We mistakenly assume that there’s no way a person can or should possibly worry about self-esteem if they’re hungry.
Liberally interpreted, Maslow’s pyramid means that if you’re hungry, you cannot admire the Mona Lisa. It means a disastrous mental model of how to get somewhere in life, a model of fighting and climbing your way to the top, just to get some self actualization, knowledge and discovery.
See the problem? Only the few successful and/or chosen ones get authenticity, spontaneity or creativity.
In reality, human needs look far more like a game of twister, where all the needs are on the same level, a primary, plane and flat level, with the mortal human twisted and tied on top of it, trying desperately to satisfy each one of its needs, and in the proper order.
Self actualization, creativity, morality, lack of prejudice and so on, all of these are not somewhere at the top, waiting on us to climb to them with our bellies full, warm, surrounded by an army of friends, with private pensions and full of social approval. Nope, they are always with us, always asking the same amount of attention like sex, thirst or the need to breathe.