I often wonder whether my opinions of myself are just a culmination of the opinions that others have of me. Is my perception of myself and my value based on how I am perceived? We have all been taught to not care about what others think of us, but what if what we think of ourselves is exactly that?

Let’s simplify this idea for a moment. If I were the only person to exist on planet earth, I would probably love myself one hundred percent of the time. I would be so proud of and impressed with myself. I would believe that every word that I speak and action that I do is correct. I would assume that the way I look is the best and only way for a person to look. Obviously, I do appreciate myself now and I do believe that my existence is special, but I must acknowledge that billions of people on this planet likely operate in a completely different, or even opposite, way than I do. Multiple truths can exist at the same time, but we will always have opinions on which truths are right and which are not. At the very least, the opinions that we have of ourselves are based on the opinions that we have of others.

I would love to believe that I am indestructible. I would love to believe that the value that I place in myself is unwavering, but I would be lying if I said that this were the case. Thankfully, I am surrounded by the best people, and for the most part, they do uplift me. At the same time, I cannot always control what I read and whom I meet. Some people will be rude or judgmental, and while their words could be bred from insecurities, they still hurt. We are not protected from the expressions that we see on another person’s face as we are talking to them, and we cannot control what is said about us behind closed doors. People say upsetting things when they are angry or jealous or confused, and we can internalize these sentiments within the blink of an eye.

The internal battle stems from this: I know that I am a kind person, but do I only know that because others have told me that I am? Am I only pretty or attractive because other people decided that I am? If, God forbid, everyone told me that I am worthless, would I still believe that I have value? In many ways, we have seen this type of nurturing, or lack thereof, manifest through the wonderful and horrible things that human beings have done.

I do not really have an answer to the questions that I have posed and I also do not have a solidified conclusion as to whether my perception of myself is rooted in how others perceive me. I will likely never know, and maybe we are supposed to spend our lives working toward indestructible self acceptance. Maybe we should just believe whatever helps us sleep at night.

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