Monday, February 27, 2012

Is a Strong Self-Esteem a Bad Thing?

I grew up in the generation when girls were taught self-praise stinks. While boys were taught to proclaim their worth. In the early 1960's, women were valued for how clean they kept their homes and men, for how much they earned. I had it drummed into me that Mondays were for laundry, Tuesdays for ironing, Wednesdays for baking, Thursdays for cleaning the downstairs and the upstairs were cleaned on Fridays. Cooking for Sunday meals was done on Saturday as was shopping. On Sunday, the Sabbath, we rested. Is it any wonder I hate routine?

Some would say life was gentler then. But was it?

Milllions of women were sure their self-worth was tied to taking care of others. Not a bad thing, really, but what about their dreams, their desires, their needs? Then the middle sixties hit. We had the sexual revolution, the power of the peace movement and the dreams of the civil rights movement. Slowly we moved into the feminine self-affirmation movement.



Women of a younger age are more prone to draw attention to their strong points. Yay them! When I hear my granddaughter say, "I can't wait for college next year. I shall shine bright like the stars," I want to stand up and applaude. "Go, Sugar Dumplin'!"

Yet a strong self-esteem is not merely for the young, it should be for us, too. We--you and me of various ages--deserve to feel good about ourselves. About our achievements, dreams attained, goals earned. And why not? Did we not work for those things? Allow your self-esteem to germinate, to grow, to bloom.

In my novella, Those Violet Eyes, Evie is hiding behind her dream of going to college to become a teacher. Win, the new man in her life, is encouraging her to make her dream come true. But, as so often with dreams denied, the excuses are often stronger than the dream. --


Win evidently saw her determined features. He shook his head a couple times and clicked his tongue for Blaze to approach her. When his horse stopped beside hers, he glanced across the pond, watching the birds—or waiting. Damn him.

Well, she could wait, too.

She slipped a foot out of her stirrup and slung it across her saddle. Leather creaked. A bullfrog plopped into the water. Silent minutes clanged by, growing louder with each tick of some unseen clock.

“Never took you for a coward, kitten. Not with all that attitude you’ve got.” Win slid his gaze to her, his hazel eyes growing hard. “Or was that all bluster to hide a scared little girl.”

Before she thought it through, Evie slid off Molly Mae. “You come down here and say that to my face, Win Fairchild, you overbearing, pushy jerk. I’ll slap your ears so hard, they’ll make a jam sandwich. Two floppy ears jammed together, you no-brained idiot. What gives you the right to push at me like this?”

Win slipped off Blaze, all ease and grace. In a flurry of movement, he grabbed her arms and hauled her to him. “What do you want out of life, Evie? Do you want to rot away on the Double-Bar working for Dooley? Or do you want to go after your dreams?”

“Some dreams are just that—dreams.” Didn’t he understand?

Win nodded. “True. I have a dream of going back to the Corps, but it won’t happen, not with my hearing loss and amputation. I have to accept it as an unrealistic dream. I also have a dream of helping kids who’ve lost limbs to accidents or diseases. It’s going to take some work and sacrifice on my part, but I aim to do it. Got a new dream, too.” His voice grew softer and he ran his knuckles down her cheek, his gaze intent on hers.

Don’t ask.

Available June 27th from The Wild Rose Press

26 comments:

Jannine Gallant said...

God love the list of daily chores. The only thing that gets ironed around our house is the wax on the skis - and not by me! I would have failed as a woman of the 50's. Inspiring blog, Vonnie, and I loved the excerpt.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Very interesting post. It's even worse growing up in Scotland where we daren't be too full of ourselves or we get knocked down! But a healthy self-esteem is a must now, especially for authors.

Jerri Hines said...

Love your spirit, Vonnie. Great blog. Love the title to your new book!

Vonnie Davis said...

Jannine, imagine ironing sheets and men's underwear in the heat of summer. Amen to progress!

Vonnie Davis said...

Rosemary, how right you are. Self-esteem is a must as we promote ourselves. Here's a perfect example of generational differences. I was lamenting in our writers' group here in Lynchburg, VA, how hard it was to promote myself, as if I were saying "buy me, I wrote this fabulous book." A young man in our group flicked back his dreadlocks and said, "Why is it so hard for you to say how great you are? Believe me, if I ever get published, I won't have any problems doing it." He really thought me strange; that much was evident in the way he looked at me. Thanks for stopping by and commenting on this "strange woman's" post.

Vonnie Davis said...

Thanks, Jerri. You always leave such positive comments. Hugs to you this Monday--and every day.

Laura Breck said...

Very true, Vonnie. It's great to see each new generation of women becoming stronger and more self aware.

Jan Romes said...

Loved your thoughts on self-esteem, Vonnie! I'm a rather shy person (although one would find that hard to believe since I'm tweeting like I'm an extrovert). I, too, have a hard time with the self-promo (especially in person). We just didn't do that -- in our day. But it's a new day/time. It's still not all about me, but we should embrace the fact that it's okay to say 'see what I've done, have a look-see'. Also, your book, Those Violet Eyes, sounds amazing! (and June will be here before you know it).

Best wishes, Vonnie!!

Jan

Vonnie Davis said...

