Increasing Self-Esteem/Self-Esteem

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Hello,

My name is Liz and I am a junior in College at a top-tier University. I am writing to you because I am very upset with myself. I am still having self-esteem issues that have stemmed from junior high.

In the 5th grade, I moved from one state to another, and went from a very outgoing, happy, confident girl to a the very opposite. As soon as I moved to a new school, people didn't give me the reactions I wanted from them (laughing at my jokes, listening to my opinions -- in fact people would cut off my sentences all the time). By the 8th grade, I did not have one friend, still. Not one. I would eat in the bathroom at lunch by myself to avoid being seen alone without a friend. It was humiliating, and I was bullied and ostracized by my peers every day.
Older people told me I was the most beautiful girl, the sweetest, most fun girl and told me I was going to be a catch when I was older. I thought I was cute, too, and I thought I was funny, and fun to be around. I liked to be nice to people. But I could not figure out why these kids at school would not want to be friends with me, when older people thought so highly of me. I still can't figure it out today. I think I cried myself to sleep every day until I moved to a different state for my freshman year of HS.
Things slowly got better, and I came out of high school with a great experience and great friends. But ten years after I moved out of my childhood home, I am still struggling with a deeper, low self-esteem. I am in a top sorority on campus, I do well in school, I get compliments on my looks very often, and I have a great boyfriend. There is no reason for me to not feel like I can be myself around people, but I don't. It does not stop myself from sharing my opinions and jokes with others, but unless everyone highly praises and reassures me that whatever I did was astounding, I look back and think "What could I have done BETTER to make them want to be around me more? What could I have done to make them laugh". My problem is, unless someone tells me I am hilarious, or intelligent, or pretty, I feel like they aren't interested in being friends with me. And I feel like girls could turn on me any second -- I can't stand the thought of other girls talking behind my back. In the back of my mind, I am still scared that someone doesn't like me, and I won't know why. I still don't know what to say to a group of girls when they all know each other and I am the new girl around. People don't open up to me very easily, and I want them to so badly, but it is so hard to get close to people, and just as hard for them to invite me out to things. Even though when I do go out with girls, they say they are so happy that I'm there! But if they don't directly invite me out, I figure that they just don't want me to be with them. Even with my boyfriend -- I never ask him to hang out because I am scared of rejection...if he wanted to hang out, he would ask me to. It causes problems in my relationships because I get personally offended if my friends or boyfriend don't invite me out, or don't want to go do fun things with me. I wish I knew how to correctly communicate to others to tell them I liked them and that I want to hang out with them, but it's almost like I am entitled to them inviting me out and telling me how much they like me. I need these compliments from them so much, that I have no idea how to show them that I like them, too. I smile, compliment them on an outfit, give them a hug, ask how they are doing, but beyond that, I don't know how to ask them questions to show them that I care about them, or to keep them engaged in a conversation! And although I know that they all do like me, I can't get over this mindset. I wish I knew how to fix this so I didn't depend on other people so much for my confidence.  I know I look like a "princess" on the outside, but I over analyze things so much from the inside that I can't just live life. From as young as I remember, I have to be perfect in the eyes of others. I want them to admire me!!!! It sounds so arrogant, but I think I just want them to see me as I see them, or at least as an equal. It stresses me out everyday! All I want out of life is to be confident. The confident girl I saw myself being at age 21 is not the girl I feel like I am inside. I need something to knock me out of this mindset. Please, if you have anything that I haven't heard before from my mom, (haha), I think it could really help.

Thank you very much,
Liz

Answer
Hi Liz,

This is a classic situation where you need approval from outside sources to feel validated. As I'm sure you know by now, not everyone will love you, find you charming, or be mesmerized with you in life. Needless to say, there are plenty of reasons for this: jealousy, different tastes, disinterest, shallowness, etc.

Not that at first we don't feel self-worth by receiving approval from others (our parents when we are really young); however, you have to outgrow the urgency for that need and use reason and common sense to get over it. Again, we all need some approval and acceptance, but it can become a neurotic need in excess.

For example, if you know that you are a good person, you try to do your best most times, you show respect and consideration for other people, then what more can you do? Get over the fact that not everyone will love and approve of you. There is always room for improvement, of course, but do it for the right reasons. If your family loves and supports you, then just be yourself and concentrate on what's really important in life. Here are some articles that might help:

http://www.essentiallifeskills.net/buildself-confidence.html

http://www.essentiallifeskills.net/self-confidence-action-plan.html

All the best to you!  

Increasing Self-Esteem

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Zorka Hereford

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I can answer questions pertaining to a healthy self-concept, personal development and how to think critically about your life choices.

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I've written a book "9 Essential Life Skills - A Guide for Personal Development and Self-Realization". I worked a combined twenty years for a top financial institution and a number one communications company where I acquired excellent leadership and training and development skills.

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Toastmasters International

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Visit my website at http://www.essentiallifeskills.net to read my many personal development articles.

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I've obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree with studies in philosophy and psychology as well as a college Business Management Diploma.

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