5 Lessons I Learnt From My Struggle With a Low Self Esteem

Hi guys,

October ends today. (Actually, it’s November 1st, but I was supposed to put this up yesterday, so let’s just assume we are still a day back in time, shall we?) I hope you guys are fine. I am. October was good and I’m already anticipating what God has in store for November. I hope you are too.  Today, I’m going to be sharing with you the last lessons in this month’s series. This one is on self-esteem.

Without much ado, I’ll just dive into today’s stories.

One of my favorite topics in the whole world is self-esteem. In fact, when I started blogging again, the very first series I treated revolved around it. This is because as a teenager, I struggled a lot with my self-esteem, constantly living with the feeling of being inferior to other people, primarily because of my body image and family’s social class. So many people in the world today have this issue as well and that’s why I try to share my experiences and the lessons picked on my journey to confidence anyhow I can.

Nobody deserves to feel lesser. 

Back then, I would admire teens who had the privilege of travelling abroad (on vacations or for schooling), those who got invited on TV shows, those who attended more prestigious schools and all. Even in my school, I still admired teens whose parents dropped off in cars, those who lived in bigger houses with chandeliers and stuffs. You know, basically people who I thought had more privileges than I had as a result of what they owned, what they ate, the kinds of houses they live in, etc. I remember thinking then, that those who could eat stuffs like Sharwarma or Pringles, without contouring their faces in disgust were the ‘ajebutters’, while those, like me, who couldn’t eat them were just ‘ajepakos’.

Whenever I was around people who talked about their experiences in planes, malls or fancy eateries like KFC, I’d just keep quiet, because growing up, I never visited any of those places. I guess all of these things just planted the seeds of inferiority in my mind, somehow and before long, I started getting intimidated whenever I was around those who had the things I didn’t have.

My looks also made things worse. Growing up skinny with small boobs and really dark-skin, especially in a society where the media kept throwing the ‘ideal’ body-image at me also contributed to the whole feeling of inferiority. So, I grew up basically hating my looks, wishing I had the things I didn’t have and doubting my abilities to do certain things. As a result of these, I settled for less on a lot of things, which brings me to the first lesson:

  • Go for whatever you want, if you must, in spite of your limitations:

One of the most common effects of a low self-esteem is snatching from you, the things you actually want. It would start with a thought, telling you you can’t do it. Looking around, you’d then find that the things you would need aren’t actually available. So, you too would now sit back on a spiky bed of mediocrity, doing nothing but wishing.

You want to sing at a concert one day and perform to a  great audience but no, you can’t. That one is for the extroverted member of the choir, whose voice doesn’t shake when she is on stage.

You want to learn how to drive but no, your family doesn’t have a car. 

These are obvious limitations and it is very easy to just sit back, but as my mentor, Funto Ibuoye recently said’ “In becoming all that God has called us to be, we have to step up, step out and stretch.” You’d be surprised that beyond these confining excuses, you can actually do and have whatever you want. I didn’t learn how to drive for a long time, because my family didn’t have a car but as I reached the 20s, I knew it was about time. So, I looked away from what my family had or not and told my cousins & friends who have cars to teach me anytime we hung out. I’m still learning. It’s not comfortable, certainly not smooth and very time-taking but it would eventually pay off.

There is another story I want to share here but as I’m spending too much time on this lesson, I’ll share that some other time. What I’m trying to say here is, if you want something, if you have to do it, then don’t listen to that tiny disapproving voice of mediocrity telling you that you can’t. It might involve you stretching beyond your comfort zone, but try. You can. God has placed potentials and gifts inside each and every one of us and He has also provided everything that we’ll possibly need to live a purposeful life. So, go do whatever you want, if you must, reminding yourself that you are unbound & won’t let your history, background or limitations determine your future. 

  • True Confidence is from the Inside Out:

Before I learnt this lesson, I used to think that a person’s confidence should be placed in the things that they have, in what they looked like, or the people that are in their lives. In other words, I should be confident because ‘heeelo o, my boyfriend is the president’s son’. You guys get, right? As a result of the mindset, I would admire those whose houses were bigger and feel intimidated by their affluence, but at the same time, take consolation in the fact there were some people living in houses way smaller than mine.

