“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” – Marilyn Monroe
This quote has found its way onto the social media profiles of teenage girls and young women around the world. When I first saw it when I was fourteen, I loved it. It made me feel that all my teenage angst and insecurity were acceptable.
And to its credit, it does get a couple of things right. It correctly shows us that:
- We don’t have to be perfect, or even close to it, to deserve love.
- A good partner or friend is considerate and generally willing to give us the benefit of the doubt.
Despite its virtues though, I have grown to despise it. In the past few years whenever I’ve seen it crop up on my Facebook feed, I’ve rolled my eyes in response.
I’m now convinced that with this quote, Marilyn got more things wrong than she did right. There are three implications of the quote that we must unknow:
1. That it’s ok to be an a**hole
There is no excuse for being an inconsiderate jerk who treats the people around us poorly. But this quote implies that it’s ok to do that, as long we counteract it with “being at our best” now and then. In reality, it’s the other way around. If we try to be “at our best” most of the time, people are more likely to put up with us when we do slip into obnoxiousness.
2. That it’s ok to remain “at our worst”
Another implication of this is that we should just accept our character flaws and never try to change. This ties in with a fixed mindset that a lot of people have: they think that their flaws are a fundamental part of them that they have no control over. This mentality is objectively false – we can overcome character flaws like “selfishness, impatience and insecurity” if we choose to do so. While nobody can be “flawless”, we owe it to ourselves and the people we love to improve ourselves as much as we can.
3. That we’re entitled to unconditional love and support just for existing
Nobody is entitled to any of these things. We earn love, support and consideration from others when we prove, through consistent good behaviour, that we are worthy of receiving them.
Also, we should only ask of other people what we can give back to them ourselves. So if you’re not willing to put up with someone else’s bullshit without complaint, don’t demand they do it for you.