Best-Of Advice

On self-worth and acceptance

All my life I’ve been told I’m gorgeous and talented. Modeling contracts, Ivy League college, NYC, Paris, Milan, LA. Now I’m 40 and have no self love and a string of failed relationships. I’ve tried everything: therapy, drugs, sobriety, vision quests, psychics, celibacy, meditation, reading all the books, whatever. I’m no closer to accepting that soon, “pretty” will run out, and then what will I have going for me? Point me in the right direction, please.


Your relationships didn’t fail. They simply ran their course, and the part of you that believes you were a failure in love is the same part of you that believes your value as a human being is directly tied to an arbitrary beauty standard you happened to meet in your youth.

I can’t point you in the right direction. There is no direction. There’s nothing out there that you can smoke, seek, fuck, find, or read that will suddenly give you the self-love and acceptance you’re so desperate to discover.

You wanna know why? Because all those things you tried were just different flavors of the same old broken-souled search for external validation. All that bullshit, and it still never occurred to you that the only thing you ever had to do was forgive yourself.

Just fucking forgive yourself. Let go. That shit was never yours. It didn’t belong to you. The beauty and the talent and the hubris and the superiority — they were all someone else’s idea of you, and they felt so good for so long, you made them a part of your identity. It was all a fucking fiction, and you can just let it all go. It’s okay, really. Have a good cry, shake it off, and then forgive yourself.

Keep forgiving yourself, and keep rejecting every instinct you have to seek external validation until one day you wake up and realize that you are worthy.

You’re worthy of love. You’re worthy of acceptance. You’re just plain inherently worthy. Trust me, you don’t even know the meaning of real freedom until you finally discover what internally validated self-worth feels like.

All you gotta do is let go.


22 thoughts on “On self-worth and acceptance

  1. K says:

    What motivates you to work in your profession in Los Angeles if not some kind of external validation? How can I keep momentum while simultaneously aspiring to reject all forms of external validation? Apart from supporting myself to meet basic needs of survival, doesn’t having ambitions entail a desire for external validation? I guess these questions deviate from the original advice seeker’s issue. I guess it’s about the futility of external validation. We’re all gonna die. Yeah.

    • The Coquette says:

      I’m not suggesting that you reject external validation. I’m suggesting you reject the *need* for it. (There’s a difference between enjoying a thing and needing a thing.)

      Also, if your own personal ambitions require external validation for you to keep momentum, then they aren’t really *your* ambitions. They belong to some other person or institution, and you merely co-opted them. (If this is the case, the sooner you realize it, the sooner you won’t wind up bitter and resentful later in life.)

  2. Brooks says:

    That was really well said. However, as someone recently told me, whenever someone says ‘just’, the reality is usually ‘with great difficulty’.

  3. t. says:

    I remember the first time you were asked about pope francis being a cool pope you were basically like “fuck him, he’s still the pope.” i realize that’s the attitude i’ve held this entire time and seeing you be more accepting is making me question if that was really how i felt or if i was just parroting you (i think it was the latter..)

    • That depends on whose definition of “pretty” you’re going with, for one thing.

      I personally don’t like the term “pretty” at any age, because there’s an inherent shallow focus on sheer physical aesthetics (not that there’s anything wrong with appreciating that, but it says nothing about who a person is). I prefer “beauty,” because while it can be taken in the physical sense, the meaning is broader and includes self confidence and other qualities that can make a person attractive even if they’re nowhere close to magazine standards. And it’s something you have the potential to feel within yourself without that external validation.

      Something to look forward to in your 30s is a greater degree of self confidence, if that’s what you choose to foster in yourself (and you don’t have complicating issues like serious mental illness). Things that seemed important in your 20s aren’t necessarily going to be important in your 30s. One big difference for me – and this is even more true in my early 40s – is that more and more things get filed under the category “I don’t have time for this shit.” It’s very liberating.

      The media notion of how “pretty” you are may start to wane the further you get past 30. But as you embrace your development as a person of inherent value, your interest in being “pretty” should also wane.

      Disclaimer: the age ranges I’m talking about are mostly for general reference. Some people get there sooner, and others later (or sadly, not at all).

    • Ava says:

      Pretty doesn’t run out at thirty. I know plenty of pretty 30+ year olds. Youth runs out, which for many women is the source of their prettiness in the first place.

      • Kirsch says:

        I was sort of just complaining about how society brainwashes us into being youth-obsessed. It doesn’t matter who considers women in their 30s, 40s, or 50s pretty, because you’re still seeking external validation. It’s a moving goalpost. I don’t want to be comparing myself to women in their 50s when I hit 40 to make myself feel better.

    • Romanian Psycho says:

      It can be life changing but it won’t. Read the ego post too. Too often people say stuff like that and 2 weeks later they forget or make no chances. I believe that all the information necessary to “change our life” is out there, but the desire to act on it is nill.

      Good luck! that was a great reponse

  4. CB says:

    Holy shit. I am in a weird sleep deprived post-Folsom head space where your writing is just pouring in and resonating in my mind. I am one voice in what is probably a chorus, but thank you for doing this, your perspective has been such a great way to combat all the bullshit over the years.

  5. Romanian Psycho says:

    What does it says about me, DearCoquette if reading this post just makes me roll my eyes?

    I mean, your answer is amazing as always but how do you resist the temptation to just say ” BOO HOO, poor little beautiful, rich, intelligent, girl! suck to be you!!”. I mean that’s my gut reaction. It might be my middle-class background and current underwhelming existence that makes me…incapable of not sympathy but even empathy for a person like that.

    And I give you made props for having the power to give a fuck and listen to what is essentially – to me – a whine from someone who has it almost all.

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