For Release January 7, 2003

Community Self-esteem

by Chuck Otte, Geary County Extension Agent

Self-esteem is that part of ones self that dictates how you feel about yourself. In fact if you look it up in the dictionary it says pride in oneís self. Self-esteem is important because it really dictates how we respond to the world around us. People with high self-esteem are often very upbeat and positive. They are the ones who are always turning lemons into lemonade. People with low self-esteem are often the ones who are convinced that everything happens to only them. As the one writer once said, "Life isnít about what happens to you, but how you react to what happens to you."

Self-esteem is not a genetic trait. It is a learned trait that is strongly influenced by the home and social environment that one grows up in. And just like any other learned trait, someone with low self-esteem can develop higher self-esteem if they have the desire, the support and a little leadership.

Interestingly, organizations and communities have self-esteem also. After all, the personality of a community or organization is nothing more than a reflection of the combined individuals attitudes and self-esteem. Even though Iíve now lived in this community for over 20 years, I still find it easy to view things from the outside. And something that Iíve seen over and over is that our community suffers from low self-esteem.

What evidence do I have of this? Simple, listen to yourselves. How many times, during the discussion of the new convention center, did you hear somebody say, or did you say yourself, "Who would want to come to Junction City for a convention?" Sound familiar? I thought so. How many times have you heard someone say, "Oh, thatíll never work here." These are self defeatist comments from a community with low self-esteem.

We become so accustomed to what we have, that we take it for granted. Here we are in the Flint Hills. A place that is so beautiful that when I first came here in the fall of 1977, I immediately fell in love with it. Then four years later I was lucky enough to get a job here. I doubt that I will ever leave. Then you top off that beauty with the largest lake in Kansas, and what I consider to be the most beautiful lake. This brings with it a lot of public accessible land for recreation, something that is in very short supply in Kansas.

Junction City and Ft. Riley have a lot of history surrounding them. The old west and the cavalry hold a special draw for a lot of tourists. But beause we are around it all the time, we take it for granted. Then you can reach out from Junction City to Abilene, Council Grove and Manhattan and gather in even more history.

We have a lot of special attractions in this area. One of the most overlooked are the residents of Junciton City and Geary County. People that are a very friendly and helping group. But we donít think very highly of community. Other people come here and see the beauty that we overlook. Iíve yet to hear anybody outside of our community say anything bad after visiting here. But I hear plenty of us saying negative things.

Take some time to step outside yourself and look at our community with new and fresh eyes. We are special and we have a lot to be proud of. Take time to re-explore Junction City and Geary County and all we have to offer, and then start developing a new pride in who and what we are!


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