By Nicolle

I turned on the TV on Saturday to watch Northern Illinois beat Kansas (and ruin my bracket), and one of the most well-known cosmetic ad campaigns appeared. Eva Longoria floated across the screen telling viewers how great her L’Oreal hair color was (even though I’m fairly certain a star as big as Eva would never trust a box color to intensify her dark locks). She finished her seductive monologue with L’Oreal’s famous catch phrase: “Because you’re worth it.”

That’s what our generation has been inundated with: Worthiness. We’re worth that brand-new car, the expensive overseas vacation, that couture dress, those season tickets to Target Field. And we’re worth it even if we can’t really afford it.

I’m not saying any one of those desires is bad, or that no one should ever travel outside their home country or experience baseball outdoors. But what can be extremely detrimental is when our personal L’Oreal attitude carries over into our relationships.

A friend of mine dated a guy who her friends deemed “not good enough for her.” They said he wasn’t as smart as her, he wasn’t as attractive as her and he didn’t have as much ambition in his career as she did. So she broke up with him to look for someone better.

She’s still looking.

Another friend of mine dated a girl who was crazy about him. He wasn’t sure about the relationship, and thought he deserved someone who wasn’t so worried about his whereabouts and for whom he had equally intense feelings. He broke up with her, only to discover a few months later that she was the person who’d been keeping him sane and out of trouble. When he tried to explain that to her, she wouldn’t take him back.

He’s still looking.

Ad campaigns like L’Oreal’s have given us a distorted sense of self and relationships. If we think we’re worth everything, then we’re not willing to take a chance on anything. If something is not quite good enough, we convince ourselves that there’s got to be something better – and if we don’t hold out for that “something better” we’re not doing justice to our worth.

When we cling to that mindset unknowingly, we end up with a “why suffer?” mentality. If we’re not completely satisfied with what our relationship is providing us, or things get rough for a period of time, or someone questions us, we bail. We tell ourselves that we don’t deserve to suffer; we’re worth more than the pain this person or relationship is inflicting on us.

But we’re wrong.

Does anybody deserve love? The simple answer is no. No one really does because no one is perfect. What’s so great about life and people is that we can choose to overlook those imperfections and to love individuals despite their unworthiness.

But, to accomplish such a daunting task, we have to realize that we’re in the same undeserving place as everyone else. Once we put ourselves on that level, we’re more capable of empathizing with people, of seeing our brokenness in them and expressing our love in unexpected ways.

Our sense of entitlement has to be curbed in order to have relationships that really matter, relationships that can impact and change us. Without those kinds of relationships, we’d all be hermits, further indoctrinating ourselves with undue worthiness. No one would ever be good enough.

I don’t ever want to hear that I’m not good enough. I’d much prefer to hear that I’m worth it. But if I can’t look past what I “deserve” and take a risk on a relationship that might cause me some pain, I can’t ask anyone else to do the same for me – no matter what L’Oreal says.