My Struggle with Self-Esteem as a First-Year College Student/Advice

My Struggle with Self-Esteem as a First-Year College Student/Advice

A topic I haven’t yet fully addressed, but it’s time:

In the past, I’ve written a lot about how to be confident. That’s one of my most important themes here on my blog, and I really want to help other people feel good about themselves.

However, my first year of college was a struggle from beginning to end when it came to self-confidence. While some of it is still a mystery, I definitely have some ideas as to why I felt this way.

First, I was in a completely different situation from high school. Back then, I had a very clear idea of who I was, what my goals were, and what my place was. And then came college, and all of that had to change. Which is a good thing, but there’s definitely a period of uncertainty. During that time, I was worried I’d peaked in high school. But that wasn’t the case (hopefully!). It turned out, I had to readjust my standards for myself in the new phase of life.

Secondly, I was under the impression that college would be a lot different from high school, socially. And it is. However, you’re still surrounded by predominantly your peers, and it’s so easy to compare yourself. One, because if you go to a big school, you’ll never run out of people to compare yourself to. And two, because you’re thrown into the adult world and you’re scared, and you need to channel your insecurity into something.

This is all starting to sound depressing, so I’m going to try to be uplifting now. But first, I have to be honest: it’s hard. Being confident as a new adult has been one of the biggest challenges for me since leaving high school. You have to reach a point where you accept that you don’t know everything. You keep pining after that dude because you don’t know better. You accidentally put the wrong kind of soap in the dishwasher and it foams everywhere (@myself). You feel lonely sometimes. But each time something like this happens, you learn for yourself. And you move on. And maybe one day, you’ll be as smart as your parents are when you call them in distress.

So, that all has a lot to do with confidence on the inside. But I think we all want to talk about being comfortable with how we look on the outside. Face it, we’re vain creatures.

As someone who has struggled with body image, I have always placed way too much value into my appearance. So much, in fact, that I think it’s caused me to attract the wrong type of people at times. Although my priorities have always stayed loyal to things more important, like school and work, I think what has really suffered is my relationships with myself and others as a result of having a really skewed perception of how I actually look.

So then I get to college. Right. And I’m on my own for the first time, and I’m insecure to begin with because I’m just starting to dip my toe into adulthood. And so I look around my classes at other girls, who have shinier hair than me, or are taller than me, or are maybe even smarter than me. And I sit and think of all the things that could possibly be wrong with me.

I’m not saying all this to encourage this type of thinking. I’m saying it to be honest. Those are the thoughts that went through my mind almost every day.

So I started talking to my therapist about my lack of confidence. And she gave me some advice, which helped.

She suggested that I make a list of ten things I like about myself. She also suggested practicing more things that made me feel beautiful.

And I started journaling, which really helped me map out my thoughts and determine where these negative ideas were coming from.

In the end, seeking outside validation was never going to do it. I had to accept that just like art, I will not be attractive to everyone, and everyone will not be attractive to me. I had to realize that there is more to life than looking a certain way that I thought was perfect. That attaining that would never be possible, and if I kept fixating on it, I would never, ever be happy.

So, instead, I have thrown myself into what I love, which is art history. And doing so has given me the most confidence I’ve ever had. I feel confident when I teach a yoga class. I feel confident when I give a tour at the gallery I work at. And I feel confident when I roll out of bed in the morning, feeling like a groggy little sloth until I’ve had my coffee. I have learned to love myself for the unique bitch that I am, and it has been a lengthy, frustrating process. No one ever said becoming a boss ass bitch was easy.

All that said, do I like myself? Well, I’m with myself all the time. So some days I love myself and some days I hate myself, and that’s the truth. But I’m always on my team, and during the times when I don’t like myself, I can take a step back and figure out why.

So maybe the trick isn’t about being conceited and thinking, “I’m awesome,” even though I don’t think that’s conceited at all. But maybe it’s about batting for your own team. Being your own advocate. And instead of bashing yourself with negative thoughts, separating yourself and figuring out what the issue is.

So this was a lot and I guess my writer’s block is officially gone. And I’m about to post this bitch and probably sleep terribly because I don’t know how I feel about it yet. But I do know that the 983 words I have written thus far are the truest I’ve said in a very long time, they come from the deepest parts of my heart, and I really hope this helped you.

You don’t always have to like yourself. But you do have to love yourself.

Thanks for reading.

Grace

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