Through the majority of my adolescent years, my self-esteem and confidence were about the size and strength of a toothpick. Self-esteem and confidence regard how we feel about ourselves, how we see ourselves, and ultimately what we think about ourselves. Do we have positive, kind thoughts about ourselves, with a strong belief in who we are? How do we generally feel about ourselves? If this isn’t fostered within us from a young age, or we aren’t taught how to build ourselves up, we go seeking it elsewhere. So when I say my self-esteem was terribly low, I mean that I didn’t have a strong foundation for it and thus sought other ways in which I believed would raise my confidence. What I failed to see during this time, was how my self-confidence and esteem could come from within and were totally independent of anyone else.
I based my self-esteem and confidence strongly on the words and opinions of others. If a person thought good about me, that must mean I was good. Conversely, if they felt dislike towards me, then I must be unlikable. If you, like me, have ever hung how you felt about yourself on the word of another, then you know how easily it can turn south when that word is unkind. This created a fragile, unstable self-esteem which I associate to be like a toothpick. What I failed to understand was that my self-esteem, how I felt about myself, could come from me. I didn’t see at the time that I could build myself up by focusing on, and highlighting, the qualities and attributes within myself that made me a good person. Instead of recognizing my own authenticity and finding confidence in that, I found myself taking on the traits of others and trying to mimic them in appearance. If they were so confident and assured of themselves, then maybe I could have that same confidence and assurance if I looked and dressed as they did. I told myself at one point, “be just as skinny as them”. And so, I became what was dangerously thin given my height. This didn’t miraculously give me a new found confidence in myself or raise my self-esteem. No, because my confidence and self-esteem still depended on others I was off to find that next potential confidence booster.Separating myself from this mindset and learning how to build my self-esteem and confidence based on entirely different principles was a lengthy process. But in spite of this, it was one of the greatest acts of kindness I could have shown myself. Once my self-esteem and confidence came from within and I had come to love and embrace myself, no one could take that away. It doesn’t hinge on the word of another or depend on anyone other than myself. You can do this too, you can have your own confidence and self-esteem independent of anyone else. Highlight and focus on the wonderful qualities and talents within you that are worth believing in and feeling good about. Your empathy, kindness, grit, etc.- use these to build yourself up. Concentrate on the internal qualities rather than external, because looks will fade with time. Not sure where or how to start? How about positive, uplifting affirmations? These affirmations are personally my go-to, as I find them to be so simple yet so impactful. There are any number you can find on the internet with the click of a button. There are also many guided meditations you could use, or you may find meaning in various books or TED talks. Check out the link below for a great article to scroll through that also gives some book suggestions and positive affirmations to use. I have also included a link to YouTube for a wonderful and very powerful TED talk about self-esteem given by Niko Everett. Invest in yourself, and build that confidence and self-esteem so high it rivals the tallest mountains and skyscrapers on the planet.