Saturday, April 11, 2009

Don't bother reading this.

I have low self-esteem. There's no really good reason for it. I had great parents and a perfectly fine childhood (apart from the low self-esteem thing). Nothing deep and dark and traumatic has happened to me. I haven't spent years with anybody telling me I'm ugly and worthless and unlovable (nobody apart from me, anyway). So I have no good excuse for my low self-esteem, which naturally only makes me feel worse about it.
One of the blessings of getting older is that I understand more about myself. One of the frustrations of getting older is that I understand many things about myself without seeming to be able to actually change them a whole lot. Intellectually I know that I'm intelligent and friendly and average-looking. I know that when I go out in public and I feel so ugly that I have trouble meeting anyone's eyes, that's my own personal weirdness, not objective reality.
It took me years to start blogging, even when I knew I would really like it, because I couldn't believe that my opinion was worth anything. Then I decided not to care. Low self-esteem is not attractive. At the Oscars, Katherine Heigl came out to present an award, looking ludicrously beautiful, but the first thing she said was "Forgive me, I'm unbelievably nervous. I'm not very good at this". Did I feel sympathy? Empathy? I did not. I thought, "oh honey, you're a movie star, you're hot, you're at the Oscars, no one wants to hear about your issues." Even though I'm the opposite of a movie star (today I found a plastic grocery bag tied up on the stairs and when i opened it there was a pair of boys' sports socks that smelled like shit. I thought about investigating, but I decided to just throw them out and never speak of it again. Except for now), I figure the same is probably true with me. So I'm trying to show improvement in that area.
I belong to an on-line dvd service, from which I keep telling myself I'm going to unsubscribe, because it's really not worth the money, but I can't quite do it because they send me movies! in the mail! It's like Christmas every time I get one. And it means I get cool obscure foreign films and cheesy horror movies that I would be too embarrassed to rent from the video store, plus it all happens without my having to talk to anyone! I also joined one of those websites that lets you list and rate all the books you've read, simply because the other day my kids started out by asking me when I started liking reading so much and ended up by saying "you must have read a thousand books!" and I got curious about how many books I actually have read. Finding this website was a very bad thing of course, because it's scary addictive, and I end up sitting there for hours thinking "oh, and what was that one by the Swedish guy, with the outhouse thing and the... oh, something about a girl. I'll just type in 'girl' and see how many titles they come up with. Twenty five thousand and seventy-eight? No problem, I have some time before I have to start dinner."

Anyway, both of these websites have the five-star system for rating movies and books. I would sit there agonizing over how to rate them -- well, the plot was good but the characterization was a little weak. The writing was spectacular, hated the ending. It was entertaining, but was it a really valuable addition to the canon? Then, totally by accident, while I was scrolling over the stars, I saw that each star is tagged with a phrase. Something like: one star = I didn't like it, two stars = it was okay, three stars = I liked it, four stars = I really liked it, five stars = it was amazing. And I had a tiny epiphany; it's not about how objectively good the movie or book is. It's about how much I liked it. It's about how it moved me, or not. My taste is eclectic and quirky, and people looking for recommendations might as well know that. And now I'm giddy with power, throwing around four or five star ratings with gay abandon, because screw you if you think the coincidences were unbelievable or that Mormons don't really behave that way or you didn't like the leading lady's nose -- this is my list. And my opinion is just as good as anyone else's. (And better than some -- four stars for Maeve Binchy? puh-lease!)

5 comments:

Amber said...

I have been blogging for years - almost 6 to be exact. And yet until this past October I never commented on other blogs or engaged in community. Because, get this, I thought I would be bothering people by sharing my views. I was just so anxious about the whole thing it was easier to hide out.

I've only recently come to the same conclusion as you have. My opinion is as valid as anyone else's. It's just as worthy of sharing. And we don't all have to agree. It will be OK.

wheelsonthebus said...

Oh, thank you for leaving your calling card. It is so nice to read such a fresh blog. ANd, I'm on Goodreads, too, if you want to add me :)

Anonymous said...

Although low self esteem is not endearing in gorgeous movie stars it is pretty cool if you can be funny at the same time (think Woody Allen). And you my dear, are very funny. So yeah, at this point you're probably stuck with the occasional bouts of self loathing but think of it as something to give your writing edge and depth. Plus I loved the stinky socks - I try to be really good about reusing and recycling until the object is "gross" and then its straight in the garbage bin no questions asked. Zed

alison said...

Seriously, one of the joys of getting older really *is* that you tend not to care what other people think. I was always shy and worried about offending people with my temerity in actually having opinions and stating them. Now I just don't care. You're right, your opinion is just as valid as anyone else's and probably better informed than most.

I like reading your blog because it's smart and funny. A winning combo.

NoisyBluebird said...

I often read your blog and wonder how it's possible that my thoughts about the world could be so similar to yours. How could you understand me so well? Are we the same person!? Except for the fact that your grammar and sentance structure is much more better. :)

Then I realize that if I have low self esteem about myself then that must mean that I also would not think that highly of you either. But I think you're fabulous! Funny! Insightful! Smart! Cheeky! Definitely red hot when wearing boots lying on a kitchen table!

Oh my God! That means that there may be parts of myself that I actually DO like! Thank you Alison! I'm going to be o.k after all! Except for the part about the grammar. And don't worry, I won't post any of those pictures any time soon. :)