Take Me As I Am

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:57 PM EDT, 20 January 2010

Mary J. Blige
Mary J. Blige

When I first saw the video by Mary J. Blige titled, “Take Me As I Am,” I was recovering from a life long addiction to personal and work relationships in which I allowed myself and my talents to be undervalued and unappreciated. It is said that with age comes wisdom, and in my case this is true, though I know a lot of old fools. Now, as a mature woman, I recognize my power and worth and because of this I have regained my self-respect.

Though the "The Breakthrough" album was released nearly five years ago, the track "Take Me As I Am" is a song that captures the anguish of abuse that is a consequence of disrespect.  This post was inspired by this song which I play often because it speaks to me, and by the quote “if you want to be respected by others the great thing is to respect yourself. Only by that, only by self-respect will you compel others to respect you.” ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Every woman or man alive has at one time been in a place where they have compromised their internal truth for some external gain. Sometimes this occurs during great hardship and tragedy where one’s very survival depends upon setting aside morality and self-respect to preserve one’s life or the lives of loved ones.

However, in mundane circumstances the potential to compromise self-respect most often occurs within the context of intimate relationships. Human interactions serve as a mirror that affords each of us the opportunity to either honestly regard ourselves and our actions, or to peer into its dark depths like Narcissus, and fall in love with false personae that we are all capable of projecting.


Each of us is susceptible to Narcissus' fate, for though we do not literally drown in an attempt to unite with our reflections, each of us can conjure at will an unrealistic image of our perfect mate. When we engage in a relationship with a person that most closely approximates this vision we will often do anything to keep them.

It is true that an equal number of people have disrespected themselves for inanimate objects such as drugs, money, or material possessions, but it is easy to disguise our lack of self-respect in pursuit of these items because our debasement often occurs in privacy of our minds. It is more difficult to disguise a lack of self-respect within the context of interpersonal relationships.

Intimate relationships most often provide the fertile soil in which self-abasement can take root. In the beginning, the inequity between partners is easily sublimated by the heady euphoria of lust and unfamiliarity. Then, as the adage goes, “familiarity breeds contempt” and because of this, many men and women have suffered the indignities attributed to loving someone who does not reciprocate the feeling.

A healthy sense of self-worth can strengthen a person's resolve to wait for the right situation, the right partner, at the right time. One of the greatest values of self-respect is empowerment. When we rely on external validation, whether through the fawning public and media, as in the case of famous people, or through significant relationships, as in the case of every human being, life becomes a series of rapturous highs and devastating lows. Essentially, we transfer control of our self-worth into the hands of an unworthy judge. Reclaiming one's power and control is the message conveyed by this song which is an anthem for anyone struggling to rediscover their worth.

Self-respect is a tool by which human beings can realize their highest potential and greatest good.  It is only after one has learn to value oneself that you can value another person, even one who has rejected you.  Self-respect frees an individual to honestly assess personal interactions to determine if someone is a good fit for an intimate relationship or even friendship.  Concomitantly this realization should not imply that the individual is defective, because self-respect requires us to recognize the rights and feelings of people who may not fit within our world view.  Thus, we become free to be ourselves and to allow others to do likewise if we honestly and openly proclaim to the world "this is who I am."

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