Over the years, my understanding of self-esteem had changed again and again. From the belief in confidence, just what is self-esteem? More important, how had my understanding changed the way I see and live my life?
Living with Low Self-Esteem.
I was not a popular kid in school. Not that I get bullied, but it’s more like the few friends and I have been invisible.
It annoys me to see some of my classmates trying to befriend the popular kids. I once confided to a friend that I couldn’t care less who they were.
The truth was that I wanted to be one of the popular kids in school. It’s just that for you to be famous, you have to have something or do something that makes you famous, right?
I had none.
And it sucks.
God knows how many times I have tried to change my image.
Each time I tried, I stop. I am not sure if it’s a good thing. I am not a cool person, so if I acted cool, I’d look like a fool.
In more ways than one, I lacked belief in myself. I looked at the other kids and wish I could be like them. I’d like to be the best-looking person in school, the best at this and that and more.
In other words, I wanted to be someone else other than me.
Sometimes, my friends and I would be like hanging out. And then one would think of a crazy thing to do.
Don’t get me wrong. We were pretty nice kids. So we didn’t get into stuff that is dangerous, much less against the law.
As much as I would like to try, I end up hesitating most of the time. I don’t know why, but maybe it’s because I didn’t like doing something new.
If there is one thing I hated, it’s feeling stupid not knowing how to do something. And oh, I hate feeling useless too.
Sometimes I get into arguments with my friends. When I think about those days, I realize how silly we were, especially me.
During heated moments, friends would say I have too much pride. And selfish too, for refusing ever to admit to anything.
So yeah, I did blame others for anything that goes wrong.
I don’t know exactly when it happened, but the time came when I found myself spending more time with the popular kids.
It came to the point that my childhood friends accused me of dumping them. They told me I had changed so much that it’s like I became a new person.
They were right.
Everything my new friends did was cool and fun. But if it were my childhood friends, I have no patience.
Was I peer-pressured into changing to a new person? No, I think it’s more like I copied. I unknowingly allowed my new friends to influence me.
You see, I wanted to be somebody.
I think everyone goes through an identity crisis.
Soon after college, I thought I had life figured out. Gosh, I couldn’t be more wrong.
Everything changed when I began to understand who I am. Once I did, I started to develop trust and belief in myself. This higher level of understanding also allowed me to manage my emotions better.
In other words, I began to have higher self-esteem. Self-esteem is also called self-worth or self-regard. It is how we feel and view ourselves—physically, mentally and emotionally.
People with low self-esteem:
- Avoid trying new things
- Blame others for own mistakes or shortcomings
- Have trouble handling frustrations
- Feel unloved and unwanted
- Pretend to feel indifferent
- Hesitate or refuse to act even if capable
- Get influenced rather easily
Looking at the above list, it’s like I am describing myself from childhood to teenager, isn’t it?
The point is, life doesn’t have to be harder than it already is. But then again, is life difficult or it is just a perception?
As my self-esteem improved, so did the way I see the world. I became a much more confident person who is productive.
It was not easy, though. I had to make a conscious effort of accepting who I am.
First, I had, to be honest with myself. No one knows me better than myself. Only I know exactly how I feel and what I was thinking of.
Being honest with myself made me stop blaming others and taking responsibility. It also enabled me to find my life purpose.
Second, in knowing my life purpose, I was able to repurpose myself. It means that I discovered my strengths and worked on becoming better. Also, I found out my weaknesses and learned to cope and adapt.
Third, as I grow myself, I started taking on new things with a level of confidence I never knew I had. Fear may have been a hindrance in the past, but I now use fear to throw caution to the wind. It doesn’t stop me like it used to.
Finally, I began to develop a deeper understanding of people and situations. This led me to manage my emotions better. I don’t get frustrated like before. The best part is that I can share my experience and wisdom with other people.
It took a while for me to build the self-esteem. It would be foolish for me to say I am done. There is so much to learn about myself and the world around me.
While emotion is something that is unavoidable, it is controllable. I managed to do that when I was building my self-esteem.
This is important as unmanaged emotion results in bad decisions. It can be crippling and paralyzing. But when managed, it can be the catalyst that results in success.
Sometimes we think that self-confidence is self-esteem. But no, self-esteem is much more than confidence alone.
Self-esteem is how we value ourselves. A long time ago, I wrongfully declared my actual value by pretending to be someone else. So it is important that we stay genuine and honest.
We have to be able to trust ourselves because that is the foundation of building our self-esteem.