Self esteem is an elusive concept in my life. I've never really had any. If I believed all that I've read, it would be easy to find someone or something to blame. But to me, that's a waste. Understand for the sake of improving - yes. Blame - no.
At one point, I thought I had it under control. A well-dressed, well-mannered woman has confidence, right? And if you have confidence, you must have self-esteem. So I did all that; hair, nails, clothes, accessories, job, brains, etc. I checked items off a list, and one by one, I figured I'd established some solid self-esteem.
Then, not that long ago, I discovered my weak link.
You can be as confident, beautiful, talented, rich or successful as you want. At the end of the day, if you're doing any of it for others, you're not building your self esteem. It makes sense if you think about it - when you do something for someone else, there's no "self" included. That's the missing piece.
As soon as that set in, the whole concept really started to fall into place for me. I realized my whole life was affected by what others thought - not just my own self opinion. I was making every decision based on what I thought others would prefer; how to dress, where to shop, how to spend my time, what to do with my life - all of it was about pleasing someone else, making someone else happy or making someone else's life more comfortable or easier.
It took a huge leap of faith, and several small panic attacks - but I have started to overcome that feeling. I still stumble now and then - I remember something nasty that someone said, or I let someone else's opinion about me become more important than my own. I let my family make me feel guilty, or a friend make me doubt how good a friend I really am.
But my stumbles are fewer and further between. My recoveries are faster and stronger than ever.
Just tonight, I got a notification that I'd been tagged in a picture on facebook. My initial reaction was panic - I needed to jump online and delete the tag before anyone saw the picture. I managed to calm that feeling, and give myself a chance to take a look. I reminded myself to look past the face and see the person who I know I'm becoming.
For the first time, in a very long time - I didn't cringe when I looked at myself.