Wednesday, 30 May 2018

How to gain confidence when your self-esteem is at rock bottom



My self-esteem was at rock bottom
When I was 18 my self-esteem was at rock bottom. After being bullied by some supposed "friends" at college I'd left the course feeling too paranoid to go out, for fear of what people would think about me. I hated every aspect of myself and wanted to be anyone other than "Sophie". Simply going into a newsagents and buying a magazine felt like a major stepping stone - I'd become so paranoid with what people thought about me that even handing over some change to a shop assistant was enough to set me on edge. Counselling hadn't helped, and I was at all all time low. Gaining confidence was an absolute mystery to me. Most days I didn't want to look in the mirror. I longed to have confidence, even just a little bit, but I had no clue where to even begin. 

I'm not pretty enough
By the time I'd turned 19 I'd made some minor changes to my confidence but my default setting was still 99% negative and my favourite thing to do was put myself down. I was useless with nothing going for me. I'd never get a boyfriend as I wasn't pretty enough. I had no dreams because I didn't deserve to. I wasn't going anywhere or doing anything with my life because I had no talent. If anyone put me down, I'd immediately assume they were right. Any critical comment thrown my way would be believed and remembered.


I couldn't wear dresses or skirts 
Once I'd met my first boyfriend I realised just how much my low self-esteem had affected every aspect of me. Shortly after we'd met, Graham had asked me to accompany him to Florida on holiday. I was telling him how I wouldn't be wearing skirts or dresses on holiday because "I''m not pretty enough. I never like getting my legs out... skirts and dresses aren't for me, they're for prettier girls with better bodies". Any dress or skirt I wore had to be worn with leggings (as above) or tights, even if it was sweltering hot, because of my insecurities. I realised I'd stopped myself wearing all the lovely clothes I liked; skirts, dresses, bikinis, swimsuits... all because of the way I saw myself.

My self-worth was weak 
For so long I'd "banned" myself, limited myself from wearing so many clothes that I just wasn't brave enough to wear. Now I look back and see this as totally ridiculous, but my self-worth was weak and at that point in my life I truly believed I didn't deserve to wear nice outfits. That I didn't have the figure for it, the tan for it, the body to pull them off or look pretty enough. The other week at Bluewater it hit me how far I've come. I was wearing an orange cut-out tie short beachy dress, something 10 years ago I never would have imagined I'd have the courage or confidence to wear. It's nice at long last, at 28, to feel confident and happy in my own skin. Our lives are so short and if there's one thing we deserve, it's to feel relaxed and reassured with our bodies. To feel happy. It's so nice being in my late-twenties as I wear what I want now. I couldn't care less what people think. 

  • "Meet Sophie, she doesn't eat or drink". 
  • "You're so thin! Do you actually eat anything?" 
  • "Do you make yourself sick?" 
  • "You haven't got any boobs!" 



Damaging, hurtful remarks 
During my early-mid twenties, my confidence was shattered numerous times by upsetting, tactless remarks - more often than not made by work colleagues - that affected me both mentally and physically. Often colleagues would comment on my naturally slim frame, insinuating that I must starve myself, seeing as I was "so skinny". I found myself having to justify to people that I did in fact, eat. That I had always been this size. Other people have looked at my figure and suggested I must make myself sick while one colleague actually introduced me to a room full of people as "Meet Sophie, she doesn't eat or drink". Another time a few women were having a conversation about getting their breasts checked for lumps and one turned to me and asked if I checked mine. "Well, you haven't got any, have you!" She remarked, before I'd had the chance to reply. Everyone else laughed while the comment felt like a slap in the face. I tried to laugh the remark off, but inside I felt like crying.

We don't go to work to get body shamed 
Only now do I look back and feel sickened that these kind of comments were deemed acceptable - and that I was supposed to just accept them willingly. We go to work to earn money, make a career for ourselves and for numerous other reasons but NEVER to get abusive, hurtful remarks made about our bodies. I will never understand how people can think it's OK to do this. Goes without saying of course, but if you hear someone making these kind of remarks about another colleague then please report it. I regret never taking action and just letting people get away with it. No one jumped in for me when I really needed it, and people like this will only go on and damage other people's self-esteem in the future.

I wish I'd been at a point in my life where I'd had the courage to stand up for myself, but unfortunately back then I wasn't. Shortly after that comment, I met a friend for coffee. "What a ridiculous thing to say. And she's wrong, for a start. You have got boobs, I can see them!" Came her reassuring reply. Ridiculous as it sounds, I needed reassurance from other people to disbelieve the "you have no boobs" remark. My confidence was that low that my self-esteem came at a price of what other people thought.


