Seeing Ourselves Objectively

Ashley Kim

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November 14, 2021

  A hot topic of recent years has been self esteem.  It’s manifested in a variety of terms: self love, self care, self image.  Whether you’ve scrolled through self care threads on Twitter or read “deep” Gen Z poetry on Instagram, having a better self image is at the forefront of our generation’s attention.  And to an extent, this rebellion against negativity is a good thing―a great thing.  In an age of fast-paced headlines, digital deadlines, and constant, inescapable pressures, it’s important to take care of our health: physical, mental, and emotional.  But perhaps instead of speaking only affirmations and seeking validation, we should take a step back. Aim to see ourselves through the lens of objectivity. Not self-inflated, not torn down, but a purely objective vision of who we are on the inside.

  I’m not condemning the movement for self care and love.  But I think there is a danger in not being honest with ourselves.  Instead of swinging between two extreme ends of the spectrum, between an utter loathing of oneself and a blind love, maybe we should stop in the middle and learn to see both sides.  We live in a world that doesn’t like to admit that it has flaws. We live in an age of photoshop and Instagram models and deceptive marketing, and we are slowly being taught that if we love ourselves enough, all of our flaws will disappear.  To an extent, this idea is positive, but when it stunts growth and change and paints personality and behavior flaws as positive, we begin to lose sight of the true goal behind self love.

  Confidence doesn’t come from ignoring your imperfections; it comes from knowing they are there and still knowing that you’re valuable.  Instead of disregarding your flaws, get to know them intimately. Not your physical imperfections and insecurities, but the parts of you that are not so kind or strong. And knowing our flaws, not in how we look but how we act, is how we become better people.

  You see, through an objective lens of the people of this world, you would see imperfections. Personality flaws, blind spots.  But you would also see the things that make each person utterly unique; the things that make them valued by their loved ones, the things that can never be done in the exact same way as them, the things that will leave the world a little different than before.  When you look at yourself through an objective lens, see the colorful array of your traits, both positive and negative. See that, in spite of the imperfections that try to hold you back, you are a valuable, unique person.

  And maybe you have a lot of inner flaws.  I’m not talking about physical flaws, but things about the way you act and the way you live.  Those are the things that change lives and people. And that’s the beauty of seeing yourself objectively; you have the dual knowledge of your value and the things you want to improve on.  You can acknowledge and celebrate your strengths, while working on your weaknesses. These things are not mutually exclusive; you can love some aspects of yourself and seek to grow in others.  Understanding the coexistence of strength and weakness in who you are is what makes a confident, self-aware person. Understanding who you are is the key to being the best version of yourself. And you can’t truly understand who you are without examining your life through an objective lens.

  Don’t stop practicing self care or affirmations or self love if that’s what gives you confidence.  But every so often, take a good, long peek at who you really are; all the good and bad parts that work together, and learn to see it in the best objectivity you can muster.  See yourself not as the world sees you, or your peers, or your teachers, or your parents. See yourself detached from the influences of the world and everyone around you, and learn to view your life in colorful harmony.  Take away the filters of consuming positivity and blind negativity and see objectively.

  If you see yourself objectively, you will also understand who you are, and where you are; and most importantly, you will understand that you are valuable in spite of your flaws.  That’s what true self love is, at least for me. For me, it’s not about surrounding myself with positivity or taking selfies or hearing compliments, but being purely honest with myself.  And accepting your own true, honest self for who you are leads to unconditional confidence. See yourself objectively; you will realize all the things you want to grow in, all the things you want to change, but most importantly, the things that make you uniquely valuable.