No.9 – Branden

The challenge for people today (and it is not an easy one),

is to maintain high personal standards 

even while feeling that one is living in a moral sewer.”

- Nathaniel Branden

An upbringing by those that endeavoured a great deal for their achievements, is naturally preconceived to be inherited by the children.

A mirage of my younger self would be idealistic of this expectation, constantly striving to achieve academic excellence, with robust ambitions.

This year however, I seem to have encompassed qualities antithetical to my former self. The qualities of self doubt and inadequacy have been imposed upon me by the strains of academia and expectations; slammed altogether (quite frankly) by receiving shit results for something so much time and effort were invested in.

Although this scenario is not dissimilar to what an average student faces, in my position I find it’s exacerbated by my parents’ (poorly) masked disappointment, almost painted over by fake smiles and almost desperately self-convincing words of how things will improve.

It’s not a worry unique to myself, I understand that this constant questioning of self-worth and discouragement is synonymous to any student who’s grades don’t reflect their efforts or potential.

What’s led me to this complete destruction of self-esteem however, is the failure for family to understand the effort invested into everything I’ve done, this year.

In some ways I find nobody other than myself to blame, I for once am responsible for deciding what to study, it is therefore mandatory for me to take responsibility for my education.

The exam period thus far, has however taken a toll on my esteem and worth, I find that my cohort (with the exception of the three incredibly close to me), leave venues confident of their performance, whilst I leave dejected and fruitless for the effort I’ve invested.

It sounds perhaps like mindless whining, I mean after all who else to blame other than myself? this quickly then turns into an image of self pity but my point is that there’s the underlying anger at myself for not having performed better somehow.

Exit from the venue each time is followed by a bombardment of queries from family, that further fuel the self-embitter. The truthful divulgence of disappointment of performance to family is no longer met with false pretenses of things getting better, more so with the now unmasked and completely apparent disappointment.

I am in part grateful as true emotions are no longer concealed, it is however another esteem blow that cannot be refuted.

This feeling of failure or disappointment to one’s family is in consonance to Branden’s “Six pillars of Self-esteem” (basis of the quote), which I consider to be the apt representation of my regard to my personal esteem and worth during the past few months.

It’s been regarded stereotypically customary of asian parents to compare academically, something that is quite understandable considering their sacrifices and striving all with the intentions of providing for the children.

It however confounds me when comparisons of how the grew up get strewn into heated arguments, these are the times in which it’s just human nature to dismiss the underlying well-wishing and concentrate, mentally twist words to which you consider them belittling, such so that at the end of the arguments the only words that ring in your head are “it’s just a BSc stop acting like you’re accomplishing something no one else in the world has done!”.

I understand the good faith, the wish for just seeing their child prosper, an escape to the lives that they lived as children, this however can sometimes intensify to a point at which you lose the ability to confide in them, as you focus on their lack of empathy.


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