Finally I have been reading Joan Didion's collection of essays Slouching Towards Bethlehem, after it sat around my house for months. Wish I wouldn't have wasted so much time before reading it. According to Joan,
To have that sense of one's intrinsic worth which constitutes self-respect is potentially to have everything; the ability to discriminate, to love and to remain indifferent. To lack it is to be locked within oneself, paradoxically incapable of either love or indifference.
She says lots of other brilliant things. I also admire her style from the time she was writing these essays.