Looking back when in high school, we would feel having friends who supports and acknowledge your accomplishments is great and sometimes becomes the main goal. But those who already “settled” with their job being happy and fulfilled everyday would know that even just having the chance to work and create something they love is the best feeling.
The difference between these two set of situation are one tells us about self-esteem and one tells us about self-actualization. But it doesn’t necessarily have something to do with age, just because one is high shool and the other is work. In fact, there are early teenagers who already earn money and have a job as gamers, writers, tech reviewers, etc.
Firstly, let’s talk about the terms itself. These two term appears in Maslow Hierarchy of Needs which is the theory of motivation. The theory itself represents a pyramid which explains levels of needs. The lowest and first one is physiological needs which are food, water and air. Second comes the safety and security needs. Third comes the affiliatio needs such as realtionship, friendship and love. The last two, which we’ll talk about, is self-esteem and self-actualization.
People who have fulfilled their needs in the lower level will try to level up and fulfill their needs in the upper level. Though still even though we already in the second level we still need food and water, the system is dynamic. It depends on the individual how to fulfill the needs. Sometimes the need of security in one person is more intense than the other, personality also affect how the needs are fulfilled.
If all the needs are in check, one can reach the pinnacle of the hierarchy which is actualization. But often people misunderstood and thought that self-esteem is the top of the hierarchy without even knowing there are something “bigger” in life.
Self esteem is the subjective evaluation of one’s worth. Basically Abraham Maslow, the one who came up with the concept, explains the sources that is used to fulfill this need and he divide them into two. First, the need of respect from others is obtained by the form of recognition and admiration. Second, the need of self-respect in the form of self-love, skill or aptitude. Each individual expresses their need differently. Buying clothes, bags or latest phone might fulfill your need of recognition but if you buy things because you want to prove yourself that you deserve new clothes, bags or latest phone you will fulfill your need of self-love.
There’s something about putting our worth in someone else’s hand. If it doesn’t go our way and they don’t give the admiration or the regocnition we aim for, our self-esteem goes down. A low self-esteem can trigger mental illness such as depression or anxiety for some.
“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” — Dave Ramsey
I couldn’t agree more with this scenario. Often we witness people who do things to get validation from the people around them. Sometimes it’s so clear to see when people are not acting themselves just to get attention from other people. Those people could be our friends, family or even ourselves.
This scenario is too common to see that we start to believe that it’s fine. Throughout every life we have so limited time to actually live it. It’s either we run the time or the time run our lives. Imagine chasing people’s recognition, you’ll never gonna see the an end of the tunnel. Because people expectation can go higher and they will never know your limit. The only one who knows (your limit) is you. Trying to fulfill impossible expectation of other people will create distress and lower your self-worth.
You deserve your own peace and worth. By putting the energy that is aimed for getting those validation to getting your peace and worth will fulfill your need of self-esteem more. Chasing your own goal because you want them yourselves, you will try to have the best attitude and respect the goals of other people. Not only you know your limit so it is more realistic, but also you will earn respect by doing your best to fulfill your need of self-esteem in the best attitude. You will treat others the way you want to be treated. In a company, the leader who have a high self-esteem will take himself/herself into account and not easily swayed by others’ opinion, even if his/her decision is not a popular one.
When the need of self-esteem fulfilled we move on to the next level. You can see people who persure their self-actualization have accepted themselves both the good and the bad. Basically is the realization of someone’s potentials. It can be anything one can be.
“[w]hat a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization” — Maslow, 1943
Self-actualization can be thought of as the full realization of one’s unique creative, intellectual, or social potential. It is usually a very personal experience. It is very different from one another. This might raise a huge question mark. So what does it loo like when somebody reaches self-actualization?
According to Maslow, a musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately happy. Where there lay perceptions of realizing one’s full potential are linked to the fundamental motive of achieving status and esteem ( Krems et al. (2017)). There are several people who had achieved self-actualization, such as :
- Albert Einstein
- Frederick Douglas
- Eleanor Roosevelt
- Thomas Jefferson
- Abraham Lincoln
You might thought, oh well these are famous people — what do i get to do with this? But the core of self-actualization is never about fame. It’s about realization of one’s unique creative, intellectual, or social potential. All the money or becoming the most famous person in the world is secondary for someone who is actualizing themselves.
At the end of the line, it’s all about chasing goalsand doing your purpose.