I love that self-assertedness of younger women, Laura. I will confess that at times it puts me off for a few beats until I roll it around in my mind and examine it. Old ingrained opinions are often hard to get beyond, but when we do, our minds expand into this fabulous arena. Women are wonderfully strong.

Vonnie Davis said...

Thanks, Jan. Yes, it is MORE than OK to draw attention to our achievements. My husband taught me this. He is always in my corner, whispering in my ear that I can do anything. He is my constant hero and cheerleader.

Mona Risk said...

Great blog, Vonnie. Really, women did all that? My grandmother was always in the kitchen. I can't remember her anywhere else. Mom worked as a teacher and later prepared a Ph.D. at forty after we went to college. She hired a woman to clean our house and do the laundry. She sent my Dad's shirts to the cleaner's every week. She sew our dresses but taught us to knit our own sweaters at the age of ten. Of course she would fix any mistakes and add the collar and sleeves. She always said she was too busy to do housework, and we followed suit. LOL

Vonnie Davis said...

Oh, Mona, your mother was a wise, wise woman. Yay her! Yay you for following suit.

Jennifer Jakes said...

Being born in the 60s -- yet being raised by a woman born in the 40s, I got to see both sides of this coin. Society was pulling me one way, yet my upbringing was that of the only "way" my mom ever knew. It took me a loooooong time to not feel guilty about wanting something for me.
Great post! And you know I can't wait for VE to release!
Hugs-

Mackenzie Crowne said...

I was in the same boat as Jennifer. BUT, my mom was a woman before her time, raising eight kids and holding down a full time nursing job. She just never took anyone's crap. And Dad never missed an opportunity to boost we kid's self esteem.

I love that the new generation of women doesn't suffer under beliefs of old, then again, I worry about them being too focused on how wonderful they are, when so much of their self worth is tied to how they look these days.

Ah, the dilemmas of the modern woman.

Great post, Vonnie. I love how you seamlessly slipped right into Violet Eyes. Another lesson for a new blogger.

Vonnie Davis said...

Jennifer, why is it we often feel guilty for wanting things for ourselves? In a man, it's considered ambition. In a woman, it's too often thought of as selfishness. I think you're going to like VE.

Vonnie Davis said...

Oh Mac, eight kids and a job as a nurse, too? Your mother was one phenomenal lady. Wow!

Jannine Gallant said...

Oh Mac, I couldn't let your comment go without telling you how much I agree. I constantly tell my girls that how they act is more important than how they look. It's like beating my head against a wall!

LaVerne Clark said...

Vonnie - your granddaughter is going to make her mark on the world and with people like you and Calvin in her life, she has the very best to balance and guide her.

The excerpt once again gave me shivers. I can't wait to read it! And that date is very special to me too :) We're release sisters - yay!!

Nancy Jardine said...

Very inspiring,Vonnie. My mother loved ironingand spent hours doing everything and I mean everything! Me-not so much :-( Nice excerpt and I think I'm going to like his dream. The mountain/flowers photograph is just beautiful.

Vonnie said...

Vonnie, I think national characteristics apply here. There are many countries where big-noting is not only frowned upon; it's scorned. I am a New Zealander and they are quite self-effacing. We moved to Australia where they are definitly not backward about coming forward. Myself, I like people who have a quiet self-confidence, but I mistrust anyone who is so loaded with confidence that he is objectionable.

Vonnie Davis said...

Jannine, I wonder as a Mother how you can combat society. Hard, isn't it? My beloved daughter-in-law was fighting anexoria when my son met her. She was in the recovery stage and speaking to high school-aged girls at the time. One of their first dates was Mike going along to hear her speak. She figured if he could handle her illness and the pictures she would share where she weighed 80 lbs, their relationship might stand a chance. She said when he stood, whistled and applauded at the end of her speech, she was relieved. When he picked her up and spun her around, declaring to one and all, he'd never met a more awesome woman, she knew he was the one. Now, 7 years later, she's the heaviest she's ever been (size 4)and is off all meds. Mike has taught her to eat more and visit the gym 6 days a week. Now she enjoys a huge bowl of ice cream every night with zero guilt.

Vonnie Davis said...

LaVerne...REALLY?? We're release sisters? Wow, that makes my day!

Vonnie Davis said...

I remember ironing everything I could get my hands on the day before I went into labor with my second child. Go figure!! So pleased you enjoyed my excerpt and I think you'll enjoy Win's dream, too.

Vonnie Davis said...

Vonnie -- Thanks for your words of wisdom. Having a quiet self-confidence is commendable, isn't it? I much prefer that to self-bragging. --Vonnie

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Vonnie! Well I'm a day late and a dollar short again. Sorry. I remember not having much self-esteem growing up. Feeling insecure is a tough thing, but it gave me stronger character. Slowly I discovered how much I had to offer, and instead of confidence, I believe I developed competence, which led to earned confidence. I do worry about folks who have big self-esteem but nothing to back it up. There really does seem to need to be a balance.

As always, I enjoyed your blog, and I'm so glad you discovered your inner author!

Vonnie Davis said...

Thanks so much Lynne. I like what you said about developing competence. That's a sterling quality that can't be denied.