Shelley, I have to disagree with your comment "And in many ways, wanting respect, trying to earn respect, is just as harmful for one’s soul, as going for popularity and links."
If you are true to yourself; true to the basics of human nature, being respectful of yourself and of others, then trying to be so should not ever be harmful. Only when you deviate from this would it be harmful.
Stephen Covey (he of the 7 Habits of Successful People) talks of "true north" being guided by the compass, by the basics of goodness in human nature.
The Arbinger Institute in their book "Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting out of the Box", states "When I betray myself, I begin to see the world in a way that justifies my self-betrayal."
There are many others who discuss this same topic. It is not easy to stay true. Life presents us with many challenges. But in those challenges, it is our choice to (1) use the challenge to reinforce our trueness, or (2) to slip into self-betrayal. It is not as easy as it sounds but it can be done. What helps is the reinforcing we can provide each other!
I am glad that you wrote: "I figured out today that what I wanted was respect."
Let me close with a quote from Ghandi: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
I keep coming across this and most recently found this in Tom Peter's slides he used for his Stockholm presentation on 10/18/04. http://tompeters.com/entries.php?note=006786.php
Charge on Shelley!