Discovering our Sense of Self: Ego vs. Self
Happy Saturday, everyone!
Life is, essentially, a clusterfuck. So much of life passes by while we are stuck somewhere between ‘should’ and ‘could.’
In my recent post-graduate years, I’ve been trying to come to terms with who I am in the “real world,” outside of my tiny liberal arts cocoon. Instead of feeling free, I felt crippled by the overwhelming number of voices and opinions out there telling me how to spend my twenties, what I should be doing, how selfish I should be, blah blah blork.
When I first started my post-graduate, full-time, office-and-nameplate-and- stacks-of-business cards job, I would escape during breaks by staring at gorgeous Instagram feeds of travellers living their fullest, most profitable lives on beaches with a laptop and a rum-and-coke. What I eventually realized was that I love my 2 bedroom, spacious apartment, I don’t want to jump from hostel to hostel, and I thoroughly enjoy having my own space, my own quiet, my own mess if I want to.
That’s how I began to define “self-indulgent,” or even plain “selfish.”
But I loved it. And I want to help you discover your truest, richest version of self-indulgent.
You can’t begin to live your best dreams if you aren’t sure what you want – and here I offer some help with distinguishing who you are between society’s ‘should’ and your own empty ‘could.’
The field of psychoanalysis distinguishes a major difference between your “Ego” and your “Self.” I spend so much time trying to decide between somewhat trivial things, and I know what it feels like to completely spiral from a simple decision.
Being able to determine when you are listening to your Self or your Ego can help you get to the root of more of your issues and allow you to gain access into what you truly what from life. How frustrating is it to go from one place to another, one job to another, one relationship to another, all the while not ever expecting yourself to be fully happy?
It’s fucked up. It’s a huge waste of time. And that stops here.
To make everything a little simpler, I made the handy chart below:
As you can tell, our Egos are focused on being “good enough,” not “not having enough (money, love, friends, time),” and on what everyone else around us is doing.
Our Egos are not entirely bad – they’re what keep us from doing inappropriate things in front of other people and have probably even led us to a couple of good decisions.
However, Egos can also be responsible for us always “playing safe,” for rationalizing why we shouldn’t follow our dreams, or explore that idea, let alone construct a life of least resistance.
One of the most important things to note from the chart above is the concept of “higher” self esteem versus “lower” self esteem.
Essentially, “lower” self-esteem is far more fragile, and often those who have “lower” self-esteem tend to engage in more activities that reinforce a shallow sense of self-worth. For example, posting staged shots of a book, your laptop, and coffee on Instagram with a somewhat motivational/Girlboss-y caption without ever actually opening said book and returning to Netflix on your laptop post-Instagram-post. Those tiny, beautiful hearts start coming in and you feel great about yourself, but deep down you know that it’s fake. Not only that, but if someone were to dare suggest that you’re a fraud, or call you out in some way on that post, you would feel angry and embarrassed. Feeding your “lower” self-esteem can lead you to be much more defensive and potentially even to please everyone else around you before taking your own opinion into consideration.
However, when you stay true to your authentic Self, and make decisions for your benefit rather than to impress others, you are engaging with “higher” self-esteem. Have you ever made a decision that felt sooo right, that had you screaming YES at every turn? When something is so right, and so true, and is overwhelmingly resounding, it’s hard to give two shits what anyone else says or types in a comment. Because you’re happy. You’re over the damn moon and no one can take that away from you. That is higher self-esteem.
I truly believe that making decisions from your Self is the most sure-fire way of being satisfied with the decision you made even if it doesn’t turn out the way you want.
That is where that self-indulgent, positively-radiant glow comes from.
Today, stay Self-ish.