I’m relaxing after a typical Monday which included 8 hours of work, 2 hours of Madmen, and 2 hours of Sweets. I wanted to talk to you about something that’s really important to me. I think about it a lot and it’s something that gets to me. It gets to me because it’s an issue I’ve struggled with my whole life and I realize that it’s an issue that almost every other girl (and guy) seems to struggle with, as well. Of course, I’m talking about low self esteem.
Positive Self Esteem
I have been using my Google alerts lately for “positive self esteem” because it’s a topic I’m interested in. A lot of the stories I see are articles telling women how to have positive self esteem and a lot of the articles are just the opposite. One struck me pretty hard. It was probably 2 weeks ago that I saw this one. It was about a young girl who posted a video on Youtube asking people if she was pretty or not. Oh my gosh! How awful is that? Talk about depending on other people for confidence.
Then, today, I saw about 4 articles about the same thing. Facebook. The title of the article is “Facebook May Not Be So Friendly For Those With Low Self-Esteem.” It turns out that Facebook can be rather alienating…go figure. Those little thumbs ups called “Likes” can really get to people. I know the feeling. I have seen the same phenomenon happen with that game Apples to Apples. You try to be funny but nobody gets your humor. It’s a horrible feeling. I remember in my freshmen year psych class, we talked about being included and liked and how it was a NECESSARY piece for humans to be happy. We want to be liked. We want to be included. So, it turns out the Facebook study found that people don’t like it when you post negative posts. It also found that people with high self esteem don’t post negative things. They post grateful, positive things.
Fake It Til You Make It
Hmm. Ok. So, here’s my thought. Ever heard of the phrase, “fake it til you make it?” I live by this. I don’t know where I fall on the scale of self esteem. My family never really talked about feelings growing up and the whole idea of talking about feelings freaks me out. My way of coping with sadness or uncomfortable-ness is humor. I laugh at just about everything. Seriously. Not that I recommend laughing at everything. I think it is very healthy to FEEL whatever it is you’re feeling. Lately, these past few years, I’ve had to grow up quite a bit because I moved to Denver for my first job ever. I was 22, taking on my first full time office job, moving away from my friends and family, to a place where I knew no one. Rough (at least for me.) Then, I broke up with my boyfriend 3 weeks after moving. What could I do? Cry every day. No. I laughed it off. I listened to happy music. I faked it. And eventually, I made it.
I hope I don’t look back at this blog in the future and think, “Oh my gosh! Did I just advise everyone to repress their feelings?” I don’t think that’s what I’m doing. I really don’t, but I’m never one to be certain about anything. I’m a philosopher and in philosophy, there are hardly any universal truths. But, here’s my thought: Start being more grateful. Next time you encounter something bad in your life, turn around and realize how much good you have. Acknowledge your sadness – allow yourself to feel it – and move on. Act like a happy, positive person would, and eventually, you will become one.
It’s Ok to Be Sad
I used to get mad at myself for being sad. In college, my senior year, I was SO stressed out. I had the senior blues. Graduating is really scary because all of a sudden, you have to decide what to do with your life and that will make anyone sad. So, after getting pretty upset, I signed up to go see the free on-campus therapists. I told him, “I don’t feel good about complaining about my issues, when I know people are starving in the world.” It has taken me awhile to understand this feeling.
I just met a marine last week who put it best: “If you have a broken leg, looking at a guy with a shot wound won’t heal your leg.” He’s right. You still have a broken leg and you have to deal with it. I guess all I wanted to say tonight was we are all in this together. All of us with low self esteem which includes everyone, right? At least everyone I know.
Ok. So, here’s what I can leave you with. 3 amazing songs that helped me get through those really hard times when I first moved to Denver.
Chanda Mama by Playing for Change: I don’t know what it is about this song but it makes me feel like everything is going to be ok. I totally have a crush on the girl – you’ll know the one when you see the video.
I’m Ready by Tracy Chapman: I love her. She has the most genuine music. The first line in this song is: “I want to wake up and know where I’m going.” I just love this line. It captured the way I felt my senior year when I didn’t know where I wanted to go.
Lastly, here’s a great country song for you cowpokes: The Shape I’m In by Joe Nichols. At my old house, I lived with 3 other people and our house motto was “Lower that bar” meaning lower your expectations. This song’s chorus says “Ya, I’m doing alright for the shape I’m in.” He recognizes that he’s hanging in there and it’s not great but it’s ok for now. I like that. Lower that bar.
I listened to these nonstop. Every morning, I would run to my laptop and turn one of them on before anything sad could get in my head and I would feel so much better. Try it and hang in there.