As a teenager in college, all I wanted was to fit in. I do not think it was just a ‘Wanna-be’ thing. I think it was just being able to have mutual friends that I had things in common with. The worst embarrassment I had was when a group of girls pretended to be my friend. They only did this to plan with the coolest guy in college at the time to ask me out, date me for a period, then dump me on my birthday. Imagine that? So cruel! All this to them was a joke. They derived so much joy in how sad I felt. I could not comprehend why people I cared about who do that to me.

I could not understand how they could pretend to have liked me. I could not get how we were close for several months then dump me like I was just a piece of rubbish paper they made an error on. It was painful. They made sure that everyone in college knew of it. I found it hard to go to the common lounge at the time because I felt so embarrassed everyone was talking about me. I did not know who to trust anymore, I became scared to make friends. It felt lonely and sad. I could not talk to my parents or anyone about it. 

“I could not comprehend why people I cared about who do that to me”.

I have noticed that it is the people in our lives that can affect how we feel about ourselves. When people focus on positive things about us, it makes us feel good and when it’s negative; it makes us feels bad.  When people are patient with us, when we make mistakes, we learn to accept ourselves. Also, when we get along with our friends or we fit in into certain desired groups, we feel liked. What is that voice in our head that keeps weighing us down or reminding us of the harsh words people have said or bad experiences we have had? If we can learn to think better of ourselves and feed ourselves with the right information of who we are, we can silent that voice in our head. We can learn how to develop better self-esteem. 

“when people are patient with us, when we make mistakes, we learn to accept ourselves”.

Coming to the story above, I thought to myself, how do I explain to grown-ups at home or at school I had a boyfriend to start with? I could tell no one that could do anything about it as I felt too scared and embarrassed. I just wanted to leave the college. I thought my life was over. I remembered after I left that college; I became timid and afraid to mingle. I had lost my self-esteem. Sometimes, I felt suicidal because I had experienced being bullied by my peers. I had no defence, and it was one-sided. They humiliated me in public, and it affected me so much, so I became anorexic. 

“Self-esteem is a term used to describe a person’s overall sense of self-worth or personal value”.

The word “Self-esteem” is something you want to remember to build every single day so you do not live a sad life and miss out of a fun life. I came across a definition that says, “Self-esteem is a term used to describe a person’s overall sense of self-worth or personal value.” Another definition says, “Self-esteem is the opinion we have of ourselves”. Who you think you are or what you think of yourself? Do you sometimes feel you feel awkward when you are being praised and you are not sure what your response should be? Or you find it difficult to join in on activities? Or you find it difficult to take part in class? Or you do things you don’t want to be doing to make your friends happy?  You get scared to lose a friend or anger someone if you have to tell the truth? If you answer yes to all these questions, then you are experiencing low self-esteem. You need to work on it before it eats up what you have left of your self-worth.

“Saving yourself first is not selfish”.

I understand that the more I work on my self-esteem, the more I feel better about myself. My learning and development have improved, and I am more productive because my mindset has changed. I say no when I do not want to do what my friends are doing without feeling like I will lose their friendship., I have become comfortable with not making myself unhappy so I can make someone else happy. At first, I thought people would think I was selfish. However, overtime I learnt that choosing to love myself first and doing what makes me happy first was a priority. Saving yourself first is not selfish. Just like in the aeroplane, when they advise the adults with little children to wear their masks first before wearing their children’s own in case of an emergency. This is because an adult cannot not save the children except the adult has to be safe first. I never understood this until I cared more for myself. It is a suicide mission if I care for everybody else first before myself. 

