On Self-Respect, By Joan Didion

Sometimes I hate that I love people like Joan Didion and Joni Mitchell as much as I do.

Of course they're great, and of course my admiration and repeated playings of "Blue" are sound but my god are they cliche. These are the same people that every girl with wavy brown hair girl in every city in the world loves. But that doesn't change anything. I still love them, and I still like my hair. 

Because I've never read it, I've recently been working on Joan Didion's "Slouching Towards Bethlehem". I know "Goodbye To All That" and have even read this – which I would highly recommend to anyone who has moved from New York, so long as they feel that they're "ready" to read it. 

But while getting to "Goodbye To All That", which is the last essay of the book, I came across an essay written in 1961 that I underlined so much I figured I should say something about it.

And so, here are a few of my favorite lines from Joan Didion's "On Self-Respect":

Image by Julian Wasser, whose work is currently on display through March 21 at the Danziger Gallery in New York. 

Image by Julian Wasser, whose work is currently on display through March 21 at the Danziger Gallery in New York. 

"...self-deception remains the most difficult deception. The tricks that work on others count for nothing in that very well-lit back alley where one keeps assignations with oneself: no winning smiles will do here, no prettily drawn lists of good intentions."

"To do without self-respect...is to be an unwilling audience of one to an interminable documentary that details one's failings, both real and imagined, with fresh footage spliced in for every screening."

"To live with self-respect is to lie awake some night, beyond the reach of warm milk...counting up the sins of commission and omission, the trusts betrayed, the promises subtly broken, the gifts irrevocably wasted through sloth or cowardice or carelessness. However long we postpone it, we eventually lie down alone in that notoriously uncomfortable bed, the one we make ourselves. Whether or not we sleep in it, of course, depends on whether or not we respect ourselves."

"...people with self-respect have the courage of their mistakes. They know the price of things."

"...character – the willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life – is the source from which self-respect springs."

"Without it, one eventually discovers the final turn of the screw; one runs away to find oneself, and finds no one at home."


Robin Reetz

I’m an expat currently living between London and North Carolina. I'm the Home & Living Editor at Clementine Daily, handle partnerships and more at DesignGood, and create content for folks like Teen Vogue. Also, I love independent designers. Find out more about me here: http://secondfloorflat.com/about-me/