A reader commented that she loved that I had such great self-esteem and wished that she had better self-esteem.
So, I would like to talk about my journey to the self-esteem I have, and hope that it helps those who don't have very good self-esteem.
When I was in middle school I had alright self-esteem, nothing special. I didn't really have fantastic self-esteem, in part because I wasn't really paying attention, but I also had some incredibly bitchy people in my grade who were not nice. It was here that Girl Scouts helped me stay out of the danger zone of zero self-esteem. I also think that it played a big part during high school as well.
Once I got to high school it got a little better because I wasn't stuck with those people in every class day after day and I could make more friends outside of my grade more easily. Band was a huge help here as well, one class for all four grades 9-12. There were still dark times in high school. For example, the fact that I had a date for exactly one high school dance. The rest I went with friends. Now as I look back, I don't care, but at the time it mattered a lot. There was also this time on Valentine's Day that I had cut a bouquet of flowers into a bunch of single flowers and gave them out to my friends and basically anyone who asked, I thought everyone should get something on Valentine's Day. A girl a year or two older than me whom I had never met started a rumor that I was a lesbian because I was handing out these flowers. So much for logic right? Even at the time I thought it was ridiculous, but I wondered why someone who didn't even know me would start a rumor about me. I'm still baffled, but I must have started to get my thick skin even at 15 because I didn't care what she said, I'd never met her and I just think she was jealous of my awesome flowers. The point is, I don't even remember her name. Jessica maybe?
Part of my self-esteem issues in high school was that I did not dress well. I dressed for comfort and didn't really take care of myself 100% of the time. I took better care of myself on the weekends because there were boys. (Hockey tournaments and all that.) I gained weight steadily through out high school and continually dressed in sweats. I tried to lose weight a few times, but nothing ever stuck. I didn't really try either - I loved sleeping more. It never clicked for me.
Then - miracle of miracles! Something sunk in!
The summer before my freshman year in college, I got a great job working for a kick ass boss. I was a part time student worker so I could leave early and work out for an hour, every day, Monday-Friday before riding home from work with my Dad. I lost 50 lbs. I loved how I looked and I felt so healthy and happy. My self-esteem (and probably my ego) got a huge boost. Also that summer I started dressing better. For my body type, my job and because I had a good paying job I had disposable income that allowed me to buy the clothes I wanted and really liked with out having to beg my parents for money, which was AWESOME. I started realizing little things about myself. I saw a picture that my Grandma had taken of me and I loved how natural and happy I looked. I thought to myself, wow, I could look like that all the time. And that's what I strove for. My two years at Ferris were amazing in that I realized that you dress how you feel. In high school I dressed in sweats a lot and was fairly diminutive in my demeanor and personality outside of my house. At Ferris I stopped letting myself wear sweats. I'd wear jeans or other nice pants instead and I put myself out there. I couldn't really dress business casual all the time because I had to walk all over campus for class and heels + walking a lot = bad news bears.
Then I transferred to Central. And I started wearing sweats again, mostly because of my major and a lot of my classes required easily removable outwear so that we could get to shorts easily for class. It was this and many other factors that led me down a road that I hope I never have to traverse ever again. It was dark and scary and utterly frustrating. I allowed myself to be put down by fellow classmates and professors alike. My self-esteem tanked in a lot of ways. It didn't help that I had stopped eating healthy, going for ease of creation instead. I gained even more weight back (I stopped going to the gym after I met Adam so that I could spend time with him, LAME, I know, bad decision alert). Then, last November (2009) I took my life back into my own hands. I was tired of being miserable and tired and overworked. I changed my major. Best decision EVER. It seems so insignificant, who doesn't change their major at least once in college right? I hadn't. I added them, getting a business degree at Ferris, but never changing my major. I was going to go to CMU for Athletic Training, damn it, so I did.
