No matter how much we criticize others, point out their mistakes or mock them, we are still our own worst enemy. We beat ourselves up for every mistake and failure. Even those who take pleasure in finding fault in others are almost always seeking to punish what they hate so much in themselves. Nothing runs deeper than the pain of not loving ourselves. Low self-esteem is like the little pig's house of straw: one blow to our ego and it all comes crashing down.
Building up our self-esteem is lifelong process. If we're lucky, our parents will set us up on the right foundation by praising our accomplishments, patting us on the back because we tried our best, believing in us, and being positive role models. Even with a good start, though, there's plenty of bumping and bruising along the way, and a constant need to prove ourselves worthy. High school, making friends, all the way to our first job interview is like walking a gauntlet. Every time we stumble, we must pick up the pieces and rebuild our sense of self.
Queendom.com analyzed data from nearly 13,000 test-takers of their popular Self-Esteem Test to obtain a clearer picture of how we see ourselves. Statistics reveal an average score of 61 on self-esteem (on a scale from 0-100), indicating that most of us are still in that rebuilding process, but generally feel fairly good about ourselves. Five different aspects of self-esteem were assessed, including Feeling of Inadequacy, Sense of Self-Worth, Need for Approval, Unrealistic Self-Expectations, and Sense of Social Acceptance. While gender differences were actually quite small, Queendom.com's results do reveal that women slightly, but significantly, outscored men on Need for Approval (score of 45 vs. 42) and Sense of Social Acceptance (63 vs. 62), and men marginally outscored women on Unrealistic Self-expectations (38 vs. 37).
Age differences were quite surprising. Those between the ages of 18-24 and 40+ showed the highest self-esteem (64 and 65 respectively) as well as a greater sense of self-worth (67 for both groups) and social acceptance (65 and 67 respectively). Need for approval dropped after age 40, as did unrealistic self-expectations. Feeling of inadequacy, however, was highest for those below 17 (score of 42), and then peaked again between the ages of 25-40.
"It just comes to show that self-esteem, while changeable, can indeed be improved, no matter where you are in the lifespan," explains Dr. Jerabek, president of the company. "Between the ages of 18-24, we've survived the rites of passage of the teenage years and have solidified our identity. We're rejuvenated, and excited to start a new and better chapter of our lives. As time passes and we find ourselves having to prove our worth once again as new employees, spouses, and parents, our self-esteem can take a bit of hit," theorizes Dr. Jerabek. "But by age 40, we're pretty much settled with who we are, more flexible and compassionate with ourselves, and thankfully, less nitpicky. That's something to look forward to!"