The Self-Esteem Workout

When I was writing my bestselling self-help guide That’s Right, I Forgot, You’re ‘Trying’ and maybe, to a lesser extent, its follow up Wow: You Are A Disgrace, I always thought about one thing—the people. Well, I was also having the Self-Esteem head office hot tub installed at the time, so, probably, to be fair, the people and the office hot tub. You can’t have a hot tub without a remote entertainment system, so, probably, the sweet tunes that my entertainment system was going to play, the office hot tub, and the people. In that order, especially the hot tub.

What I thought about the people is that other people are rarely correct. For example, when I was in college people constantly said to me, “You’re never gonna make it if you keep on dressing like David Lee Roth,” but where were these campus Solomons when I was named “Guy Who Looks Most Like David Lee Roth” at the Flori-Bama Gulf Coast Halloween Bash? They were jealously looking upon me while they went on with their “careers” and “happy relationships.” It was like these fools couldn’t even dare to dream.

“Dare to be a Daniel” is a phrase I often heard as a child and while I never could be sure if that meant Daniel Stern (the voice-over actor from The Wonder Years) or Daniel Day-Lewis (the voice-over actor from the Jiffy-Lube commercials) you can bet those old boys didn’t let the wisdom of the people deter them from living out their dreams. Maybe I was lucky because of my education, I know, and I can’t deny I wasn’t profoundly affected by all the old professors who told me my dream of becoming a poet and self-help guru was “perfectly fine because, in the end, we’re all gonna be dead.”

In order to achieve the self-esteemiest kind of self-esteem, it takes a kind of certainty about the path you’re on. It means if you find yourself every night eating Count Chocula over the sink wondering why you can’t even have a single friend, then you should just realize you’re a lone wolf with a sweet tooth. Of course, if you’re eating Franken-Berry over the sink wondering why you can’t even have a single friend, that’s kind of horrible and chances are you’re just a horrible human being.

People like to put labels on other people. Labels like “unhirable,” “uncool,” and “unwelcome in at least four different bars in Alexandria, Virginia.” The challenge for a thinking, full blooded person is to not let others define you in such cheap and stupid ways. You’re better off defining yourself as imminently capable of buying clothes that will not make you look like somebody who was just kicked out of a chicken wing eating contest for being too drunk. Do you think David Lee Roth was ever kicked out of a chicken wing contest? And I don’t care what the Trenton County Register says about Mr. Roth’s night at Señor Clucky’s Hot Wingapalooza 2009, I think the answer is no.

If you’ve ever been to the Self-Esteem head offices and waited in the lobby only to be asked “Who are you?” I think you should look upon such moments as your great opportunity to define yourself in terms which are not defined by others. That’s why at the head office the best answer to “Who are you?” is when you can truthfully say “I’m Randy Moss.” It may seem odd to hear, but Randy Moss knows he’s Randy Moss and that’s why Randy Moss is up on the Self-Esteem’s “Wall of Fame,” right beside Gwyneth Paltrow and Chef Boyardee. Those cats know who they are and they know not to ask “Exactly what events does the Charity for Events fund?”

In the seventeen years I have been writing this column, I have learned a lot of things, not least of which is to never question the dubious amount of taffy used in Matrix Magazine’s Annual Taffy-Pull. But, I have never once let the voice of the people deter the mission of Self-Esteem raising, particularly when it involves feeling good about spending that little extra for cable television from Mexico. You can bow down to the opinions of others all you want but what is that going to get you? My friends, you don’t get where I am, enjoying nights in designer bathrobes crested with our mascot, a furry warrior-Teddy Bear that seems to look you in the eye and say “I don’t care what the people say, least of you George Lucas and your army of Disney attorneys.”

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