Sunday, October 26, 2014

Bouquet of Clumsy Words

Dignity. Pride. Self-esteem. Self-respect.

If you look up the definition of any of these words, the other three will somewhere appear on the page.

For example:

a realistic respect for or favorable impression of oneself; self-respect. 
a becoming or dignified sense of what is due to oneself or one's position or character; self-respect; self-esteem.
a sense of pride in oneself; self-respect. 
proper esteem or regard for the dignity of one's character. 
Also, if you were to perform a Google search with both the words pride and dignity, even without saying anything about relationships, you'll get results about relationships. People asking if they should "swallow their pride" in relationships, how they can regain their pride and dignity, and other things of that sort.

From the very beginning of our lives, we're taught the importance of these qualities. If we don't respect ourselves, how will anybody else respect us? is the primary question that girls get, most often regarding sex and why we shouldn't have it, but the question, of course, encompasses more. We're taught that we shouldn't lose ourselves for our significant other (what that exactly means, I'm not sure), that we should know our worth and not let people treat us lower than whatever that is (I'm not exactly sure of this one, either. How do we determine our worth? Is it like, I'm worth seventeen dinners and a lunch? Undivided attention every minute of every day? One text for every fifteen I send?). We're taught that above everything else, these things are most important.

It shouldn't shock you that I'm here to disagree. 

I think all the time about this one scene from My Best Friend's Wedding when Julia starts a fight between Michael and Kimmy. Kimmy says something to Michael about his job, Michael gets angry and starts to accuse Kimmy of not being accepting of what he does for a living, and Kimmy, instead of getting defensive and saying that that wasn't what she meant at all (because it wasn't), freaks out and starts crying and says it's all her fault, that she was the one who was wrong, and begs Michael to forgive her. Since I haven't seen the movie in years and can't find this clip on YouTube, I'm paraphrasing a bit, but you get the idea. Kimmy, instead of trying to maintain dignity or pride, completely gives in to Michael. And that, to me, is perfect.

Sure, I think dignity and pride and self-respect and self-esteem are important, but I think being with the person you love or care about and making that person feel happy and loved are more important. I hate the expression don't cut off your nose to spite your face, but in this case, it's the most apropos. Why would I intentionally not do something that I know in the end could make me feel better? To make a person think that I don't care in order to seem stronger than I really am? To act like I'm something I'm not because it's what all the books and experts and parents and people say I should be? To establish who has the power in a relationship? Call me devoid of dignity and pride and self-respect and self-esteem, but I don't want the power in a relationship. I just want to be happy.
The best revenge is living well.  Here's another one we hear all the time. But is revenge really what people should aspire to achieve? I mean, look at what it actually means:

the action of inflicting hurt or harm on someone for an injury or wrong suffered at their hands.
Is this really what we're supposed to want?
Because if it is, boy am I far off from where I'm supposed to be.

In fact, right now I'm right about here:

the act or fact of fulfilling one's ambitions, desires, etc., through one's own efforts.
And I can't imagine another place I would ever want to be. 

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