You clicked through to this post today for a reason.
Maybe it’s because you want a little pep talk. Maybe it’s because you want to read my story of how I realized that I actually matter so you can find that for yourself. Maybe you’re just one of my friends trying to procrastinate on your homework (love you!). Or, maybe, you want an opportunity to tell me none of this applies to you. You still can’t see your own value so you think “Oh yeah? Don’t tell me what to do. You don’t know me” and go to work on your three page rebuttal as to why I’m wrong. Spoiler: I’m not 😉
This stubborn self-doubt can be, believe it or not, a form of entitlement which I recently read about in Mark Manson’s new book. According to Manson,
“…construing everything in life so as to make yourself out to be constantly victimized requires just as much selfishness as the opposite…Often, it’s this realization- that you and your problems are actually not privileged in their severity or pain- that is the first and most important step toward solving them.”
It’s important to realize that negative emotions or thoughts don’t exist solely for the purpose of making you miserable. They’re simply a part of the equation of life and they are trying to tell you something. It’s how your brain calls you to action. Manson says to take this as a sign that you shouldn’t always trust your emotions (or sometimes even thoughts), but should “make a habit of questioning them” instead.
I’ve been in that place in life where you feel like you’re alone with your inner demons, feeding yourself such destructive self-talk day by day by day.
I’ve been in that dark little pit, keeping everything to myself and going through life pretending it’s all okay.
For most of my life, especially in school, I’ve been the shy little mouse in the corner making it all too easy for people to forget I’m there. I got in this rhythm of silence and, when I dared break it by asking a question or making a comment here or there, everyone made such a big deal over the fact that I could actually speak that I would return to my shroud of silence for an even longer period of time. I made myself believe the antique “don’t speak unless spoken to” and went to bed every night with a head full of regrets and what-ifs. I’ve said this before, but there were times in high school where I could go an entire day without ever saying anything. When you don’t have any real interaction with people, how are you supposed to see what you can bring to the world? How are you supposed to see where you fit into society, into your community? How are you supposed to escape the pit when you can’t ever see the light?
You know, it makes us easy targets. In middle school, there was this small group of kids that would pick on me whenever they had the opportunity. I don’t consider myself to have been bullied or anything, but I became absolutely terrified of three of those boys in particular. I started closing myself off in class and would always think up some kind of escape route or attention-minimizing tactic for when I knew encountering those kids would be inevitable.
I kind of get it. Those pre-teen years are rough for everyone. You’re going through all of this awkwardness and self-exploration that middle school basically becomes a physical and emotional roller coaster. Very few kids know how to properly handle it and those three years eventually become one of the cringe-worthy periods of time you try and forget.
Then, you make it to high school and you feel like you’re so old, so mature. But, surprise, you’re still on that roller coaster. This time, though, it’s a little bit darker. Your thinking has developed a little bit more and you start questioning yourself- hard. It’s easier for you to understand the world around you and, as a result, you start comparing yourself to it. You start to feel that you don’t fit in and that you don’t really matter so much in the grand scheme of things.
What got me out of this little spiral was a very supportive, encouraging, and very present person who made it a point to let me know I was appreciated every time I talked to them (so basically every day). They didn’t have to always explicitly come out and say it, but they always seemed to know exactly what I needed to hear.
Was I extremely dependent on this person? Yeah, probably. I realize that now, looking back on it a few years later. When they were no longer in my life though, I was eventually able to recognize that this inner strength they led me to find had not disappeared with them. They may not have been in my life for long, but they came into it for a reason. I was on track to lifting myself back up. I took everything they showed me and brought it with me to college where I blossomed so much more than I expected.
So what am I trying to get at?
We’re in this together. Part of what it means to be human is sharing these kinds of experiences, even if it doesn’t always seem like anyone else is talking about it.
I know changing how you view yourself can seem impossible, especially if you feel like you’re going through it alone, but you’ve got to give it a shot. I can’t tell you how to love yourself- only you can do that. What I can do, though, is hopefully encourage you to try. It’s incredible what can happen when you realize that you do have a place in this world. People do care about you and you can leave your impact.
Self-love has been steadily rising in popularity in recent years and it’s so great. People are standing up and realizing what they are worth. Don’t let anything pass you by through thinking, “No, that doesn’t apply to me, I’m not like everybody else.” I mean, it’s true you aren’t like everyone else because you’re you. You are pretty amazing though, so pick yourself up, pack a bag, and go find that warrior inside of you. They’re just waiting for you to find them and let them emerge.
Whoever you may be, always remember how utterly beautiful you are, both inside and out. You don’t have to show the world that you are important- the world already recognizes this. You just have to step back from yourself and think about why you’re your own obstacle. Even if at first you take one step forward and two steps back, progress is progress and I’m proud of you for everything you accomplish. <3
“Sometimes the hardest part of the journey is realizing you’re worth the trip” -Glenn Beck
As I was reading around for this post, I came across the YOU MATTER Manifesto. It’s a call to action to empower yourself and acknowledge your significance to the world. I highly recommend that you read it!
List of mental health hotlines available here. Please, please don’t hesitate to use them if you need to.
~How have you fought against negative self-esteem and realized all that you are worth?