I have suffered from a disease of my own creation for far too long. It has been a voice in my head preventing me from becoming my best self. And I know I’m not alone. If you think you may experience some degree of feeling inadequate, keep reading! I am learning to successfully cope and free myself from the extra weight.
- Jealousy or general anger towards specific individuals in your life (including friends and family)
- Self-sabotating relationships
- Avoidance of social situations (thenregretting it later)
- Fear of missing out
- Increased self-consiousness
- Inability to empathize with others
- Feeling like an imposter when with friends
- General unhappiness with self
Feeling like I could never be good enough followed me around like a 50 lbs shadow. I could pick it up and run with it at times, but eventually I grew tired from carrying around the extra weight. To prove I was smart enough I skipped a grade. To prove I was pretty enough I pursued modeling. To prove I was kind enough I volunteered. But despite my efforts I never felt smart/pretty/kind/anything enough. My scapegoat was my younger sister. I made her the face of my suffering. It was easy to point out every physical trait she possessed and demonize her for having what I so badly wanted. Assigning blame for the rejection of my reflection to someone else (making it situational) rather than focusing on myself (understanding it as personal) destroyed my relationship with my sister. I couldn’t bear the thought of her being so much better than me. Though our family was incredibly close and supportive of one another I distanced myself from her- at times dehumanized her even. It is a lot easier to be cruel to someone when they are too “perfect” to be human. Now that I’ve moved out of the house and worked on reassigning responsibility I realize how wrong I was- it wasn’t not my sister’s fault I was insecure! A new goal of mine is to mend my relationship with my her.
If you suffer from feeling like nothing you do is ever enough- take a look at your relationships. Is your personal conflict affecting how you treat others in your life? If so, the sooner you begin changing those interactions the sooner that relationship will become a positive resource for (rather than detractor from) your self-worth journey.
Everyone feels inadequate at some point in their lives. As college students, we all start anew without a reputation- how does that effect how we feels about ourselves? Getting to decide how you will be perceived is a privilege us freshman have in our first few weeks of school. That privilege has many benefits, after all you can start over as exactly the person you want to be. However, the downside is feeling like a fraud who doesn’t really belong.
Consider this: a few hundred young adults- fresh out of the pubescent years of high school, most are sexually frustrated, without friends, and given the newfound freedom of living without parents (for those who aren’t commuters)- are thrown together and asked to create make-shift families for the next four years. The first month reminded me of cereal tinder dating. Every few hours you are sitting across a table from a new person trying to sell yourself as a worthwhile person while considering if they are also worth getting to know better. Sometimes you click, sometimes you don’t, sometimes you swipe left and don’t even waste time on the possibility of friendship. I committed a lot of time and energy in the first month to meeting people and trying to appear fun and adventurous. Now that things are settling down I can finally relax and feel comfortable with the most sustainable friendships.
Unsustainable friendships are with people who you have to continuously impress. If you have to prove you belong 24/7 ask yourself- do you actually belong? And is it worth the time/energy? Beginning to accept yourself is a lot easier when those around you love and accept you as well.
- Being away from triggers helps a lot. For me that means being away from my family (who I want to prove myself to) is a really good thing! If you are still living at home and find your family to be trigger do your best to keep your mind occupied- get a job! Join a club! Go do homework at the park!
- Be ok with being alone because that is when you don’t have to prove yourself to anyone else. You can be honest about who you are without the fear of being judged. If you can learn to be content spending time with yourself it becomes easier to relax when spending time with others. Become friends with yourself. Relationships may come and go but you have yourself forever.
how you love yourself
is how you teach others
to love you
– Rupi Kaur (Milk and Honey)
- Surround yourself with good people who know your worth and won’t let you forget it. These people need to not only encourage you to be your best self, but accept you at your worst self.
- Get inspired by bad ass women. Bad ass women don’t care what others think of them. They come to conquer their goals. When I need a motivational lift to be care free and awesome I look to:
- Women in television: The Bold Type (on Freeform) is my top pick and was inspired by the real-life creator of Cosmopolitan Magazine, this show is about three women who don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.
- Pinterest: may sound cheesy but you can find a lot of empowering quotes and article links about being your most bold self as a woman.
- Spotify: Put together or look up a Bad Ass Chicks playlist. Put together songs that make you feel powerful. Bonus points if they’re by bad-ass women rockstars. (I added Joan Jett, Elle King, and Bishop Briggs)
- Read read read read read and then read some more: Read self help books because they will help you get your life together (or at least feel like you’re getting your life together). Read fiction because the bigger the world seems and the more you can think about the worlds and lives of the characters the less important your own troubles will feel. Read non-fiction because you will learn something and get smarter. But overall, just read anything. It makes the grand scheme of things seem to big for self-pitying and never fails to make me feel better about myself. Also, the more you read the better your vocabulary will become and that leads to sounding… wait for it… well read!
- Stop caring and give in when you’re tired of trying too hard. What I mean is if you are struggling to keep up an appearance just give it up and be yourself. You might find that people love you more for it. And if anyone doesn’t like you as yourself then you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life anyways. The minute I quit wearing makeup and realized no one but me even cared is when I stopped trying so hard. No one is perfect and if you are comfortable being real the people around you will be more likely to let their guards down as well. That moment you become completely vulnerable and are accepted anyways (or realize you deserve to be accepted) is vital for continuing the self-love journey.
- Accept not everything is about you. If you remember one thing from this article- this is it! This tip has saved me time and time again from downhill spiraling. I read it in a college-life preparation book over the summer and have sworn by it ever since. The cure-all for when I feel like I’m not enough is to recognize that whatever the problem is, it isn’t about me personally. Overall, when you accept not everything is about you then the jealousy, social anxiety, and every other symptom listed in this article are minimized or go away completely!
I am a better person when I take the focus off of myself. I am able to empathize with others and be a better more thoughtful friend. Being able to get past my self-doubt has given me the opportunity to experience things I never would have dreamed of. By thinking of others instead of myself I can spontaneously join friends for a hike despite having no makeup on. I can sit back and laugh at somebody else’s joke without it meaning I am any less funny. Once the focus is not on yourself the whole world opens up with moments ready to be seen, heard, and felt.
Not every day is perfect. But most days are pretty good.
Still in the process of building friendships, it’s easy to feel inadequate. But I have to remind myself to not take anything too seriously. If I’m not being included my insecurities pop up. But I have the choice to curl up in a pool of self-pity or not dwell on it.
When I feel the most rejected and lonely I look to a stack of get-well-soon cards made by my kids (I was a summer camp counselor for 5-8 year olds). If they love me and think I’m cool then I really don’t care about anyone else’s opinions. I reccomend having a physical anchor for when you’re down. It could be a photograph, a person, a stuffed animal, you get the idea. Something to remind you how much you mean to someone else.
And one morning you may wake up realizing you truly love yourself most of the time. That’s the goal. Take your time building the relationship with yourself. You have the rest of your life. Don’t rush it, but build new habits and gradually change your way of thinking. A new paradigm is possible. You are worth the effort ❤