How are you doing? Today I decided to share a bit of my story and talk about a delicate subject: low self-esteem. I have been dealing with low self-esteem and all that comes with it for about 11 years now and it is a daily struggle, though I am much better now then I was a few years ago.
Growing up, I was such an ugly-duckling: I was super, super skinny, had severe acne, wore glasses and the braces came later on. So you can imagine, people were always picking on me. My legs were incredibly thin, everybody joked about them so that was the part of my body I hated the most. Even today I don’t like them – I rarely put on a dress because of the little voices in my head telling me “you have such ugly, skinny legs. Why do you want to put on a dress? It will look hideous on you!”. And I know it is all in my head but they still win most days…
I hated my body, hated how I looked, but there was only one thing I could change at that time: my weight. So I started eating a lot more, more than I actually needed, and gained about 15 kilograms (33 pounds) in maybe four months: I went from 32 kilograms (70 pounds) to close to 50 (110). I wish I had known back then that that was not the proper way to gain weight… I now have stretch marks to remind me of that silly mistake!
Though I gained weight, everything else was wrong (at least in my head it was…). People still called me names and said horrible things to me. It got to a point where I considered if it was even worth getting up everyday. But fortunately I worked around it! I had a great group of friends at the time that helped me by taking my mind off of it all (they were all really pretty and flawless, though, which was not very helpful), I started writing on a diary (God forbid I actually told anyone how I was really feeling) and eventually things got better.
I still heard mean things, I still repeated them over and over to myself, but it got better. Even now I still have days when I just feel worthless. Even now I don’t really believe when people compliment the way I look. Even now, if I hear one bad thing about me, it will wash away all the good ones I heard before that.
But there are good days now! There are days when I look in the mirror and actually like what I see and I did not have days like that before. And I know there are people out there that have it much worse than I did but I believe everyone can get through this!
Here are some tips on how you can improve your self-esteem:
1. Stop comparing yourself to others. Nothing hurts our self-esteem like unfair comparisons… Like “my friend has 3000 friends on Facebook and I only have 100, I really do suck”. You don’t! You only need friends that make you feel good and I don’t believe you can have 3000 of those… Focus on yourself instead.
2. Surround yourself with people that are good for you.
3. Push the negativity away. Let’s face it: people are mean. You hear horrible things but sometimes we are our own worst enemy and some of the toughest things we hear come from within – those little damn voices in our heads… So drive them away every time they show up, focus on something you really like about yourself and repeat that instead!
4. Make a list! Well, two… Get a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle of it. On the right-hand side, write “Strengths” and on the left-hand side, write “Weaknesses.” List 10 of each. It will be easier for you to write the Weaknesses but force yourself to write the Strengths as well.
5. Set realistic expectations. Nothing kills self-esteem like unrealistic expectations. Like “I have to lose 15 kilos (33 pounds) until the end of the month” – that is not going to happen. Focus on something you can actually achieve, set smaller milestones so you can celebrate your victories more often.
6. Congratulate yourself every time you perform well. If you bring yourself down when you do not achieve something, why shouldn’t you congratulate yourself when you do?
7. Do not believe everything you hear. As I said before, people are mean. When they see someone who is happier and has achieved more than they have, they will try to bring them down. So never believe everything you hear, most of it is made up by people who are trying to make themselves feel better by making you feel worthless.
8. Say goodbye to perfectionism. It can paralyse you from taking action because you become so afraid of not living up to some standard. And so you procrastinate and do not get the results you want, which will make your self-esteem go down the rabbit hole. Or you take action but are never – or very rarely – satisfied with what you accomplished and your own performance.
Hope you find this post helpful! I am sorry for the rambling but I felt like sharing my story so that if someone is reading this and going through something similar, they know they are not alone.