’s no external pressure or positive or negative feedback that cause these episodes of internal despair. All I know is that they are real and they are tough to deal with. When I stop feeling confident in myself it is like I’m no longer the real Nick Ohrn but am just playing a character who acts a lot like Nick Ohrn would.
Eventually the feelings subside for what seems like no reason (again, no external pressure or feedback) and everything goes back to being great. I sometimes wonder if this is something to be defeated or if it is something that I’m just supposed to deal with.
So why write this post in the first place? It certainly doesn’t add much of a useful data point, but I’m hoping that, just like my post about grieving my sister, it helps other people deal with similar feelings. I have often felt abnormal only to discover that someone wrote about feeling or experiencing something just like I have and it makes me feel better, so hopefully this post can help someone, eventually, in a similar way.