The truth is sometimes low self-esteem follows people through life. It controls everything that they do and it holds them back from things they would have otherwise done. May is National Teen Self-Esteem Month, I learned, though I don't know what I'm supposed to do in that regard. I don't know what I'm supposed to think sometimes.
Self-esteem is how one views oneself. If one views oneself in a better light, then they are more likely to demand respect and to be assertive. I just saw a post on one girl's Facebook page that said something to this effect: "Im feelin horny. I'll give u a blow job 4 $5 but if ur hot, itll be free." Now really? It's one thing to be assertive and proud of your own sexuality and quite another to degrade yourself like this on a public platform. Does she think that she needs to be that desperate? That guys aren't going to respect her otherwise?
In my logical brain, I can see it. Neither my personality or my features are particularly ugly. In terms of my features, I'm somewhere in the middle. I'm not jaw-droppingly gorgeous but I'm not appallingly ugly, either. I have many features that many dish out a lot of cash for, including hair that naturally turns blonde in the summer, a tiny nose and Angelina-Jolie-like lips. My rational brain even tells me that my weight and my looks really don't matter very much, anyway, but they still aren't all that bad. In terms of my personality, I am intelligent, determined, sweet, polite, sensitive and perceptive; I can appreciate a good joke and I can focus and be serious. Perhaps I can be stubborn and a bit of a doormat sometimes, but everyone has flaws. In terms of my worth, I'm probably an eight or a nine and I think that I'm the type of good, kind soul that's hard to find for most people. Yet why do I feel so incompetent? Why do I feel like no one wants to be around me? The less rational part of my brain tells me that I am ugly, fat, stupid and socially inept. My anxiety disorder, while much better than it was a few months ago, make me paranoid about every aspect of my life and exacerbate this. I worry constantly that my grades aren't good enough and that people see me as a very desperate and weak person that they can take advantage of. While my self-esteem is improving, I am still not perfect.
I don't think I'm alone in that. There are many, many good people in my life who can be insecure socially and even about themselves. I don't really understand that. Yet again, when I confide to my mother about my own insecurities, she doesn't understand them, either. She has often stated concern over my obsession with my weight and wonders if I will develop an eating disorder (I do believe the time has passed for that risk, considering I'm feeling much happier and in control than I have at certain times in my life).
Low self-esteem seems to be an epidemic in this country. Some have blamed it on the media, although I think that's definitely simplifying things way too much. Yes, the media sets societal standards of beauty much of the time but that's only because people go along with it. Many of the girls like the one I mentioned above are products of bullying (as in my case), terrible divorce stories, and abuse/neglect. While many girls (and guys too) absorb it and take it silently, many lash out by being intentionally cruel to others that often reaches the point of bullying. The causes of this epidemic are multi-faceted, but does it really matter? Our environments play a role as well as the things we are told. It may be impossible to control what I believe, but I can work on changing things. I can make it better.
Right now, I'm in the process of modifying my appearance. I wear makeup now and I'm in the process of losing weight (I've lost nine pounds so far and my original goal was to lose ten). I think the solution is more complicated than that, though. In order to have high self-esteem, I think I really have to learn who to hang out with and what kinds of things I tell myself. I also have to learn how to stop things from getting to me. I've started by complimenting myself in the mirror more often and relishing a bit more in my accomplishments. I've also learned to just flip people off when they put me down and get on with my day (in my experience, they're only feeling jealous and threatened anyway. This is especially true when I happen to do things that reveal my intelligence). I've also forced myself to take risks and be more daring so that I can at least be proud of that. I think it also helps that I'm getting to a point where I'm honestly sick of dealing with all this, so sick that I'm willing to just forget about it.
I want to get to the point where I can kiss my image in the mirror. Where I feel proud of myself and feel like I really can do anything. I want to get to the point where people don't scare me and I can look them in the eye and feel like their equal. Most of all, I want everyone to feel the same way so that no one has to feel like this.
Recently, I just watched a video that drove this all to home and made me look at myself. Maybe it will be the kick in the ass I've needed.
Low self-esteem is a tragedy, and worst of all, it is completely preventable. No one should have to feel as if they are anything less than good. We should all live in the place where sky's the limit and we are all beautiful in our imperfections.