Recent reports are finally indicating that, after all, telling kids for years how very SPECIAL and WONDERFUL they are with no justification at ALL has proved to be a very specially and wonderfully bad idea indeed. Which is more like how the real world works, of course, and finally these minibrained multidegreed morons are coming to realize it.
You know how it goes: Oooooh, your parents and teachers and paid sycophants (shrinks/gurus/etc.) tell you, you’re exceptional and terrific and special, there are no winners or losers, just feel good about yourself and all good things will fall into your lap like a rain of roses. Without your lifting a finger to make it happen. Whether you deserve it or not. Just because you want it. Yeesh.
This cult of stroke ran roughshod for a while, then mercifully died the death. Now, like, well, like anything you thought you got rid of that comes creeping stealthily back (Make up your own metaphor, you lazy sod! You’re not special, so why should I do all the work for you?), it’s once more with us, except that people are actually putting their hands up and saying the Emperor of Self-Esteem has no clothes. FINALLY!
In Britain a few years back, some schools actually wanted to erase “Failure” grades off report cards, preferring instead to inculcate the concept of “deferred success.” The idea being to spare the self-esteem and coddle the feelings of struggling or indifferent students.
Mother of poodles! Can so-called “educators” actually be that STUPID? Just how the hell does this help anybody in the long run? The Lumpen-learners leave school sooner or later, and they get tossed out of their cozy coddling cotton-wool wrap. And then they’re gonna get socked between the eyes by a real world that thinks “deferred success” is precisely the right thing for such losers, and will happily defer it from them for the rest of their freakin’ lives.
Listen up, you little tribbles: In the real world, there are winners and losers. Life is unfair. Just because you want it, you have no guarantee of getting it and the odds are that you probably won’t. At least not the way you’re wanting it.
People aren’t going to love you or hire you just because you’re you. You’re going to have to WORK for what you want, and you’re going to be judged. Harshly, but almost certainly correctly.
And even if you work yourself sick and tired you STILL might not get it.
You have to EARN success. You have to EARN self-respect. THEN you get to have self-esteem coming out your ears. But not till then.
You have to know how to lose. You have to learn how to start from nothing, with nothing. You have to learn that in the eyes of creation, or even the modern workplace, you are pretty much no big deal. In fact, most of you are a dime a dozen, and that’s pretty much what your starting salary will be too. You are not going to graduate from college and step into a job paying $100,000 right out of the box (well, maybe if you’re a lawyer or business or IT person, hence the grandiose expectations for everyone else, but otherwise nuh-uh) and get an apartment for $300 per month and be named to the Supreme Court and win an Oscar.
Sure, miracles happen. But mostly for those who earn them. Who take the chances. Who have the imagination to ask and the talent to back the asking up. Miracles aren’t for the artificially esteemed.
So we get a generation of spoiled little brats who can't take criticism because they're just too delicate and special and nobody's ever dared to criticize them in all their coddled lilttle lives. And the first time they do encounter criticism they either fold like wilting violets or burst into infantile tears or smugly declare "That's just your opinion."
'Scuse me? It's my OPINION that you can't write an English sentence to save your life, that you don't have an idea worth expressing, that you're a sloppy and slovenly worker? I don't think so!
If your expectations were unnaturally raised to stratospheric heights by your idiot teachers and parents, too bad. They were wrong, and they did you a major and perhaps lifelong disservice by inflating you as full of unearned self-esteem as a little cream-crammed doughnut.
Because odds are you’re NOT all that special, even if you’re talented, and the world is going to let you know it by flattening your little doughnut self until all that cream squooshes out and leaves you lying there stunned and rather like a pancake.
And then, and only then, can you start making something of yourself.
Still want to feel good about yourself? (And who among us doesn’t?) Well, try doing the work. First. Before you start expecting the praise and the pats on the back. Make yourself a real person, someone with a personality and talents and accomplishments. Don’t just sit back on your lazy behind and expect the world to come knocking on your door, because the world has better things to do.
One of the two best pieces of advice I ever got was “You make your own limitations.” And I was told that early enough in my life for it to not only sink in but become part of the operating manual. I have long since forgotten what the limitations were that I was being urged not to make, but I never forgot not to make them.
Oh, and the other best piece of advice? If life gives you lemons, make lemonade out of a few if you’re really thirsty, sure, but the rest of them? Squirt them in your enemies’ eyes!
(Thanks to my sister, Regina, who suggested the topic for this rant. If you think I’m cranky, wait’ll you meet her…)