I see many people in society who are conflicted by self. Every single person wants to identify herself with something – an idea, a notion, a group. No one wants to be alone. No one wants to be left out – each deriving their self-worth, their meaning for existence from an external locus. Are we a generation so scared of our own uniqueness, our individualism that we take comfort in groups, hide behind the collective mindset? Why are we so unsure of our own self-worth? Or does the problem lie in our perception of self-worth? If we consider it, self-worth is a qualitative term rather than a quantitative one. Then how come we feel bad when we think that we are falling short of some pre-decided measure of human behaviour or expectation? Is it because we compare our self-worth against the predefined “social worth” criteria of the existing society?
If we look at it very carefully, then we can see that the society, itself, is so dynamic that the definitions and boundaries, which make up social worth keep on mutating constantly. Definitely, there are certain parameters of social worth which change very slowly over decades and more while there are some which are quite flexible and susceptible to changes in the collective beliefs and principles of the society in a very short duration. Hence, social worth, in itself, is not a constant. In such a scenario, it becomes quite stupid to measure one’s self-worth against the yardstick of social worth.
It is undeniable that self-worth, in some part, is derived from social worth. But what I refuse to believe is for social worth to be the major composition of self-worth. If so, then what about the experiences one goes through in life? These experiences are mainly responsible for the evolution of an individual, for defining her nature, character, beliefs and principles. They shape up the individual into whatever sort of person she is today. So, it would seem logical for the self-worth to be derived from a person’s inner belief in herself and her power of comprehending and interpreting the experiences she has been through than anything else.
Yet, somehow, we – the people – end up defining our self-worth as a function of social worth instead of as an independent variable. Hadn’t humans evolved initially as small groups of slightly rational animals who then formed societies for survival. I wonder if that was when social worth & self-worth were evolved – so entangled that it has become difficult for us to separate the two even in our own consciousness. Or are the two such an intrinsic part of being human that one cannot exist without the other? Was there a conspiracy back in time by the powers-that-be to make the social worth as the true mirror and the self-worth a mere reflection of it? Maybe, then, it would have been easier in those time to label and castigate those people with highly individualistic tendencies as rebels and crush them out. Voilà! No opposition!
History stand testimony to several such leaders who led their people to victory. Many civilisations have risen and fallen due to a few key players. I wonder what would have happened if these people would have stuck to the existing social conventions and mutely followed the predominating rules without challenging them ever. One this is certain – history would have been very boring and monotonous! If these people would have given up on their own self-worth, then we would still be living under the oldest civilization till date. There would hardly have been any inventions, discoveries or any progress in the human evolution process as for all this what is required is a highly individualistic nature, the courage to challenge the preconceived ideas, the persistence to keep going in the face of failures and above all, an unshakeable believe in self.
Hence, self-worth is more than a function of social worth. It is an independent variable altogether. The sooner we understand this, the better it is – for the individual as well as the society as a whole because ultimately, the society benefits from these expressions of self-worth. But that will happen in the long run. In the short run, the one who benefits most is the individual! No more vacillating, no more doubts about the choices one makes, no more self-disgust and pity for the wrong ones. One would be free of it all – all the negative emotions which hold us back from being truly happy.
Remember, only can a free rational mind truly experience the bliss that true self-worth brings. And only can a person truly worthy of oneself be free!