Having self-esteem does not mean you have self-love!
I used to take it for granted that if you had self-esteem you had self-love. Not true! I realized that self-esteem is finding my place in the world, what I feel I am skilled at in business, in performing, and having an overall confidence in being in the world.
I was always told by my parents, when I was young, that I wasn’t smart like my sister, and me without realizing it had to accomplish as many things as possible to show them they were wrong. I performed and danced in my community a lot, which gave me the support I never received from my parents. As the years progressed I had to experience many types of work to see what I was good at or what I loved. My choice was to go to drama school, but my parents would not allow it, Temporarily I gave that dream up, and began training as a travel agent, airline hostess, airline stewardess, administrative assistant, secretary, worked for a company making tie-dye shirts and pants, worked in a cafe selling coffee and pastries and the list goes on. Being in high school, I always made sure I had jobs during the summer so I would have the money to buy clothes that I liked, take driving lessons, get my driver’s license, and money to go into nearby Boston with my friends to a play or just hangout.
At age 30, living in NYC, divorced and in another serious relationship, I decided after leaving CBS-TV Spot Sales position, which I hated, to try my hand at performing. I did this for l0 years. I did this courageous act because I realized that I never wanted to have regrets when I looked back on my life. So at age 30 I entered drama school, did a lot of scene study work, auditioned, auditioned, and was in many off off broadway plays and did some creative endeavors on my own, in a community I was living in downtown Brooklyn. I had a 2 woman show called Graceland, performing at senior centers, nursing homes, hospitals and created a 2-weekend film festival in downtown Brooklyn, where the filmmakers would appear and answer questions from the audience after their films were shown.
No one taught me how to do the above. I learned by myself.
Many years later, I found the work for me, in what I call auspicious coincidence, by putting an ad in The Situations Wanted Column of the NY Times as an administrative assistant and ending up taking a job for a self-published author as her book publicist. It was terrifying and exciting at the same time, but I was learning that I had a gift at this and I was becoming confident within myself. And finally, I lifted my self-esteem to a place where I felt comfortable and at peace with the world. This isn’t to say that at times now my self-esteem falls to the ground if someone is mean to me, but it’s momentary and because I take care of myself and have much more awareness, self-esteem comes back very quickly.
Getting to self-love. I always thought if you had the self-esteem you must have self-love. Not true! There are many people who do great things in the world and have great self-esteem, but deep down don’t have that true self-love. Many, like myself, had been so busy trying to get the self love from others, and not realizing that it has to come deep from within. Have you ever met some people who are doing great things in the world, but they are shitty as human beings? Those people do not have self-love.
So the self-love for me came after the self-esteem. It took me 30 years to gain self-esteem and then 20 more years to have self-love. Not an easy task when you’ve grown up in a family that has never supported you or kept you safe. It always amazes me that I have come this far. I feel I am not just surviving in my life but thriving even with all of its challenges.
How did I get to the self-love? I worked on it! In the beginning by telling myself “Sherri, I love you”, I didn’t believe me, but I kept on saying it to myself so that one day I realized I truly believed it. I began to feel all of the kindness, caring, compassion that I had for others, being given to myself on a regular basis. And during great challenges self-love is so important. When I’m challenged it is the most important time for my self-care and self-love. I finally realized that if I didn’t give it to me, no one else was going to do it for me. It also changed my relationship with others. More and more I was able to accept people in my life the way they are and not the way I wanted them to be, The criticism and the judgment to myself and others fade away, and along with that is the appreciation of honesty and integrity.