Over the years I have heard the statement “you have to learn to love yourself” over and over as the anecdote to a myriad of mental and physical problems. When I first heard someone utter these words I realized that I probably didn’t love myself very much. I was brought up primarily by a grandmother who never made a “big deal “out of herself and a mother who tried desperately to make sure I didn’t think I was a “big deal” ! If I got an A minus she would try to find out what happened to the other half a point. She had very little filter between her thought process and what came out of her lips. If she thought I had gained weight she didn’t think twice about mentioning it. Did it make me wince? Oh you bet it did, but you always knew where you stood. My teachers, the good sisters of St. Joseph never gave a compliment unless you preformed a miracle, and we all know how long it takes the church to verify that. Yes, It was tough going, but I was lucky enough to have a nature that is tenacious and resilient, something I think we’re losing. Today young people are bathed in messages telling them how “special” they are. Most of the time there is no evidence to support the compliments that are often profuse and go from the sublime to the ridiculous. Could it be that as a society we are creating praise addicts? It feels that way. You Tube is full of people doing everything from brushing their teeth to warbling songs that sound worse than someone running their fingers up and down a blackboard. They post pictures of themselves on every gadget and send it immediately in case someone has forgotten who they are. Reality shows are filled with content that makes stupid look smart and is primarily about watching people do nothing of importance. I am in awe as to how the Kardashians are constantly in the limelight. They obviously have learned to understand that the path to fame and fortune is to constantly make sure that someone, anyone is looking at them. “Look at me, look at me” is the new metaphor. Self-effacement was a huge part of my generation, which has now been replaced with self-expansion. I don’t think that either method is the best. But there is a balance and we better find it, before we end up with Chuckles the Clown for president.
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