Do you know the difference between pride and self-esteem? Here is my much contemplated response that I have taken years to come up with:

Pride is a feeling of excessive self-worth, and it does not by any means equate to actually loving yourself. For example, if you don’t like to be wrong and always eager to appear perfect to people, then that is pride. I would say it is a form of egotism. On the other hand, self-esteem is where you value yourself, regardless of what others may think of you, not necessarily in an egotistical fashion. If you truly appreciate who you are, you have high self-esteem: your value of yourself does not alter according to changes in your weight, others’ low opinion of you, or whatever does not affect your ‘being’.

Embarrassing to say, I’m a very proud person. I believe my pride is the fundamental source of my perfectionist character. I’m always anxious to come across perfect in all senses, be it my intelligence, my look, and so on. An example to demonstrate my high pride would be this: one of my strongest motivations to study hard during my A-level years was to get into a prestigious university, purely so others will not look down on me. Getting into a mediocre university would have killed my pride.

However, there is a vast chasm between my high pride and my low self-esteem. I can’t say I regard myself in high esteem, and particularly in terms of appearance. More often than not, I consider myself physically unattractive, which inevitably makes me conscious of my looks to a very unhealthy degree. Moreover, my focus in life is in the main on ‘becoming’ rather than ‘being’ – that is, I’m always trying to become something more, whilst not recognising and appreciating my present self.

Some might say this obsession with becoming something more fuels progress in life, but in effect this unhealthy obsession holds you back. You are so focused on what you want to become that it is hard to feel happy about your current situation. Think about Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby: the protagonist’s ongoing obsession with his dream of being back with his young lover Daisy traps him in the past, and he is never happy with his current self. Despite a great deal of progress and success he’s made (although illicitly), he seems to regard his life as a failure, and reclaiming Daisy back into his life is the only way to stop his years of emotional blight.

High pride and low self-esteem is not a rare mix of emotions, though. I personally know some people who suffer from this seemingly odd combination of psychology. My idea is that having high pride often means you have high expectations of yourself, and when reality does not meet your expectations, it is easy to feel frustrated. Besides, just because someone ‘appears’ confident does not mean they really are confident with themselves. I am a perfect specimen of this. I like to voice my opinions, and am not afraid to do so. This outspoken personality has led many people to say I seem very confident (and headstrong!). However like I’ve said above, I suck at loving myself. I am by no means confident with who I am. Growing self-esteem while toning down my pride has proven a challenging task for many years. Will it be ever possible to triumph over the persistent sense of insecurity? I really don’t know.

(Original post is from my personal blog)