It was a first of big changes in my life that would happen in a semi-succession. I decided Athletic Training was not for me. I discovered that I could still graduate on time by majoring in Theatre, which was the BEST DISCOVERY EVER, because I had always loved theatre and what could be more awesome than studying something you love, right? I signed my new major and resigned from ATEP. (I WAS FREE!!!!!) I got married to (*SAP ALERT*) the most wonderful man. And I started taking care of myself again. Eating healthier and working out again. There was a snag here, I had been working out for three months and I had gained 20 lbs (I was pissed). I went for my annual physical and the doctor recommended Weight Watchers. I joined that and since then nothing has been the same. This wonderful exciting period in my life just keeps getting better and better. I started P90X and I am in week four (I don't like the Yoga X disc but I have to do it twice this week, suck!) and I already notice changes in my body and how I look. I feel better and I have more energy. I also started going to bed earlier and getting up roughly the same time every day and it's amazing how much of a difference that makes.
I can tell you completely vain things that remind me every day how awesome I am which then help me turn inside of myself and find things on the inside that make me love me. When I look in the mirror and I think I look great, I tell myself that. If I don't think I look very good, I smile at myself and I think, "You have a beautiful smile." Or I look myself in the eyes and say, "Your eyes are gorgeous." On the inside, I just think about all the things I love about myself. Intelligence, wit, confidence, love, compassion, work ethic, singing etc. If I'm having a particularly negative day, I work out how I can improve the things that I don't like about myself. And I always, always remember that I am a work in progress.
The point through all of this, that I want you to walk away with, is that there are always changes that you can make to your life and boost your self-esteem. Everyone's journey to good self-esteem is different and I have shared mine. I hope that it helps you find yours, because no one should feel bad about themselves. I've told you what works for me, find what works for you. If you don't know where to start, try the things I did. Take care of yourself, eat healthy (it's amazing how depressed Burger King can make you) and go to bed at a regular time if possible and try to get at least 8 hours of sleep.
The number one thing to remember is that if someone is being down on you, SCREW THEM. You are awesome, and you have to remember that. If someone doesn't like you for who you are, then you don't need them and they only need you to try and feel better about themselves.
I leave you with this, a poem that is on a poster I found at a rummage sale. It wouldn't stay on my wall, so it hung out next to my bed and I often fell asleep reading it in High School and early College years. Maybe this played a part in my awesome self-esteem, I don't know, but I encourage you to read it as often as you need it.
My Declaration of Self-Esteem
I am me.
In all the world, there is no one else exactly like me. There are persons who
have some parts like me, but no one adds up exactly like me. Therefore,
everything that comes out of me is authentically mine because I alone chose it.
I own everything about me: my body, including everything it does; my mind,
including all its thoughts and ideas; my eyes, including the images of all they
behold; my feelings, whatever they may be: anger, joy, frustration, love,
disappointment, excitement; my mouth, and all the words that come out of it:
polite, sweet, or rough, correct or incorrect; my voice, loud or soft; and all my
actions, whether they be to others or to myself.
I own my fantasies, my dreams, my hopes, my fears.
I own all my triumphs and successes, all my failures and mistakes.
Because I own all of me, I can become intimately acquainted with me. By doing
so, I can love me and be friendly with me in all my parts. I can then make it
possible for all of me to work in my best interests.
I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me, and other aspects that I
do not know. But as long as I am friendly and loving to myself, I can
courageously and hopefully look for the solutions to the puzzles and for ways to
find out more about me.
However I look and sound, whatever I say and do, and whatever I think and feel
at a given moment in time is me. This is authentic and represents where I am at
that moment in time.
When I review later how I looked and sounded, and what I said and did, and how
I thought and felt, some parts may turn out to be unfitting. I can discard that
which is unfitting, and keep that which proved fitting, and invent something new
for that which I discarded.
I can see, hear, feel, think, say, and do. I have the tools to survive, to be close to
others, to be productive, and to make sense and order out of the world of people
and things outside of me.
I own me, and, therefore, I can engineer me.
I AM ME AND I AM OKAY.
Be you, that's all anyone can ask of you. <3