From Joan Didion, “On Self-Respect”
“To have that sense of one’s intrinsic worth which constitutes self-respect is potentially to have everything: the ability to discriminate, to love and to remain indifferent. To lack it is to be locked within oneself, paradoxically incapable of either love or indifference. If we do not respect ourselves, we are on the one hand forced to despise those who have so few resources to consort with us, so little perception as to remain blind to our fatal weaknesses. On the other, we are peculiarly in thrall to everyone we see, curiously determined to live out–since our self-image is untenable–their false notions of us. We flatter ourselves by thinking this compulsion to please others is an attractive trait: a gist for imaginative empathy, evidence of our willingness to give. […] At the mercy of those we cannot but hold in contempt, we play roles doomed to failure before they are begun, each defeat generating fresh despair at the urgency of divining and meeting the next demand made upon us.”
I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction lately, mostly memoirs and snapshots of certain historical moments. I’ve been tearing through Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem and I thought I share a quote that really spoke to me.
I hope you enjoyed.