It may not be readily obvious, except perhaps to those of you who now me IRL, that I have suffered, on and off, from crippling low self-esteem. No doubt part of this is due to my trans* status. There are probably other factors as well. We have a culture that can still be terribly unkind to people who do not march lock step to its drumbeat. We weren’t destitute, but we were fairly poor, which again, our culture looks down on. The reasons are likely many, but I don’t want to talk about all of that. I want to talk about the upside of it.
Because there is an upside. It is not readily apparent, and maybe it may seem like I am reaching when I bring it up, but it is there. I have been reflecting on it for a little while. As I mentioned above, there is a laundry list of traits our society does not like, and one of them is genuine humility. Now I want to make it clear, I am not saying low self-esteem is the same as humility, because it is not, but if you let yourself you can let the former teach you the latter. It is something sorely lacking and desperately needed.
Needed not just because it a good in and of itself, though I believe it is, but because it lets us step back and think about why we believe what we believe. I spent years not believing in myself. I spent years thinking I was good enough, and while I feel I have moved past that, it has given me a gift. My sense of self is not so tied to iron-bound “truths” that I cannot let go of.
I can, and have, reflected on why I hold the values I do. I don’t want a system of belief that makes me feel comfortable, I have learned to be comfortable knowing I can be wrong, because I spent so long always thinking I was wrong or “other.” So when I find that I have been mistaken about this issue or that, I can step back and choose another path, without it crippling me.
It has been said that “I was wrong” are the three hardest words in the English language. I can see where that has been the case over the years. I also believe, however, that if we let it, they can be the three easiest, and most important. I believe if we all learn to say them, not just when it is politically expedient, then maybe we can learn how to be right.