Day 31 Question 31:
How does self-esteem/self-worth affect a person? How do their surroundings affect them?
I absolutely love to see people who have come from nothing and have struggled their whole lives (whether it be with drugs, alcohol, gang violence, poverty, etc.) turn their lives around and strive to be better. I love that they have a moment of clarity and realize that the world is not the enemy. The only true enemy is themselves and they have complete control of that. While watching the documentary The Interrupters a young man that was 17 years old just got out of federal prison for robbing a barber shop at gunpoint when he was 15. This young man went back to the barber shop and owned up to his crime. He apologized for his actions and told the people he could understand if they did not forgive him but he needed to apologize. He was told after he was out of prison that he would never find a job because he was a convicted criminal. The next clip showed him working at a childcare center. He worked on the landscaping and helped set up inside when needed. He interacted with the kids and put them down at nap time. Most people would find this to be scary but I found it to be beautiful. This young man was given a second chance in life and he decided to take it. He decided to take a different path in life. In the video they show a young girl laying on her cot ready for nap time. She was about 2 or 3. I looked at her and thought about what her life might be like. This young girl is destined to grow up in a life filled with violence, hatred and fear. How is that fair?
I know I go on and on when it comes to the subject of children. It’s funny that I am unsure if I want kids isn’t it? (haha). I can’t help but think about how innocent children are and how grown-ups can still act so violent and so angry around them. I don’t understand how parents and adults don’t do everything in their power to protect their children and steer them into a life that is filled with hopes and dreams. How in certain areas (which is everywhere nowadays) can a parent tell their child they need to fight in order to survive? How can they swear in front of their children one word after another and be ok with that? How can they not look at their child and stress to them to importance of a good education and building a good life for themselves? If the parent didn’t have a good life, why would they not encourage their child to have a different life? I know these words are easy for me to say since I am not deep in the trenches of poverty and because I am an educated woman with a very supportive family. I am lucky…I am beyond lucky but I am no better than anyone because of these things.
I share stories with my readers because I know they can serve as a form of entertainment but also because it gives a better understanding to where I am coming from when I state my opinions. I realize some of my points of view come from ignorance. I do not know everything. I never will. But I want to learn as much as I possibly can during the time I have here. While I was working with a group of girls that were studying to get their GEDs I had one student in my class that I ended up having to tell to get out. I became so infuriated that I knew if she were to stay I may say some things that would not be appropriate. I did not want to speak out of anger. All of the girls in the class had children. Majority of these children were in the classroom next door (the classroom was set up like a childcare center). These children ranged from 6 months old to 4 years old. This female student of mine had a 3 year old boy in this classroom. When I first arrived at the school I would stop in to see all of the kids. The mother’s were always in there with them too. I would hold them in my lap and play with them or read to them. Some of the mom’s would put in the same effort but not all of them. This one particular mother said to her son after he threw a book on the floor (or something very miniscule), “Ugh I wish I never had you. You were just a mistake.” It took me about 2 seconds to intervene. This girl was hateful. I asked her if she swore in front of her children and she responded by saying, “I swear at my children.” It truly broke my heart. This girl had so much hate and anger in her and her children were paying the price. I listened to her 3 year old throw out cuss words because he didn’t know that it wasn’t normal and it was unacceptable. He didn’t know the difference between right and wrong. This girl became so outspoken and such a nuisance in my classroom and spewed out so much negativity that I eventually requested that she be removed. I could not allow her toxic ways to affect the rest of the class. These girls were already struggling in life and if they were going to progress they didn’t need this ring leader getting them to jump on the bandwagon. What was absolutely insane to me about the situation was how intelligent this girl was. She started the class in September and went and took the GED in December (and you must take into account that this girl had quit school between 11-12 years ago). She passed the test and received the highest scores out of anyone in her class. She had all kinds of potential and it was just being wasted.
