They Will Never Appreciate You

An iron law of history is that greatness and goodness are rarely appreciated in their own time. Winston Churchill was more or less tossed out of office…twice. Amelia Earhart had to get a job as a social worker because no one would give her a flight (and when she finally did get one, they wouldn’t even let her in the cockpit). It’s taken more than a century for people to understand the talents and the subtle genius of Ulysses S. Grant.

The Stoics were no different. Seneca was exiled. So was Epictetus. Marcus Aurelius was dogged by various rumors of one kind or another. None of these people were fully appreciated in their own time. Even now they are given short shrift by historians and academics.

So the question is, why do you think it’s going to be any different for you?

The truth is, you will never be fully appreciated. Not by your parents. By your bosses. By your country. By your own children. But then again, why should you be? Appreciating you is not their job.

It’s your job.

That’s why it’s called self-esteem.

Expecting, or worse, demanding approval or recognition from other people is a dead end. It’s outside your circle of control. Are you going to anchor your happiness and self-worth on something as precarious as that? No, you have to base your own appreciation on the actions you take in service of what you know is right, and being the person you know it’s right to be.

Leave it at that.

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