If you want to learn humility, just try being a kid growing up with bad teeth. Of course, the problem is, in addition to humility, you also probably get the burden of insecurity and low self-esteem. Or at least that was the case with me…
Essentially, self-esteem is the reputation you build of yourself, for yourself. Maybe I’m projecting and personalizing, but it just seems to me that it is so difficult to grow up feeling “normal,” and accepted in the world. And you can make the argument that social media is making it worse today, because it makes abusive and bullying behavior more scalable. Scrolling through all the beefcake boys and lingerie model wannabes on Instagram can be a pretty daunting experience for a teenager (or even adult) today. It seems like the whole datasphere is conspiring to present a fictionalized, pretentious, and idealized version of what is normal today.
In my case, it started with getting ridiculed for having buck teeth. By the time I was 12, I already had a big nose. People were staring at the vitiligo on my hands by the time I was 16. My hairline as receding before I was 25. If there were Instagram when I was a kid, I’m quite sure I would have killed myself. (Seriously.)
I desperately wanted to look like the cool, beautiful people. But realized I was never going to look like Tom Cruise or Joe Montana. By the time I was 35, I was starting to become wealthy and actually had the money to get a nose job, hair transplants, or other cosmetic surgery. But I no longer had a desire to do any of that...
Because I started being happy being me. (Although I did get my teeth fixed, which I recommend for anyone.)
You start to realize that Barack Obama has big ears and he made out pretty well, Dame Judi Dench looks beautiful even though she has wrinkles, and the Rock was voted the sexiest man alive even though he’s bald. You recognize that women with husky voices, guys who look effeminate, “plus size” women, people with disabilities, or Peter Dinklage-size actors – and all sorts of other “not normal,” unconventional people can all end up being loved and appreciated, successful and celebrated, sexy and sought after.
And it happens when they are comfortable in their own skin. They simply celebrate their worth as a human being, and not try and conform to the superficial, artificial definition of beautiful. You recognize that that stuff that really matters is kindness, love, and empathy. And once you reach that breakthrough, your life begins in earnest.
Because when you start to be comfortable with who you are, you stop being uncomfortable with who you're not.
So how are you doing on that?