I find inspiration in the lives of others. I watch documentaries because they are based on real life. I see other people struggle and I look at my life and stop taking what I have for granted. My life and my actions have been far from perfect. I have caused stress in other people’s life and until fairly recently I have felt regret due to that. My struggles are mine. Why should other people have to suffer? I have screamed in my mother’s face for no good reason because I was upset about things that had nothing to do with her. I was not accepting my own anxiety and I thought if I felt bad then someone else should too. How unfair is that? I have not had one good reason to scream at my mother some of the times that I have. I kept thinking it was ok because she was my mother and would never leave me. What kind of unhealthy mindset is that? I was being beyond selfish and I am ashamed to have acted the way that I have. I know she forgives me though. That is the most wonderful thing about my mother. She sees beyond these moments of anger and mistakes and she is able to forgive because she knows the goodness people have in themselves. In this respect, I hope I can work all of my life to be like that. I hope that someone or more than one person are able to come to me when they need someone to guide them or listen to them. I hope people look at me and see love. It is difficult to do with some people but that is what I try to do. I try to see everything that is good in them. I TRY not to focus on the negatives because we all have negatives. I think it is way more important to focus on the positives in people instead of point out the negatives. Majority of the time people know their negatives and do not need to be reminded of them. Unfortunately they do not always know their positives. When I worked with 7th and 8th graders I asked each of them to make a list of the 5 best things about themselves. They all struggled. At the time I couldn’t believe it and then I had to take a step back and ask myself if I would be able to list 5 of the best things about myself. I struggled. I think people need to be reminded all of the time about the great things they have and are capable of. Telling someone that they are an important part of your life or how they make you feel happy when they are around can change a person. Sometimes people have no idea how valuable they truly are. It took me 33 years to discover my value. I don’t want young girls to have to struggle throughout a good part of their life because they don’t think they are good enough or aren’t capable of greatness. I know how that feels and it is an absolutely awful feeling. I think so much anger that people hold within themselves is a direct result of their self-worth. If you grow up never being told your strengths or your value why should you think these things for yourself? Even if you have, we live in a society where media is dictating to us that beauty comes in certain forms only. I write this to pass on different messages…yes I am like a walking public service announcement I know…if you are a parent tell your children everyday how important that they are, forgive them for mistakes, let them know what real beauty is. Every single day there are millions of opportunities to pay someone a compliment whether big or small. If you don’t feel comfortable saying it then write it down for someone or send someone an email. Words of encouragement and words of believing in someone can change a life. Trust me I know this from personal experience. Although he is my ex and we have no spoken in a while, Mr. Nameless once said to me, “I believe you are onto something really big.” He told me a lot of things that hit home but this is the one thing that hit the hardest. I AM onto something really big and these words have encouraged me since the day they were spoken. When we broke up I was devastated but I refused to be broken. Instead I used this time as momentum. I used this time to dive into books, documentaries, friendships, family relationships. I tested my belief systems and opened my mind up to all kinds of worlds so different than my own. I have blogged and interacted with people from different countries. I have heard all kinds of different perspectives on the things that I am most passionate about and have received some of the nicest compliments imaginable from people I have never met. How amazing is that?
I wish there were some cookie-cutter formula which we could pull off the shelves at the grocery store which would enable all of us to raise our self-image. Sadly, it hasn’t been invented.
I have seen people who were born into money, position and privilige squander their inheritance through substance abuse.
I have seen people who were the least likely to succeed
because of their economic and home environment become very productive and lead wonderful lives.
If you ever figure out the formula let me know. I’d like to become a distributor for it
Gosh.. I just love to read your blog. Have a super day. 🙂
I have come to learn (through having a child who was expelled from both primary and secondary school) that it’s often the children who are most disruptive and most toxic who need the most compassion and care.
They become toxic because people treat them badly. It’s not so easy for them to just pick themselves up by their boot laces and change their lives. They need a LOT of love, compassion and patience to do it. It’s the adults who are there for the most troubled, aggressive and frustrating teenagers / young adults who will determine what kind of actual adult those young people will become.
My son and his wife have caused our family no end of frustration over the years. There’s been more trips to the principal’s office than hot dinners. There was the day he told us he (at 15 years old) had got is then on-again off-again girlfriend pregnant. So I’ve been some places in parenting.
But what makes me so angry is that his teachers didn’t care enough to look beyond the behaviour. From day 1 he was in trouble so from day 1 he was told “you are a naughty boy”. From day 2 he was treated like “that kid we don’t want in our class”. His school file was a mile long and it was full of negative negative negative. No wonder he had no respect for his teachers and classmates – he had no self-respect because he had no reason to believe he was worthy (his lack of self-worth started from very young because he believed he was so bad that his biological father didn’t even want to have anything to do with him).
When my son was 14 years old his now wife was pregnant with another boy’s baby. The other boy (a 14 year old A-grade student who was teacher’s pet) refused to take any responsibility for the child. My son cared deeply for his now wife and as the baby came close to being born he told me that he was going to leave home to live with her because her daughter should never grow up believing she didn’t have a daddy. This is the same 14 year old boy who was told he was useless and “is never going to make anything of his life” or “is going to end up in jail” (words his teachers used to our faces). That little girl is now in primary school and has 3 younger siblings and a daddy who is married to her mummy. The same daddy she’s always had. A “drop kick” who is more of a man than the “good kid” who created the child ever will be.
The difference between a person giving in on life and a person fighting to get back on track is not only the person themself – it’s the people who have the patience to stick it out and find a way to connect with the troubled young person. The people who are wiling to be sworn at without swearing back. The people who are willing to hear a young parent make a mistake and, instead of chastising them ask “what’s hurting you so much that you are venting at your child”. Because like I know (having been an imperfect step-parent since I was 18) – parents all know what they do wrong but sometimes the problem is that it feels like everyone’s judging and no one cares so you develop siege mentality.
Thank you for that, you sound like an amazing person. If you ever get the chance to have children – you should – you will be an amazing mum.