Self-esteem is a term used in psychology to reflect a person’s overall emotional evaluation of his or her own worth. It is a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self. My self-esteem SUCKS. There, that could be the ending of this note, but it’s just the beginning. Self-esteem has such a wide spectrum of outcomes, it’s hard to even know where it starts and where it ends.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been picked on. Since I was in kindergarten, into elementary school, high school, college, and even into adult life. How insane that I even have to say that I’ve been picked on as an adult. I’m 38 years old, and even now, I’m berated, mocked, made fun of, and made to feel like less of a person. Just last night my 8 year old told me that the kids in his class were telling him how his mom is fat and laughing about it. I just stood there in stunned silence not really sure how to process what I just heard. Is this happening AGAIN?
Now, while I realize that some of that falls on me, and I need to not let things get to me as much and I need to have more control over my circumstances to a point, it doesn’t change the way people act and the words they say. People’s words and actions, no matter how old they are, can cut like a knife. A sharp knife. Where you may not feel the initial pain and cut, but then you realize how deep the cut is, and how much pain it sends ripping through your body. This is what it’s like to be picked on relentlessly, with no regard to feelings or outcomes.
I’ve really been struggling with this whole concept of self-esteem and being self-conscious lately. I’ve become highly aware of it. I’ve become so cognisant of it, that I feel like I’m in a tailspin about it all. There haven’t really been “defining moments” that have brought me to this juncture, I’ve just arrived, fully packed with lots of baggage to bring on this trip. I’ve tried so many times in life to try to dig my way out, only to be pushed back down, with more dirt shoveled on top of me. Buried alive, screaming to get out of there, and I can’t.
So many things I’m unhappy about myself, and so many things in my life that I’m not proud of. The past is the past and I can’t change it. No matter how much I dwell on it and think about it and kick myself for the things I’ve done, I can’t change it. No amount of self-loathing and thinking about it is going to make it any better. But I can’t. I won’t. I constantly think about it and what I could have done differently.
My self-esteem is awful when it comes to physical image. My whole life I have struggled with my weight. Ever since I remember, I was picked on for it, starting in early elementary. My mom even had to go to the school to talk about it with my teacher because the taunting was so bad. Not too much changed over the years. My weight would flucuate, and when I’d lose weight, people would talk to me more, be around me more, I’d have more friends in my life, I’d get attention from guys. But then as soon as my weight fluctuated again, people would go, guys would be scarce, it seemed like everything in my life was conditional. Of course, this was the opposite that we were all taught as children on up. The golden rule. Karma. Anything up that road. Accept others unconditionally. You would still accept your best friend or child if they were overweight or had a learning disability. You will still accept your child if they were going through a rough patch in their life, going through a divorce, or told you they were gay. Why? Because we have an unconditional love for those in our life that are the closest to us. Or at least we should. But unfortunately, it’s not always that way.
So many people have given me this line. .. “You have a beautiful face, and a great personality, but. . .. ” Yes, my body changes that. “You can change your physical outer shell. .. ” And you know what? You’re right. For the most part I can. I have some medical conditions and medications that I’m taking that make it that much more difficult. And it’s discouraging. It’s frustrating, and I fail over and over because I feel defeated. And those of you that can eat and eat and never gain weight, I hate you. Not really, but I am jealous. I eat a rice cake and it goes right to my hips!
All this to say, think about the words that you say. Think about the person you make fun of or mock. Think about the person that is happy and confident on the outside. They may be struggling to survive on the inside, and the comments and suggestions that you make may be hurting them like you’ll never know. Everyone is different. Everyone has their on struggles. Not one struggle is better or worse than the other. In all reality, we are all broken vessels. We are not what we all seem. We all have things in our lives we can improve on. And we as people should look inwardly before we hurl the hurtful words. Before we judge a person for their outward appearance. They may be fighting a battle that you know nothing about.
I’m fighting a battle each and every day. Physically, Mentally, Emotionally, Spiritually. We all do in some sort. I’ve lost quite a bit of weight over time. Believe me, this is NOT easy. And I still have a ways to go. But reaching any milestone is an amazing thing to me. And with it comes the frustration that people are coming out of the woodwork to “congratulate me” and tell me that I look good. And while those compliments are great and make me feel good and accomplished, I feel like we should be telling people more often what they are doing that encourages you. How they have made you feel good that day. Something good about them, just to make their day. Being sincere about it of course. But I wonder how that is going to make you feel. I wonder the impact that’ll have on you. I wonder what that will do for their self-esteem as well as yours.
“When you’re different, sometimes you don’t see the millions of people who accept you for what you are. All you notice is the person who doesn’t.” -Jodi Picoult
“How would your life be different if…You stopped allowing other people to dilute or poison your day with their words or opinions? Let today be the day…You stand strong in the truth of your beauty and journey through your day without attachment to the validation of others”
― Steve Maraboli
“Be real. Embrace that you have weakness. Because everyone does. Embrace that your body is not perfect. Because nobody’s is. Embrace that you have things you can’t control. We all have a list of them.”
― Dan Pearce
“Never let the opinion of another affect your opinion of yourself.”
― Teresa Mummert
“Telling yourself you like the way you look is easy. Believing it is an entirely different kettle of whales.”
― Andrew Biss