We all tend to do that sometimes – compare our possessions, positions, certifications, quality of education, clothes, even social media followers with somebody else and just measure who is better off, based on whose is more. If it’s us, then our ego is lifted, but if it’s the other person, that feeling of inferiority or intimidation may creep in.

I’ve once put my confidence in a piece of cloth, thinking that because I had it on, people would notice and respect me. When nobody did, I literally felt my self-esteem shatter. I learnt from that experience and several others ( I shared all of that in the Inside Out series) that our confidence should not be placed in material possessions – not in the amount of cars you have, the position you’ve attained, the person you are dating, the Brazilian weave you have on, etc. True confidence is from the Inside Out. This is because it takes loving yourself to fully embrace who you are and flaunt it. Love is from within and that’s where confidence emanates too. If you keep putting your confidence in physical possessions, what would happen when those things fade, go out of vogue, get spoilt or even stolen? My point is, these things are temporal and Inside out is the only place your confidence cannot be faulted by time.

Now, if you don’t have these things, you really don’t have to envy or feel intimidated by somebody who does. What you don’t have today, you might have in excess tomorrow. Besides, the little you have, manage it well. This brings me to lesson 3:

  • Manage the little things you have well:

This lesson connotes everything from cleanliness to maintenance. I once asked a friend if he had any cloth that was torn and if he still wore it. He said yes, simply because he liked it too much. I realized that I also have things like that – could be a peeled bag, a faded shirt, a ripped shoe, etc. Things I know I shouldn’t wear anymore, but I can’t because I like them too much or because I don’t have another replacement.

One thing I however realized is that these things tend to affect our self esteem when we wear them. No matter how hard we try to conceal them, our minds just tell us that everyone can see that tear or that stain, making you so conscious of yourself the whole time.

Now, if you can’t afford another one, please try maintaining the few you have. When you are going for an event, fix that loose button on your shirt, iron your dress, polish the one shoe you have, pack your hair neatly and just let your confidence radiate from within. That way, you won’t feel intimidated by others who seem well-dressed. However, if you can, (this may sound direct but) please, throw them away. Throw them away and just trust God enough to provide you with another. If you guys read the ’21 things about me’ I shared on my birthday, you  will know how much I hate lizards, but there was one day back in school while praying, God had me study a lizard that was shedding its skin. There, I realized that if even Lizards could change their skins in season, why should I worry about clothes? God will provide. If He cares for the birds and the flowers without them worrying, asking, begging or envying each other, how much more will He care for you. So, don’t worry. If you can afford to throw those embarrassing things away, please do. Trust God to take care of you and manage the few that you have left.

Okay so, basically I was supposed to share 5 lessons but this article is getting so long and I have to get back to work. You can read more on self esteem in the Inside out and Beautified series, where myself and a couple of others shared our stories of insecurities about our bodies and how we built confidence eventually. Until next time, you guys keep:

  • Affirming what you want to see, by constantly speaking, complimenting yourself  and declaring it until you believe it and
  • Keep working for the things you want, while spending time in God’s word, so your mind is established in the identity of who you really are and how high God had placed you. Then, you won’t think so low of yourself anymore.

So, there you have, the final lessons. Had to rush over the last two, but don’t worry, I’m going to comprehensively share everything with you in my book. Also, this November, I’m exploring the subject of Low self-esteem in guys, yeah, guys. Let’s find out if guys also suffer from a low self-esteem, why and if it’s an underlying factor that has driven some to drugs, radical activities and even violence. Till then, if you have anything you want to say, feel free to hit the comment. I always reply.

PS: If you are a guy and you have a story around your self-esteem you’d want to share with me, kindly send a message to mails4tirzah@gmail.com.

Bye guys. Have a great month! XOXO



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Author: Seun Olagunju

Just a simple 23 year old all out to making an impact.

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