An American social experiment came to a conclusion about self-esteem and the level of beauty, integrity and wisdom we expect in a possible future spouse. An amount of men took an IQ test and half of them were told theirs turned out to be pretty bad, while the tests have not actually been evaluated. They were told to sit in the cafeteria and wait for further instructions and while they were sitting there by themselves, a very attractive lady “spontaneously” wanted to strike a conversation. Now while she tried to talk to them, they acted shy, insecure and withdrawn from their surroundings.
The other group of men was told their tests were out of the ordinary and that they had scored unusually high. They were also told to wait in the cafeteria and the same lady came up to them and started a conversation. Surprisingly, all of them engaged with her right away and even tried to set up a date and exchange numbers.
What we learn from that? From that social experiment we learn that the expectations we have for others depend on the picture we have of ourselves and the level of beauty, wisdom, even the sense of humor or moral standard we think we have. We set the bar to ourselves and the first group of men set the bar way too low for what they actually are. That one test (that hasn’t even been evaluated) told them they weren’t smart enough, and what they took from it was not only the feeling of not being smart but to be overall unworthy of the attention of an attractive person.
The feeling of the other person “being out of the league” is one of the worst you could possibly have and the first group went trough it (and might even still after being told their tests weren’t evaluated and therefore also not bad.)
Who even determines these leagues? What is a league anyway?
And this does not only happen in society and before the first date but even when we are in a relationship, a job, even with friends. We treat ourselves and the other person with such weird standards that we can’t really base on anything real. So often it is something we think we know or we think we feel.
Unfortunately it happens in relationships between to supposedly loving people, when the past of one dictates their self-esteem and the way their relationship goes. I can even say for myself that because of having low self-esteem I allowed the other person to treat me without the right dignity, respect and even love, because I thought it was what I deserved. Maybe it was that stingy comment in swimming class in my third year of elementary school, maybe it were some comments on social media that made me insecure enough to think the actions he took were what was appropriate for the relationship and for me.
But the same also happens in reverse. I was working on a project on sustainability in fashion and all of a sudden became absolutely judgmental about everything that was going on and I tried to kill anyone with my eyes who even tried to step into an H&M store. And all that even though my closet is full with cheaply produced H&M shirts. Although feeling better about ourselves is great and definitely the right thing to seek, we quickly lose sight of what other people feel and what their life is like, what they think and why they are and act a certain way.
Still, our self-esteem depends so much on small things.
Women can relate to the problem every time they go shopping. You try on a size 8 jeans and they don’t fit right away even though it’s the size you used to wear and you walk out of that small fashion store with the feeling of being unattractive, fat even. Like all these hours of sweat making your eyes burn while you were at the gym training your heart out on the treadmill were not worth it. It might even go that far that you completely forget about all these amazing things about yourself. You actually kind of have your life together; you can go shopping, which probably means you have a job, you have a gym membership, which means you’re constantly trying to improve yourself. And so so so many more things that I don’t even know about you, but that are absolutely wonderful.
This text is not about being insecure because of mostly very unrealistic body standards set by people on Instagram with 50k fake followers. It is about not being miserable after having one small thing happen to you. It is about getting back up when negativity is thrown at you. No matter what it is: it might be the rude driver this morning or the fact that you haven’t taken the sheets out of the washer for almost a week. It’s definitely not that damn pair of Diesel jeans you didn’t want anyway and it’s for sure not the words of another person. And the same in reverse: we have to try to look behind a facade and try not to judge too quickly, try not to expect things from people just because, but always try to relate to them and their story.