My whole life, I’ve struggled with low self-esteem and self-worth. I always felt kind of apart from my peers, like there was something wrong with me because I didn’t want to do all the things they did. I had no interest in pink things or in boys, and I didn’t really like the music they liked.
This feeling of thinking there was something inherently wrong with me continued on until very recently. In secondary school I opted to have a long skirt and didn’t roll up the waistband like my peers. I didn’t see the point. I never went to any underage discos, never drank, never really went clubbing.
In college I felt as if I was going to suddenly be surrounded by people who had similar interests to me. I mean – we all opted for the same course, so surely that meant I’d fit in. It didn’t. I struggled a lot. I drank a lot. I made poor choices. I went out with men I shouldn’t have simply because they paid me attention.
I let my insecurities take over.
I don’t know when it changed. I think, it started to change about one year ago. It’s an ongoing process now. There are mornings I wake up and suffer from impostor syndrome. I go into my workplace and think “I have no reason to be here, I have no idea what I’m doing, I have no right to pretend I’m successful”. Other mornings I wake up and think “Jaysis, I should really do something about that hair” or maybe that I should lose weight.
The thing I struggle with most isn’t body image or career progression or my talents. It’s my personality. Sometimes I think that I’m too loud, too blunt, too opinionated. I think that maybe I should tone it down, keep my opinions to myself. Maybe I should be a more introverted version of myself. This is what I’ve struggled with. This is what I still struggle with.
I struggle with the fact that I live with anxiety and depression daily. Some days are better than others, some days are worse than others. Some days my anxiety exacerbates all my self doubts and lowers my self-esteem and I doubt everything. On those days, I’m quiet. I don’t open my mouth because I feel like I shouldn’t. I feel like a sham, and like I should just stop being me. That I should stop being blunt and just keep to myself.
So I do that.
I go into work, sit at my desk and don’t bother. I’m too afraid that people won’t like me so I hide away. Or, I just stay at home. Some days I feel grateful that people want to spend time with me, not because I value them – which I definitely do, don’t get me wrong – but because I’m so brash, why should they? On these days I forget that you can choose who you hang out with. We’re adults, we make these choices for ourselves.
I guess what I’m trying to do now by writing about this is acknowledging that I’m still working on it. I’m still working on my self worth, my self-esteem, my confidence. I’m still working on accepting myself, on believing in myself and in spending time getting to know myself. Don’t get me wrong – I’m loud. I say what I think, and sometimes I probably shouldn’t. I don’t really have much of a filter during the conversations I have with people I know on a personal level. Today, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
Yesterday, I did.
People often say that you have to love yourself first, and that loving yourself is more important than anything else. There is some truth to that, but what I’ve found over the course of my adult life is that that’s a lot easier said than done. No matter how confident you appear, no matter how loud and involved you are, there will be days when you wonder, “am I worth it?”.
Don’t beat yourself up on those days.
You are human. (I presume?)
Having self-worth, appreciating yourself and loving yourself is not as easy as some people would have you believe. There will be times when you question yourself, question everything about yourself, and question the people around you. You might wonder if you are worthy of their love and their time. You are.
You are worthy. You are worthy of every success, every achievement, every nice thing that happens to you. Shit happens, too. People are inherently flawed and you can’t control their actions. You’re flawed, too. Are you always late? Do you have no concept of time? Are you bad at handling money? These are all flaws, but they do not define you.
Working on yourself is a long, hard process. Working to love and appreciate yourself is a long, hard and probably never-ending process. I can pretend that I’m over the worst of it if I want. I can act as if I have left my low self-esteem behind. I haven’t. I probably never will, but I have left its power behind. It is no longer what fuels my decision-making.
I’m working on this every single day.