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My Victory Over Low Self Esteem

By Sarah Baker  

Self-esteem. Probably is one of the most important qualities you can have, especially for a woman. Unfortunately, most of us lack a considerable amount of this as a result of men, other women, family, and society in general. As a teenager and 20 something, this was me. I had no confidence in myself. I never thought I was good enough. I hated the way I looked. I never weighed the right amount, never looked the right way, never did anything right. 

One of Eight Children

As one of eight children, attention wasn’t exactly something that was easily obtained. I was a good student and good kid, so I slipped under the radar. Every time something good happened in my life, it never seemed good enough. No one ever talked about it or congratulated me on it. No matter what I did, I just never felt good enough for my family. My older sister was in the National Honor Society, Prom Queen, Varsity Cheerleader and she won Miss Personality at our dance recitals three times. She was “the hot one.” In fact, I had people come up to me and ask if she was my sister. When I reluctantly said yes, their response was, “she’s your sister. She’s hot. You look nothing like her.” Well thanks. That helps. Not. All of my siblings seem to have something special about them, but I never thought I did. They are all smaller than I am.

In my family, I’m “the fat one.” Well, there you go, my special thing. Right? You see, in my family, I’m not the oldest. I’m not the first to get married and have a baby. I’m don’t cause drama with my boyfriend and give ultimatums. I don’t have an attitude and lash out at everyone. I don’t flip out over nothing and back talk to my parents. I don’t cry over everything. I’m not the baby and only boy. I cause no drama and have nothing special about me. I’ve always felt like I’m just there, the black sheep. When I talk, no one listens. When I have good news, no one cares. All of this is wonderful for a teenager and 20 something girl to feel. It’s a wonderful blow to the self-esteem.

Me With Men

When it comes to guys, let’s just say I haven’t had the greatest luck. They’ve been emotionally, physically, and sexually abusive. Controlling, jealous, and cheaters. They’ve wreaked havoc on my already fragile self-esteem. As my family says, "I sure know how to pick ‘em." But with what I’ve grown up around, I didn’t really know any better. I wasn’t aware that the way they were treating me was unacceptable. I just wanted to make them happy. I didn’t want them or their families to hate me, so I would just stick with it until it got unbearable. It’s completely possible that if I didn’t fly so under the radar with my home life, maybe they would have noticed my self-esteem dwindling and I wouldn’t have hit rock bottom. 

My self-esteem has never been great. I never thought I was good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, or thin enough. I’ve always had an issue with wanting everyone to like me. I was in the newspaper and my family didn’t even know it. They could point out the article right below my giant picture, but had no idea I was there. My grandma routinely forgets my birthday, which is the same day as my great-grandmas, which she always remembers. She manages to remember everyone else’s, except mine, every year.

I hit rock bottom with my self-esteem a couple years ago after many failed relationships, mainly 3 guys in a row decided I wasn’t worth it, and gave me no reason why. I was depressed to say the least. Everything I had ever thought about myself seemed to be true. I just wasn’t good enough for anyone. 

Rescued by a Great Friend: "Pretend to See Yourself the Way I Do"

It took a friend that I’ve known since I was 6 to pick me back up. After I hit rock bottom, she sent me an email that still makes me cry every time I read it. In fact, rereading it to write this had the tears flowing. I have included some excerpts from the email she wrote me. 

“Until you decide to move past being Jessica's younger sister, or one of the Baker's, or the girl who works at the bookstore, or, heaven forbid, Sarah without a boyfriend, no one else is going to see past that. You have got to appreciate who you are and finally start to believe in yourself, if only a tiny little bit. You're an actress; pretend to see yourself the way I do.”

So I did. I acted like I could see myself like she sees me. I quit the bookstore. I used my talent with children to become a nanny. You can’t even imagine what a self-esteem boost it is to have a child, or in my case multiple children, depend on you on a daily basis. I try not to think of myself as Jessica’s sister or a Baker girl. I try to distiguish myself. 

“You seemed to question your self-worth MORE with him in your life than without. Any man worthy of your love should make you feel BETTER about who you are, not worse. He should encourage you to fulfill your hearts' desire, even if it means changing his own course.”
You Hold the Power 
A Partner Should Make You Feel Better, Not Worse 

So I found a guy who is like that. He supports me 100%. When I wanted to quit nannying and work retail, he supported me, even though I think he knew I wouldn’t be as happy. When I decided that I hated working retail and wanted to go back to nannying, he supported me. When I talked about going back to school out of state, he said he would find a job and go with me. He compliments me on a daily basis. 

“I’ve known you since you were 6 years old. Even then I don't think you appreciated how special you were. You would dance in tap class, repeating the steps you had just learned. Even though you were executing them perfectly, the expression on your face told me that you didn't think you had it good enough. Your face would brighten up if I told you you had it right, but only for a moment. This continued through high school, where your faith in yourself seemed to be tied to my faith in you. I think I could talk you into just about anything, but you only believed you could do it if I were there with you."

My Best Friend's Support 

I use her support in me to support myself. I know that at least one person is in my corner and is supporting me no matter what I do. I know that even if I’m never good enough for everyone, I have always and will always be good enough for my biggest supporter. 

“I think you’re still struggling to see yourself for the amazing woman you have become. Compassionate, funny, intelligent, beautiful. Yet, your self-worth is still tied to what you feel other people think of you.”

Forget About Other People: What Matters is You

The hardest thing that I had to do was forget about other people. I had to realize that it didn’t matter what other people thought of me as long as I was a person that I could be proud of.

“If you can only learn to trust the strength that lies within yourself and see with honest eyes what you’re truly capable of, then there is no limit to what you can accomplish." 

Everything that she wrote me really hit home. She described everything I was feeling and thinking to a T. It wasn’t until I saw them on paper that I realized that I really had an issue. I’m not going to say that everything was fixed overnight like magic. It was a slow process and a process that is still in motion. But I realized that it doesn’t matter what people think or say, what matters is me. So when I do something I’m proud of, I celebrate with a glass of wine or some chocolate. Celebrating me is what matters and it helps boost the self-esteem. When I’m feeling bad about myself or down, I just reread the email and try to remember to like myself no matter what and that even if no one knows or cares, I have accomplished and will accomplish great things. 

Smile & Love Yourself First 

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