Dealing With Low Self-Esteem As A Student
Self-esteem is simply your opinion of yourself. It could be the positive opinions (high self-esteem) or negative opinions (low self-esteem). Your perception of yourself has a significant impact on your daily activities; how you deal with challenges, interact with others and participate in activities. Evidently, as a student, your opinion about yourself has a huge impact on your academics. The problem of low self-esteem is purely psychological and could be caused by:
- Excessive criticism while growing up.
- Relationship breakdown or financial trouble leading to depression.
- Lack of confidence due to poor academic performance.
- Physical disabilities.
- Abuse of any kind.
Truth is, some people do not even know where they stand on the ‘self-esteem scale’. Here are some of the behaviors people with low self-esteem exhibit:
- They are extremely critical of themselves and blame themselves for things that go wrong; which most times, they had no power over.
- They push themselves to be perfect in everything to ‘compensate’ for all their weaknesses.
- They ignore all their strengths and focus on their weaknesses; hence, they doubt their abilities and worth and avoid challenges in fear of judgment.
- They never believe a compliment and constantly look for signs showing that people don’t like them.
- They use demeaning and belittling words to describe themselves (such as: ugly, fat, unlovable, worthless, dull) and believe everyone else is better than they are.
- They neglect or abuse themselves and exhibit self-harming behaviors (such as: eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, suicide.
Now if you exhibit at least 3 out of 6 of the above, you are on the ‘low’ side of the ‘self-esteem scale’. No, you don’t have to worry or feel bad. It is something that can be remedied consciously. You have to make effort on a daily basis to boost your confidence. Here are a few ways to do that:
1. Take care of your appearance inside and out
Every day, take time to make yourself presentable to the outside world. I do not mean you have to spend all your day in front of a mirror or all your money on clothes, shoes, makeup, deodorants and accessories. What I mean is that you should wear things you feel great and confident in. This has a surprising way of boosting your confidence. You must not wear what is trending. If you are not comfortable in it, then it is not for you. Neglecting your personal appearance also has an exponentially negative effect on your self-confidence and kills your productivity. Did I just say that your productivity is influenced by how you look? Yes, I did.
As a student, you need to learn how to manage your finances. Spending just on your external value is foolishness. Inasmuch as you have to strive to look good on the outside, the trick is to also develop yourself on the inside. That way, whenever you need to interact with others on a certain topic, you exhibit buoyancy; that feeling is celestial. You will definitely be confident in such a scenario. Take out time to read and develop yourself on the inside every day because true beauty comes from within.
Also, you have to exercise. This helps in boosting your mood, decreasing levels of depression and helping you maintain your weight. You don’t need to run a marathon or lifts weights; you just need to get your heart rate elevated and your muscles moving so as to stay healthy.
2. Build a positive support network
Stick to friends that applaud your little efforts not those that tear you down with words that will leave you doubting your abilities. You have to actively develop a network of people who support you and spend more time with such people. Notice, I said “more time” not “all your time”. Inasmuch as we do not need negative energy, we need constructive criticism as humans in order to get better and develop ourselves. My point is, commit yourself to those people that listen to your ideas, go to your events, celebrate your victories, remind you of your importance after your failures and truly want to see you succeed. Your friends should motivate and inspire you. Your circle should be well rounded. University is a crucial part of your life. Your choices can make or break you; so always choose quality over quantity.
3. Don’t be scared to make mistakes
Now, get this, no one is above mistakes. Most people with low self-esteem are too scared to take chances; they do not believe they can do anything well. If you are a victim of this, then the solution is simple: strive for excellence by taking the necessary time to prepare thoroughly. Prepare and then trust your preparation. Your joy should be that you did your very best because that is what is important. Do not beat yourself up. As a student, you may not ace every assessment. See your mistakes and failures as an opportunity to learn how not to go about a certain situation. This is how you grow up.
4. Pinpoint your gifts, strengths and talents
Those who lack self-confidence tend to focus on their weaknesses and failures. A simple way to develop a positive self-image is to spend more time focusing on your strengths than on your failures. Ask yourself questions like:
- What am I good at?
- What do I really love to do?
- What have I done that has resulted in success?
- What subjects do I always ace in school?
These things don’t need to be extreme. Maybe you’re good with numbers and spreadsheets; maybe you have a big capacity to help those in need or the ability to plan effectively for the future; maybe you have a flair for fashion; maybe you have natural negotiation and business skills; maybe you have the ability to make people see why A is a better option than B; maybe it is the ability to maintain relationships with people despite their varying behaviors. It could even be that you are a good cook by default. These are all gifts and you should spend time focusing on these rather than your weaknesses. These are gifts you can turn into a career because you will be more productive doing what you love.
As soon as you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, immediately replace those with positive self-talk. Soon, you’ll find yourself automatically thinking and feeling good about who you are.
5. You are not in competition with anyone
What I have come to realize is that everybody is running their own race and each race has different rules and paths that determine whether or not you win or lose. You are the only one on your track; get that. Do not compare yourself with anybody. The result will inevitably be unhappiness and a lack of joy.
Social media doesn’t help us in this regard. Everyday we’re confronted with pictures and updates on people’s lives. You could be tempted to feel that you are not making any progress, you may see your mates to be more fortunate; but that is just social media. Things like that should not make your confidence waver. Everybody has their own share of challenges. One way to improve your self-confidence is to simply spend less time on social media. Live your own life and live it right.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt
6. Set achievable goals
Have you ever given yourself a task to do within a certain timeframe and you get it done within that timeframe? It felt great right? Set goals for yourself that you know you can achieve, yet will also stretch and challenge you in some ways. Once you reach that goal and feel good about your progress, do not stop there. Upgrade your goal. This incremental progress is surprisingly powerful. It will motivate you to keep going and stretching yourself, thus boosting your self-esteem.
Learn to love yourself. Self-confidence is not everything you need, but it is important. By following these easy, yet effective methods, you’ll find yourself bolder and more productive. It takes daily practice to boost a low self-esteem. Take risks, do things outside your daily routine, don’t be afraid to attempt, see yourself as one of the best!
Thank you for reading!
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