Growing up I think it’s safe to say I didn’t even have low self-esteem, I had no self-esteem. It wasn’t just a simple case of not being the current standard of beauty, having a bent nose, big ears and buck teeth – I just didn’t love myself.
Now I could make this post about how I was sad and avoided mirrors, but that wouldn’t help anyone.
Around the time I was in university I got to the point where I no longer wanted to go through life like this. It was honestly exhausting going through every day hating myself, my personality and my looks. It didn’t help my already horrific mental health either, so with aid of the internet and tumblr, I decided it was time to finesse my self-esteem. Since I had no self-esteem I needed to forge one and create it out of nowhere, so it was a long journey and to be perfectly honest I wouldn’t say I’m in the best place now – but at least I can wholeheartedly say I’m in a much better place.
My first step was inspired by a very old beauty youtube tag from back in 2008-2009 which I wish I remembered the name of. It essentially involved having the youtuber say three things they hate about themselves and three things they love about themselves. Now I obviously didn’t focus on the negative side of it but forced myself to find things I liked about myself and my appearance every single day.
To begin with, I had to lie, I can’t even pretend I could find things, so I focused on what I got compliments about. Like my hair or my big lips (before Kylie Jenner made it into a fashion trend), and then moved on to find more things. Whether I believed it or not, the focus was on creating positivity and associating my reflection of my looks and personality with positivity.
I’m not going to pretend that this is a short process, it took ages, but when I compare to how I see myself back then and how I do now, it’s a massive difference. I have a lot more confidence now and spend a lot less time hating myself.
Next step is to take more selfies, yes, you read that right. Now our generation gets a lot of stick for taking selfies but to be perfectly honest it helps so much. It’s not going to be about taking the perfect selfie the first time, but the focus is about being confident in your own skin to take a picture of yourself and really just own your looks. Then you have to post it and try not to panic.
One thing I really focused on in this journey was learning to spend time on my own as I would get seriously anxious about going to town and doing shopping on my own. Which doesn’t help when you’re living away in university as not everyone will be available to hang out at all times. So luckily I lived in walking distance of the local shopping centre and I essentially forced myself to be good with spending time on my own. Funnily enough, I now love my own company a little bit too much.
This step is important – don’t compare yourself to other people. Just don’t do it. It leads to a horrific spiral of disgusting negativity and it’s not worth the pain. Just focus on appreciating other people, if someones looking amazing instead of thinking ‘why don’t I look as amazing as them’, give them a compliment and think ‘wow this person looks amazing’.
By changing the first negative comment to a more positive one, it’ll slowly affect how you see yourself and other people. You’ll start to love yourself and other people, without comparing or lowkey competing with other people.
My last step, for now, is to take fashion or makeup risks that emphasise parts of yourself that you enjoy. So for me, it was bold lipstick, since I do have bigger lips than the average person. So I wore dark lipsticks, purple lipsticks, red lipsticks and just had fun with it regardless of the season. This also coincided with the time I was wearing my hair in its naturally curly state so that was fun since I received a very positive reaction to the lipsticks and my hair so I was starting to really feel confident in myself.
I won’t lie and say you’ll suddenly wake up loving every single part of yourself, but it’s all about taking baby steps and really just spending a good amount of time focusing on your mental health and your own self-love.
Like life, gaining self-esteem is a wild journey, it’s not about the destination or the end result. Since some of the people you look up to may not be the most confident in themselves every day, everyone has their off days. Making the decision to start focusing on being positive in yourself is really the most difficult and important part!
All images are taken from unsplash