Self love, confidence and self esteem have been things I have battled with for a majority of my life, something far too common most women seem to experience. However, knowing that I’m not alone in facing these issues is somewhat comforting.
If I had to measure my confidence and self worth in chart form you would see I’ve had quite the nose dives and peaks throughout my life.
Feeling insecure every now and then is a normal part of life, there’s nothing unusual about it. However, it’s when we start to value ourselves with how we look and feel about ourselves that it becomes a dangerous road.
When I began high school I noticed the attention I was getting from members of the opposite sex, mostly from the boys that were grades ahead of me or even older. I enjoyed the attention I was getting and started to place a little too much value on how I looked from the point on. Looking back I don’t think my reaction to the attention I was receiving was unusual for a teen girl, however if I had some guidance I probably wouldn’t have placed so much value on it. I wasn’t very close to my mother during these years, as she is very religious person, so being open with her about boys, my self confidence and sexuality weren’t topics I felt I could approach her without being lectured.
As the youngest, by the time I was in high school all my siblings had moved out and far away from home, so I was left with self guidance and advice from my peers- yikes. I began to hyper focus on my looks and would follow diet trends with friends, I read garbage magazines like Cosmopolitan and followed their misguided tips and tricks on sex, beauty and their definition of womanhood and femininity. While trying to attain perfection the magazines promised I would attain in “10 easy steps” I simultaneously sought out validation from others… not exactly the right path for a young girl.
Unfortunately there a predator had been waiting for someone like me, and was ready to catch me at my most vulnerable point. He was a 23 year old man that hung out around my high school, he befriended me and started giving me the validation I felt I needed. This soon landed me in his creepy ass basement where my first time was not consented. Shaken after the event, I collected my things and walked home through the rain, I was numb. Luckily no one was home to question why I was soaked, it was the last thing I needed. The reality of what happened sunk down, I broke down alone and had a long big cry, I’m talking fetal position kind of cry, this was definitely one of the worst moments in my entire life.
For the rest of the evening I was unresponsive, my emotional state must’ve been written all over my face as my mother was quick to picked up on it. She stormed into my room and out she came with picture I had of me and the 23 year old creep, she ripped it to shreds in front of me and instantly interrogated me. After what had happened to me earlier that day I broke down easily, I told her in the shakiest voice what had happened. There was no support, instead I was called a whore, without my virginity in tact I was garbage. Her reaction wasn’t very shocking but a part of me had hoped she would be the mother I needed her to be at that time. Next thing I knew I was being sent to Florida where my older sister would take care of me so I could start a new beginning. This obviously was the wrong approach as it catapulted me further into the wrong direction.
Once in the sunshine state I began to search for not only validation but for unconditional love as well. I was able to hide my emotional turmoil with good grades, early acceptances to colleges and being an honour roll student. My GPA was stellar, my SATs were impressive and I had the respect of my teachers, but emotionally and socially I was a fucking train wreck. I confided in nobody, I trusted no one and I had little to no self esteem or self worth.
A few months after the big move I met a real fucking charmer. The friends I had made warned me to stay away, they insisted that he wasn’t a nice guy. Stupidly, I ignored them, I explained how he might’ve been an asshole to everyone else but he was nice to me, clearly this made me special. I was so delusional and in love with the idea of love that when I later realized he was actually a dirt bag it came as a total shock.
It started with little remarks about my appearance, I remember one of the first things he said to me was that my arms looked chubby, he pinched the back of arm as we walked down the hallway and told me I probably shouldn’t be wearing short sleeves. Already having low self esteem his comment made me feel even more self conscious, if someone that loves me thinks like that how do others think of me? His criticisms evolved to remarks about my personality, my intelligence, my culture, my family–every aspect of my life he had something negative to say about it. I can’t state that the relationship was negative as a whole because there were times that things were good, great even, and because of those amazing moments I hung onto our relationship for nearly 7 years.
I transitioned from being a teenager to an adult with a very negative mental state, I felt worthless and ugly. He continuously reminded me how I would never find someone as “good” as him, someone who would love me as much as he did, I was lucky to have him. I suffered in silence as I chose not revealed too much when I confided in someone about the way he treated me. I don’t remember how I snapped out of it, but I finally came to the realization that I didn’t want to feel like garbage anymore. I moved across the country and started a new chapter, a positive one this time.
I was on the road to self love and along that road I met someone wonderful. He encouraged me to love myself and to keep growing as an individual, I felt like I was becoming a person again. It was after the birth of our son that my self confidence took another nose dive, postpartum hit me like a ton of bricks killing every shred of confidence I had. Fortunately this time around I have a supportive partner who is there to care for me at my lowest points and celebrates every bit of progress I make.
But if I have such low self confidence the why am so I active on Snapchat and Instagram? That’s easy, for years I’ve been using social media platforms to feel validated through the attention I receive. There are still times I seek validation, it’s a mindset that’s extremely hard to change but I know I have improved. There were times that if a photo I took of myself didn’t receive the amount of attention I was looking for I would delete it and would start to feel really bad about myself, that’s no longer an issue I face.
I’d like to end this blog by saying all my issues have been resolved but learning to love yourself is an uphill battle, especially when you’ve spent years criticizing yourself and enduring abuse. Nevertheless, I’m seeing small improvements and little changes happening within me. This past week I stopped straightening my hair and started embracing my curls. I also bought a pair of jeans for the first time in years and am slowly learning to love my body. I still have many other insecurities and emotional scars to overcome but I’m willing to put the work in.
Self respect, self worth and self love all start with self. Stop looking outside yourself for your value. – Rob Liano
Your friend and self love advocate,