My self-esteem changed because: 
  • I changed my attitude 
  • I found inner-happiness 
  • I made dreams destinies 
  • I occupied my mind 

What I believed when I was 18:
  • My self-worth is depicted by what they think of me 
  • If they don't like me then it's my problem/my fault 
  • If they make hurtful remarks then they're 100% true 
The real truth now that I'm 28
  • My self-worth is down to me, and me only 
  • If they don't like me then it's not my problem 
  • If they make hurtful remarks it's a reflection of them 

I Feel Pretty
What we project inside we reflect outwards, and if you feel happy and at peace within then you will no doubt radiate this on the outside, too. The movie I Feel Pretty explores this - when we first meet Amy Schumer's character she suffers from low self-esteem. The film shows us how life can change for the better when you become a more confident version of yourself; embracing and loving every aspect of you - when you stop caring what other people think and start living the life you always wanted. Despite getting a bit of a negative backlash, I thought the movie was actually a really uplifting, positive take on what a lot of us girls go through, myself included. In an interview Amy defended the negative criticism by explaining that "The film isn't about some ugly troll, it's about a girl who - like so many of us - suffers with low self-esteem."

How to gain confidence when your self-esteem is at rock bottom? 

Set yourself goals, however small
I used to go into Zara or Topshop ready to boost my self-esteem a little only to venture out deflated minutes later because I felt like the shop assistants would be looking at me, thinking someone like me wasn't pretty enough? Trendy enough? Good enough? To be in their store. Eventually I persisted, setting myself a target of going into Topshop and not leaving until I'd tried on three items. Only a small goal, it propelled me into being braver and braver, until I found my confidence growing. 

Be encouraging, even on bad days
Set-backs are bloody frustrating, but they're also a natural part of any self-esteem journey. Take a bad day to remind yourself of just how far you've come, where you're headed and all you've got going for you.

Make the changes you long for
I stayed stuck in unhappy office jobs because I assumed it would never get better than that for me and that I didn't deserve to aim for anything I wanted. A lot of these jobs ended up draining the life out of me and making me ill. After years of unhappiness, I found the strength to finally leave and do some solo travelling. I know it's not always easy to simply quit a job, but even going as far as looking into new job opportunities can give you the boost you need to look into a new path. It's all waiting for you! 


Surround yourself with the right people
It goes without saying that people who love you for who you are = the right kind of people you need in your life. Positive, encouraging, enthusiastic loved ones who want the best for you and uplift you in every possible way. Negative, pessimistic, put-downers are the people who can seriously wreck your self-esteem, and they just aren't worth it. As the saying goes, your vibe attracts your tribe.

Chase your dreams + leave toxic situations
Working in a 9-5 environment was never my dream and in turn it made me seriously unhappy. Starting a fashion blog and striking out to write a novel gave me more courage and belief in myself. In turn I found the means to leave a job I was being bullied in to pursue my dreams further. Toxic situations are no good for our health. If possible speak up and out about bullying in the workplace, something I never did throughly enough. My situation was treated with little concern, and the culprit is simply left to keep the bullying going - a non-stop cycle. 

Prepare for ups + downs, but realise that's OK 
A while back when I was working in an office I found I was beating myself up inwardly because I had to work alongside a pretty colleague. Suddenly my mind was pointing out all my insecurities and by the time the day had ended I'd torn myself down and ripped myself to shreds - all because her prettiness somehow made me feel like a hideous monster. This is natural, something we all go through, but you have to remind yourself that just because another girl may be pretty - it doesn't make you any less. Yes, she's pretty but don't let that ruin your self-esteem, because you're damn well pretty too. 

"Be proud of who you are and not ashamed of how others see you"

🐝


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24 comments:

  1. I love this post, I love that you're not afraid to share your experiences. I love that you inspire so many xx

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  2. This was such a fab post Sophie and one I'm sure will help so many others. I'm so pleased that you're feeling a lot happier in yourself now, I think it really shines through too. You're right in everything you say, anyone who is negative are only like that because they have issues of their own. And for what it's worth I think you have an amazing figure, you're like Carrie Bradshaw - you can pull off absolutely anything! x

    www.whatjosiedidnext.com

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  3. I love this post, it’s so personal and a great read, I love seeing people confidence grow�� I can’t wait to read more of your content!

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  4. This is such a great post. Self-esteem is something that I struggle with and it is something I definitely want to improve on. I’ve also experience a lot of negative remarks from people.

    http://ohduckydarling.com

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  5. This is a great motivational and encouraging post Sophie. I can definitely relate at a point in my life. Thank God we've moved on from that phase. "Be proud of who you are and not ashamed of how others see you", I love love this quote. You're a beauty for real.

    https://www.missymayification.co.uk

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  6. Beautiful photos and glad that you have recognised that it doesn't matter what other people think, it just matters what you think!

