there's a viral epidemic plaguing young people today. i’m not talking about the addiction to social media or vain obsession with physical appearance; i think one of the most dangerous habits of this generation is the tendency to spit out self-deprecating jokes like they're actually funny.

shouting "i hate myself LOL" and bragging about how much of a failure you are is a sad attempt at humor. i cannot count the number of times i’ve witnessed scenes like this, usually from the same few people, but i can tell you it happens way more often than it should.

the problem with "jokes" about self-hatred is that so many people actually struggle with discontentment and comparison. i, for one, battle feelings of inadequacy and constant, self-inflicted pressure to measure up to everyone around me. it's so important to speak words of grace and kindness over yourself and others, to better live lives of joy and fulfillment.

some students hate themselves for the smallest unproductive moments of their days, and many adults feel inferior for not multitasking as well as they think "the rest of the world" does.

after recognizing this problem and why it is harmful, the next step is seeking to encourage everyone around you-- including yourself. if you think taking such a drastic step as caring about yourself and others is going to be impossible, first change your words. for the sake of the people around you, if not for your own, adjust the way you speak about yourself. "speak life", if you will, and stop the self-deprecation.

just to be clear, i’m not suggesting that we all go around boasting about how great we are. there’s a difference between self-love and conceit, just like there's a difference between self-deprecation and realism. if you're feeling like trash, take a deep breath and keep your head up. instead of telling yourself that this temporary feeling defines your life, don't proclaim to the world that you're moving out into the dumpster and instead focus on moving forward and upward. a lot of good can come out of what you think is your worst failure if you take every experience as a chance to grow.

in conclusion, to quote my favorite book of all time, i want you all to know that "those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves." (peter pan).