Living with Low Self Confidence*

I remember being 14 and in my second year at high school, that was the first time my real self confidence isses began. It started when I had to wear braces (one year retainer and one year track, both a waste as they were incorrectly installed, my dentist has since been struck off). I was skinny with bushy hair, a big nose and rubbish teeth. I didn’t have the best of gear and my parents always encouraged me to persue what I loved so I played the flute in band and was part of the dance & drama club. I liked Disney and Harry Potter, and back then it wasn’t cool.

I remember my first crush and how he stringed me along, allowing me to help him in classes, we chatted on the phone most evenings about geeky things, then he asked my best friend out. It hurt so much. She was really pretty, dainty with big boobs, she was into the stuff I was into but also cool, she was the best of both, something I could never aspire to be. Although she was my best friend and I did play the “I’m happy for you” card instead of never speaking to her again (I couldn’t do that as I had so few friends) I cried so much and it hurt. I tore myself apart. Maybe if I looked less like a boy, or was allowed good hair straighteners.. but I knew deep down instead it was because she was pretty and I wasn’t.

I started counting calories, because weight was something I could control. I wouldn’t allow myself anything more than 500 a day and ended up so ill. I didn’t eat meat and would eat one Weight Watchers microwave meal a day then snacks to keep my sugar levels up. I ended up so sick and after a few health scares I did start to eat better for a while. Not only that, it wrecked havoc with my skin so I wore loads of make up. I changed my hair, often because again it was something I could control. Once I started at college I bought so much new clothes. I changed my style and tried to fit in. But I still used the opinion of men to gauge how attractive I was, and as I didn’t get my first boyfriend until just after I turned 18, well I guess that tells you all you need to know about my self confidence. It didn’t help he dumped me only a few months later.

10 years on I wouldn’t say my self confidence has improved any. In fact ways it’s got worse. The only difference is that men don’t have as much influence over how I feel. However, this could be due to the fact I’ve reached an all time low. I’m ugly. Whether I’m heavy or thin, have red hair or blonde, it won’t ever change how I feel about my face. Some days I’ve researched the Plastic Surgery Info Directory to see about prices for fixing my nose, and giving me better eyelids but ultimately I’m too terrified nor can I afford it, but on those days I feel surgery is the only option. I am so proud of my friends who have gone ahead with surgery, no matter how much we don’t want it to be the world is a superficial place.

So now I just live with my low self confidence. Some days are worse than other. Some days I can’t even look in the mirror, others I think “eh, I’m not that bad” but I am thankful that it’s only a direct attack from a man that can affect me. I no longer feel like I need a man to define how attractive I am as a person. I no longer feel like my weight dictates to how pretty I am. I’m not at my thinnest but I no longer feel like I need to calorie count everything. So I have managed to learn some things over the last 15 or so years, but I don’t feel like right now I love myself any more than I did and that’s of course a problem.

Low self confidence it hard and it’s a problem. It can lead to mental health problems like anorexia, in a way I feel lucky that I’m at a stalemate with mine. So when you see someone online hating on their appearance, not all of them are seeking attention, some of them genuinely feel that way about their appearance. Some may have even had therapy, or made themselves ill over it. It’s a huge problem in this superficial society but like many mental health issues it can’t be helped. I wish I could look in the mirror and see someone beautiful but I don’t and I don’t think I ever will. Instead i’ve learned to live with it and keep it to myself for the sake of my daughter. I don’t want her to ever feel like this.

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