I don’t always have great self-esteem. Talking about self-esteem is usually a conversation about how we feel about our bodies even though it can refer to anything from education level to athletic ability. If you were to put my self-esteem on a timeline there would be natural peaks and valleys. One of my lowest points as an adult was about 5 or 6 years ago when my professional life was crumbling and my personal life was at an all-time low. Physically I felt like I was never enough. Coincidentally that feeling is a common theme throughout my life. It even flared up a couple of years ago after a significant weight loss. I guess that’s how low self-esteem chooses to manifest itself in my brain. On the flip side there are/were points in my life when I’ve felt great about myself. The times when all that excess noise in my brain is put on mute. Having spent time on both sides of the self-esteem fence I can tell you that both experiences have taught me a lot.
What I’ve learned from having confidence
I love clothing and it’s by far the number one thing I’ve always been the most confident in. I always feel my best when I’m wearing a new outfit. This would be the perfect time to tell you a story of a time when someone said something bitchy about my clothes and how well I reacted. However I can’t think of a single incident. I’m not saying it’s never happened I’m just saying that it mattered so little that I truly have no memory of it. Remember that old saying from when we were kids “I’m rubber and you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.” Well I can attest to the fact that insults really do bounce off my clothes. I also realize the irony that the industry synonymous with making people feel like shit is the same one that’s given me life. Apart from clothes, I must admit being in a happy relationship has also given me an extra confidence boost. Now that I’ve found someone who truly cares about me it’s like having a permanent safety net. I can be a little bit more adventurous and bold because deep down I know I have a solid foundation. I’ve already won the game so now I can just go out there and have fun. Being worry free is real confidence.
What I’ve learned from having low self-esteem
As I mentioned my low self-esteem bubbled up a couple of years ago when I lost 40 lbs. My self-doubt was constantly poked as people started to make offhand digs about my appearance. So while it was a success that most people would shout from the roof tops, losing weight left me feeling out-of-place and lacking. My journey of weight loss was definitely weird coming from a community that doesn’t always make health a top priority. Those digs about my appearance and how I reacted to them helped me learn a huge lesson though. Like I said earlier my clothes were always my bulletproof suit of armor regardless of the size on the tag. If I liked my body as much as my clothes then it wouldn’t bother me what people said. I realized I wasn’t bothered by what people said I was actually bothered by what I assumed they meant. For example when someone would say, “Wow you look so skinny” I would hear it as, “Wow you look so unfuckable.” Many of you reading this will instantly realize how ridiculous it sounds that I made that jump in my head. I am being totally honest though when I tell you I was sure that is what they meant. It was an unshakeable fact in my mind and no one could tell me differently. No one was making me feel ugly and inadequate I was doing it all by myself. I’m slightly amazed at how much my low self-esteem clouded my perception of reality. It was like I was wearing a pair of dirty eye glasses. If I just cleaned them up a bit I’d be able to see things much clearer. Looking back at it I have no doubt that the people who said I looked skinny were genuinely trying to give me a compliment and they probably had no idea of the turmoil they were fueling.
I am glad to report that now my confidence has leveled out. I wouldn’t say that I 100% love the way I look but I’ve settled into accepting the body I have. Everyone else can either take it or leave it. True confidence isn’t thinking that you’re perfect but genuinely not giving a fuck what the crowd thinks of you. Being worry free is the key to confidence. Obviously it’s hard to maintain that all the time but I found the trick is to notice when your self-doubt is creeping in and not letting it get the best of you.