When I was younger, I didn’t realize how valuable I was. After dealing with self-esteem issues for many years, it feels great to finally accept myself, love myself, and even stand up for myself. When I was a child, I thought my self-esteem was pretty decent since my mom did the best she could to raise me and instill confidence in me. My life wasn’t horrible—I wasn’t abused, neglected, etc. So why was my self-esteem so messed up?
One reason may have been because my dad wasn’t in my life—I didn’t have a male figure to show me how to be confident or point out my good qualities. Another reason was my quiet, introverted personality—I had always felt like something was wrong with me just because I wasn’t talkative like everyone else. I was uncomfortable in my skin and compared myself to others who were more talkative and outgoing: “Tina’s more outgoing, interesting, and well-liked; I’m quiet, dull, and no one knows who I am.” It also didn’t help when my coworkers/classmates constantly commented on how quiet I was and how I should talk more. Many times I wished I was like everyone else but I also didn’t feel comfortable pretending to be someone that I’m not.
As a result of those self-esteem issues, I got into relationships that I shouldn’t have been in because I was lonely and thought I couldn’t find anyone better; I thought I was “lucky” to have that person but I may as well have been a dog waiting for scraps under the dining room table. I was also afraid to stand up for myself—someone could talk to me in a disrespectful way and I wouldn’t assert myself for fear of seeming “mean” or because I was just too afraid (what if the confrontation led to a fight?). I could be in line at the grocery store and if someone cut in front of me, I was too afraid to stand up to them. On the inside, I’d be furious and kicking myself mentally for not saying anything which led me to dislike myself even more and compare myself to women who I thought were stronger and better than me: “They wouldn’t allow those people to get disrespect them like that! What’s wrong with me?!”
Years ago, I even saw a therapist because I was tired of my issues. While it was great to have someone listen to me vent, help me figure things out, and help me challenge my negative thoughts, it still felt like something was missing. The therapist didn’t improve my self-esteem; my relationship with Jesus did. I had always believed in Him, but never understood what it meant to have a relationship with Him. Once I started getting into His Word, He told me how He actually saw me—Jesus lead me to the book of Ruth (she was kind, loyal, and helpful) and to Isaiah 45:9: “Does a clay pot dare question its maker?” Jesus was telling me that there was nothing wrong with me because He created me! Getting to know Jesus was wonderful because he encouraged me whenever I felt uncertain about my qualities and he comforted me by saying “trust me” or “don’t worry.” He would warn me about certain people in my life and reveal their true motives. My relationship with Him is like having the dad that I never had but also having a genuine friend who cares about me.
Since my confidence has improved, I have been able to accomplish various things—writing a book, purchasing a car by myself, attending and enjoying events alone, asserting myself in certain situations, writing this blog, etc. Now, I’m not perfect; I still make mistakes and I’m still a work in progress, but I’m better than I used to be. I wouldn’t change my experience for anything and this journey was worth it because the Lord was right by my side.
Developing confidence is a process; it doesn’t happen overnight so don’t get discouraged and think it has to happen immediately or be easy. You are fearfully and wonderfully made! God knows you and sees how you truly are. God didn’t make any mistakes when He created you so don’t allow anyone (or even your circumstances) tell you who you are or what you should be. God determines the outcome, not them. He will give you the power and strength to accomplish what needs to be done.
This blog is about a variety of topics: my relationship with God, writing, life experiences, current events, etc.