‘I will never be good, and that’s not bad’
By Angela Espinoza, Arts Editor
Self-esteem never stops developing. The people who surrounded you growing up, who surround you now, and who will surround you in the future, affect how you view yourself. Not only people, but the goals you choose to follow and how realistic they are will also determine your self-esteem. How do you feel about yourself right now? How did you get to that point?
Few people go longer than a week without dazing back into their childhood. The child you were yesterday became the child-like adult you are today. Were you the sporty kid, now athlete? How about the nerd, now science major? Maybe the class clown turned theatre student? It’s unclear how much your childhood labels actually follow you into adulthood. Unfortunately, a popular attempt at building children’s self-esteem is to encourage them to go after a specific title—even if it’s something that particular child isn’t good at or doesn’t care about. For some children, this can backfire horribly and convince the child they’re not actually good at anything. For other children, this can also backfire, and will convince them to be total dicks.
In the same way that an insecure child is dependent on their peers’ approval, so is the overly secure child in that they thrive on showing off their existent or non-existent talents. “Fixed mindset” is a phrase that comes into play here; whether you’re constantly building yourself up or putting yourself down, that is your “fixed mindset,” and it is something that can be repaired over time—but the key word is ‘time.’
If you take the child who supposedly wasn’t good at anything, and later learned they were actually talented, their life has a huge turnaround. But if you take the child who was supposedly good at everything, only to learn they are total dicks, then that can completely destroy a person’s self-esteem.
The fact that there is only a 50 per cent chance of that previous over-encouragement actually amounting to anything (in this scenario) is not progressive. We’re all human, and what’s more inhumane than causing a person’s psyche to fall apart? Rather than teachers, parents, and friends over-encouraging children, all they need to do is encourage children just enough.
There is a fine line between where encouraging a child’s growth and development is welcome, and where it’s simply a bad decision. But rather than encourage a child at everything—since that seems to be what backfires most—let the kid find themselves. Taking a moment to step back and being completely uninvolved are not the same thing; it’s okay to let a child kick a ball around or slap their hands in paint without making it the biggest deal in the world.
A phrase that haunts me to this day is, “You’re so good at that,” as quoted by too many members of my family. If it turned out I had actually been good at whatever putting Mega Bloks together in a circular shape amounts to, I wouldn’t be here writing this article. If anything, I’d probably be shitting all over someone else’s day because I would supposedly be better than them. “You’re so good at that” or “You can do it” needs to stop being said so often, and be replaced with, “Give it a try.”