I will tell you another story that has affected a sizeable chunk of how I see myself. Sometimes, it affects how I see myself. To maintain confidence, I must affirm to myself that I am “beautiful and enough” through daily confessions. I do it now for a lot of other things or anything that makes me taps on my esteem. When I was younger prior to college days, I had the belief that I was ugly. It was so instilled in me so much that my mirror reflected the same. Whenever I look at the mirror, I see an ugly dark skin girl and I hated myself and felt everybody hated her too. What had gone wrong is that I had grown to accept a negative of opinion my mom had of me? This was her opinion of me…

My mum is quite a beautiful, light-skinned hourglass shaped woman. As a child, she told me often I was ugly that I do not look like her.  In fact, as I was approaching puberty, she would say I was a figure, one with no shape and look nothing like her. She also abused my dark complexion, and I just hated every bit of me. I thought it was just the light skin girls that were beautiful. 

“I thought it was just the light skin girls that were beautiful”.

My mom also called me a dullard a lot after had repeated a year in high school and resulted in being the same year group with my younger brother. I love my mum so much and I understand that she did not realise how much damage she was doing. However, this had affected me so much that I sought for validation and acceptance with the wrong people. I almost ruined my life until I found hope in my faith and was fortunate to meet one or two people that has been mentoring me. 

“People’s opinions of us are what they think of us, but that is not who we are or what makes us who we are”.

Anyone can put you to in a place of low self-esteem only if you allow it. For me, it started with my mom, then my close friends and boyfriend. It could be anyone, a friend, a sister, teacher and so on. We cannot control what other people think, but we can control what we think and how we respond to other people’s opinion of us. People’s opinions of us are what they think of us, but that is not who we are or what makes us who we are. We can accept or reject what someone thinks or says of us depending on if it is a positive or negative thing. Below are tips that has helped me and can help you build your self-esteem straightaway.

“Affirmations help you practice who you want to be”.

Five tips to help you build your self-esteem

  • Use positive affirmations: Affirmations help you practice who you want to be. After some time, practising, your brain will believe and then you will know it and live in that knowledge. This has worked like magic overtime for me. 
  • Identify what you are good at (your strength): Build on what you are good at. it helps you to feel a sense of competency and achievement from demonstrating it. It will help you believe more in yourself and it will build your self-esteem. For me, writing is a strength I keep building on because it gives me a voice to be who I want to be. I see myself becoming a better version of me. 
  • Learn how to accept compliments: I still awkward sometimes when people say I am beautiful or praise me sometimes, but I am learning to accept and embrace it. If I see myself as a beautiful one can tell me otherwise, so why not accept it? 

“Always talk yourself up, not down”.

  • Do not criticize yourself: To develop healthier emotional habits, you can’t bring yourself down. Even when you make a mistake, see it as an experience or a learning curve. You will be better next time. Always talk yourself up, not down. That it will be harder for people’s negative opinion of you to kick you in. 

“Nobody can tell you your worth except you”.

  • Always remind yourself of your actual worth. Nobody can tell you your worth except you. You might never know your worth until you have built your self-esteem and confident enough to accept who you are and love yourself. 

“I am more aware of my intelligence and I can set goals and attain them. You can get to this point too”.

When you have high self-esteem, it oozes confidence and people find it difficult to ill treat confident people because they believe they cannot get away with it. I am not where I want to be yet but since I started working on my self-esteem; I have been happier, and I have also made better decisions. I am more aware of my intelligence and I can set goals and attain them. You can get to this point too. I have better and more reliable friends that we can share everything without feeling awkward or intimidated by one another. It is not walks in the park, but I know it’s achievable because I am seeing the results of building my self-esteem paying off.

“I am simply happy being me”.

Do you wonder if you have a low self-esteem, that you are thinking about it at it is a sign? Please seek help and do not let it fester too deep. You can check out articles online. You can also look for a trusted adult you know who is confident and open-up to them, they might just give you some particularly useful tips that will help. You can also read books that can help you. I once read this book called “How to Succeed at Being Yourself: Finding the Confidence to Fulfil Your Destiny” by Joy Meyers. It helped me an impressive deal, even with my fashion sense. 

I mean who says I cannot combine green with yellow or purple on red. I am simply happy being me.

“When you have high self-esteem, it oozes confidence”. Do you! You are enough!