    Kay xx
    www.mummywho.com

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  7. These are great tips, but it's so sad you had that experience! I think it's so easy growing up to be hard on ourselves, people can be mean and we do want to fit in and be liked. It's human nature to want people to like you I think! But confidence does come from within, and it's those previous years without it that help us realise how important it is and help us encourage and life up others frequently!

    Hope that you are having a great weekend! It's a busy but fun one here.

    Away From The Blue Blog

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  8. I absolutely love how this post developed into such a motivational and positive one! Very happy you've found some peace of mind Sophie, especially with regard to how you react to what other people may say about you. Growing up, my mum always told me that when people are nasty about you, it says far more about them than it does you! Fabulous post as always babe, have a wonderful week ahead!! :)

    Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice x

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  9. This post is so extremely relatable and inspiring. I think we all have our own variation of struggling with our self image and dealing with difficult people...it's beautiful that you've been able to overcome it and learn to work through it--and then share it with others! Such an important message; thank you for sharing :)

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  10. fantastic post !

    https://eilidhcross.blogspot.com/

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  11. Wow, I love this post. Your photos are so amazing!
    www.recklessdiary.ru

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  12. I love this post. I've just gone through a breakup and it's knocked my confidence a little - this has given me a mini pickup I needed!

    eleanor
    elleanorwears.com

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  13. Brilliant post <3

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  14. you look very great !
    best wishes, xoxo Sandicious

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  15. great blog with a lot of inspiration words xx

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  16. Very wise article, self esteem is so important and it doesn't matter what other people thinking. I'm so glad that you feel more confident and happy now!

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  17. Such a great and uplifting post, you have come so far and should be really proud of that! I can very much relate to some of the thoughts you listed, I didn't have a great high school experience and it definitely didn't help in terms of self-esteem. Like you said, it is incredibly important to surround yourself with people who lift you up instead of put you down. But it can be really hard to realise how toxic some relationships are, in hindsight I wish I would have realised that earlier but then it's easier said than done and especially as teenagers, we are so dependent on our peers. It is so true that nasty comments reflect the one who makes them, confident and caring people wouldn't need to put others down xx

    113thingstosay.com

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  18. This is such an inspiring post Sophie! You should be proud of how much confidence you've gained and I know that this post will really uplift those who feel how you did when you were 19. I was quite similar to you when I was 19- I always took peoples comments so seriously. You are so right in saying that its a reflection of them, not you! As for those work comments about you being slim, that's so rude! I honestly think they were just jealous as you are gorgeous. Never forget that :)

    Rachel xx

    http://www.thedailyluxe.net

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  19. Sophie this is wonderfully written and so uplifting and inspiring. I think so many of us have experienced these feelings of not being good enough. So many people are just so thoughtless when it comes to the things they say and it can really be so damaging. I wish I'd had something like this to read in my mid teens because it would have helped me a lot back then! x

    Kate Louise Blogs

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  20. Perfect post babe. I know the feeling and you are right your tips are great. I have never been so happy just because I decided to not care or believe on what other people think or say about me. Since then amazing positive people simply start to appear I have been very lucky in social media because my followers were so encouraging that they made me believe in myself again and I decided to chase my dreams Have a lovely weekend and surround yourself with positive people xoxo Cris
    https://photosbycris.blogspot.com/2018/03/fashion-in-marina-mirage.html

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  21. I hate that you had to go through this Sophie, it makes me so sad that people think that it's ok or even funny to make these kinds of comments about others. It's disgusting, but I'm so thankful that you found the self esteem to realise how beautiful you are inside and out and start this blog, because if it wasn't for that I would never have found you and you help me so much with all your kind words and uplifting posts :) xx

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  22. I’ve dealt with skinny shaming all my life and still cower away from wearing short dresses and skirts because of the fear of what people might say. I was a teen when the bullying got really bad, when I was in high school. Have never had any eating disorders, but people still take it upon themselves to tell me I don’t eat enough (when they’ve never seen me eating). I’m 26 now and slowly trying to just love my body the way it is, even though people still point out how thin I am.
    Thank you for sharing my thoughts as well as the thoughts of countless others who struggle with self-esteem issues. Your post has definitely given me a lot of strength and courage. ♥️♥️♥️

    www.addictedtolace.com

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  23. Oh wow, this was honestly one of the best posts I've read in a really long time. So truthful but helpful and inspiring at the same time. Thank you for sharing your story as well because that's really what I needed to hear. I've had a confidence slump lately because of something that happened to me and it's left me with really low self-esteem which is frustrating when you work to build it up! This post made me feel so much better though :)

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

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