Earlier this afternoon I was on YouTube watching through all the NBA playoff highlight reels. During my lazy adventure I noticed a short video by Colin Cowherd reacting to the death of an ex-football player. The football player’s name was Aaron Hernandez, a  tight end for the New England Patriots from 2010-2012. He was convicted of murder charges and was sentenced to prison. Today, security found him hanged and he was pronounced dead at around 4 a.m. 

As I was listening to Colin Cowherd’s reaction I kept thinking about what Hernandez may have been feeling. You were just convvicted of murder and essentially sentenced to prison for life. You’ve disappointed your family and friends and lost your freedom. People hate you, despise you and are disgusted by you. You’ve taken away a person from a family and probably feel like the most despicable person ever. As a result, you try to desensitize yourself from your responsiblilities and act like an uncaring, unfeeling human being. You take in the hate, the loathing of other people and continue to carry on. Eventually, the burden of the guilt and shame become too much and you start realizing, “I hate myself.” 

“I hate myself” is a phrase that is becoming more and more common in teens and younger adults. Those with low self-esteem are constantly put into situations and circumstances where they must “prove” themselves to be worthy rather than be reminded their immense value. A certain materialistic standard needs to be reached before one can even start to be acknowledged. There are students that make grades such a major part of who they are that they consider suicide when they get a failing grade. People that feel lonely resort to pranks and misdeeds to gain more and more attention. Others who have been bullied fall into drug and substance abuse as a way to feel “happy” again. For a short period of my life, I was a pastor and during that time I heard all kinds of stories about people’s struggles. People felt unworthy, students thought their parents loved them based on what grade they earned and others experienced abuse and questioned their purpose for living. The startling trend that I found was that most, if not all these people said “I hate myself” at least once and many of them also struggled with severe depression and self-esteem issues. 

It’s difficult to high self-esteem in a society where accolades, accomplishments and individual ability is highly coveted. People’s obsession over what other people have has created a world where human value has had its importance stripped away. Human value has deteriorated to being about, the height of GPA, the scores of SAT/GRE, the experience of a worker, the appearance of classiness, the number of diplomas, etc. Human value is not scored or priced based on materialistic accolades that other people give. Living in a place where materialistic possession, accolades and skills makes it near impossible for one to love oneself. There will always be someone better or someone who can do more. There will always be a goal you couldn’t reach because of your financial status, or your lack of ability, or your lack of accomplishments. If people could just take a step back and really take time to think about the value of the person who is in front of them, then this world wouldn’t be so caught up in trying to be busy for the sake of being busy.

For the people that cannot love themselves please know that your very existence is precious. The fact that you breathe air and call yourself human is the beauty of you. Don’t make accomplishments your life, or your GPA, or what school you go to, or even what job you get. Make it about realizing your immense value as a person and helping others realize their immense values as people.

“Your ordinary acts of love and hope point to the extraordinary promise that every human life is of inestimable value.” – Desmond Tutu

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