Self-respect is entirely different from self-love, or even self-esteem. People have said that innocence ends when one is stripped of the delusion that one likes oneself. By loss of innocence, I mean the realization that I am not special, that I am not living a charmed life, there is nobody watching over me. Real self-respect can follow, unpinned by the feeling of entitlement.

Self-respect is not the key to happiness. If anything, the innocence, or ignorance mentioned in the above paragraph is happiness, and the loss of innocence and the gain of self-respect can be a jarring and process, making you wiser but not happier. Self-respect is something you pursue because once you gain that loss of innocence, there is no turning back. The attainment of self-respect is a journey first begun by that disillusionment. Everybody starts the journey to know oneself, but fewer finish.

Part of the reason I node about myself is not because I think anybody cares about who I am, but to keep track of the person I once was.

I believe that the essence of true self-respect, as mentioned in Didion's On Self-Respect, can also be called character. The idea of doing things because they 'build character' is almost archaic now, a remnant of generations past, involving the sacrifice of immediate gratification or pleasure for (sometimes intangible)future benefits. Self-respect is about getting shit done, and not depending on others for the scale on which you judge yourself.

Ernest Hemingway wrote, in A Farewell to Arms:

"The world breaks everyone and afterwards many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good, the very brave, and the very gentle impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too, only there will be no special hurry."

Self`-re*spect" (?), n.

Respect for one's self; regard for one's character; laudable self-esteem.


© Webster 1913.

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