Photo of Joan Didion

Joan Didion // "Self-deception remains the most difficult deception. The tricks that work on others count for nothing in that well-lit back alley where one keeps assignations with oneself; no winning smiles will do here, no prettily drawn lists of good intentions. One shuffles flashily but in vain through ones’ marked cards the kindness done for the wrong reason, the apparent triumph which involved no real effort, the seemingly heroic act into which one had been shamed. The dismal fact is that self-respect has nothing to do with the approval of others... 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 depends, of course, on whether or not we respect ourselves... Self-respect...has nothing to do with the face of things, but concerns instead a separate peace, a private reconciliation... People with self-respect exhibit a certain toughness, a kind of moral nerve... Self-respect is...a certain discipline, the sense that one lives by doing things one does not particularly want to do, by putting fears and doubts to one side, by weighing immediate comforts against the possibility of larger, even intangible, comforts.... Self-respect is a discipline, a habit of mind that can never be faked but can be developed, trained, coaxed forth."