How our friends effect our self esteem

Bullying and effect on childrens' self esteem

Head Lice

Self esteem story about a school girl with head lice and resulting bullying and insecurities


As much as I hate to admit it, my self-esteem has largely been based on the views of others for far too long. For most of my grade school life, I was blind to those that looked down on me. While I didn’t come from a wealthy family, and I was far from stylish, I never felt as if I was below anyone else. That is, until the fourth grade and my school’s first monthly head lice check.

A school volunteer sat me down and ran a metal comb through my hair, checking every inch of my head. It was discovered my hair was contaminated with lice. I was shocked. I had only known of my siblings having it twice before but the details were never explained to me. I was horrified to discover that it meant that there were bugs living on my head! They sent me to the nurse’s office until they had finished with my class. After that, I was marched back to my classroom, walked past all of those knowing, judging young eyes, to collect my belongings. Then I had to wait in the office until my mother came to collect me. One incident was bad enough, but, as a girl with four sisters, all possessing a ton of stuffed animals, bedspreads, shared hair-brushes, and 90s style scrunchies, it was hard to contain. My neighbour, and best friend at the time, also had an issue with it, and we could not seem to put this problem to a definitive end.

I became known as “Lice Head” or “That dirty girl” at school. Kids are so creative, right? Many former close friends began avoiding me, and socializing with me became something that only the brave would attempt. The mothers of the other girl scouts in my troop voted to kick me out, because they didn’t want to expose their pretty, precious flowers to this filthy (ahem… innocent, young, friendly, sensitive, and kind…) young child.

There was a group of “mean girls” who rode my bus and got on right before me. They made sure to take up every last available seat, and occupy the free spot beside them with their backpacks. They knew that I would never ask to sit with my tormentors, so I stood. The bus driver would then yell at me to take a seat; my bus ride to school was hell. In class, my fifth grade teacher would make subtle, awful comments to me that made the rest of the class giggle. I lost all enthusiasm for school within months. I ended fifth grade with only one passing mark, art.

The beginning of middle school was better and I started to think that I could let go of these issues that I had been struggling with. A bigger campus, kids from other elementary schools coming together, new opportunities. I was excited to see some faces that weren’t aware of my previous reputation. I went basically unnoticed, which was a vast improvement, and made a few new friends.

All was fine until summer break before my seventh grade year. I got a call from the new, popular girl informing me that my best friends, with whom I had been close to since early elementary, no longer wanted to hang around me. The reason for this? I wasn’t cool enough, and they wanted to be accepted by the cool crowd. This completely crushed me. We had always done everything together. We practically lived at each other’s homes, and they felt almost like family to me. It was almost as if I was losing an extension of myself. I felt lost.

The following school year, my reputation came back in full force. Though it had been a couple of years since my last outbreak of head lice, that did not stop people from finding out and making assumptions. Amazingly, it was even more intense having a large group of pre-teen girls yelling things at me in the halls in front of everyone else, than it is having them quietly smirk, name call, and manipulate your shame as they did when I was younger. These girls were out for blood.
I spent the rest of that year watching my former best friends ignore me from afar. I became closer with a couple of other friends, and even got my first real boyfriend. I still felt weirdly alone though.

The next year, it all changed. I gained my old friends back after they realized that being “popular” was not all that it was made out to be. I made a few more great friends, and along with a few of my older friends, formed a ‘defensive barrier’. We stopped showing that we cared and, instead, played to their mocking. I adopted a gothic look, black lipstick and raccoon eyes. I started doing weird things like eating glue when I knew people were watching, drinking out of a baby bottle, and drawing graphic pictures in class. If anyone would tell me I was a “freak”, or other such insult, I would respond with “I know, right? I’m crazy!” and then just stare at them, creep style. People stopped teasing me, because it stopped being fun. I was no longer upset by it, but amused instead.

Of course, this was all a big facade. Sure, it was fun, but I was masking the fact that I was still plagued with insecurity. This continued on into my sophomore year of high school. I grew tired of pretending, and I began dressing a bit more conservatively, though I still tended to favor the dark and mysterious, I kept it much more modest than before. After years of pretending not to care, somewhere along the line, I really had become desensitized. People may or may not have continued to say things about me, but I honestly did not worry enough to notice anymore. I guess what I took out of this, is that people can only break you down if you allow them to. Do not let anyone make you feel as though you are less than them, because you aren’t. You have just as much to offer. Enjoy yourself and have fun, despite the way others may view you.

I continue to struggle with my self-esteem from time to time, as do we all. I just try to remember that no one is perfect, and no one has to be.

scars and self harm

Scars

Self esteem story about a school boy who self harms trying to control his life


We all have scars in different places–they are like a roadmap of our history. Sometimes, we get scars from a mere paper-cut, while sometimes an unforgettable expedition leaves a particular scar on our body. But not every scar has such a happy story behind it. Some scars come from the deepest parts of us – our depression, our darkness and our insecurities. Some scars are not left by time, but are left by people, which are always the hardest to heal.

I have always been a very average looking guy, a boy next-door. I don’t come from a mysterious background that would set me apart from everyone else. I went unnoticed for much of my life. But I was happy with that; I had peace in being average. In a world, where everyone is trying to be someone else, I was myself and I considered that as an accomplishment.

As I grew up, I realized that life is unfair and not all your dreams can come true. When my own classmates started bullying me for apparently no reason, I realized that not everything in this world is our choice. When my own friends joined the bullies club and started picking on me, I realized that people can change, and can leave you in a heartbeat. When I fell in love and got rejected, I realized that some people can stay only in your heart but not in your life. But what I didn’t realize, was with that every rejection, my heart was literally and physically breaking into pieces. I didn’t realize that every time my own friends, with whom I used to play hide-and-seek in kindergarten, were picking on me or calling me by different names, my sense of self esteem was falling down. And oh, it did! It fell down to such an extent that I even forgot I was once content.
I thought about self harming a lot of times, every time they told me that I wasn’t “good enough” or “smart enough” or “rich enough”. But I didn’t. I thought that it was wrong. One day they told me that “this world would be a better place without you” and that “No one, not even a single person in this world would cry if you were dead”. The stupid thing is, for a moment, I believed them. I believed everything that they said, and not only that, I came to accept it.

So the thought of self harming kept oscillating in my mind, because I understood that my absence would make this world a better place. But I didn’t cut myself, maybe because I didn’t have the guts at that time, or maybe because there was still some last fragment of self-esteem left in me. Maybe I still had an ounce of hope.

I continued walking on a tightrope for almost a year, when the unthinkable happened and my rope broke. I was forced to walk barefoot on broken glass. I didn’t have any friends at all. My best friend was my grandfather. So when I lost him to the finality of death, everything around me changed. I lost control. Even gravity could not hold me together.

I had no one at all to talk to. A whole new level of depression engulfed me. I started to self harm. It felt wrong in the beginning, but how could something so relieving be wrong? I didn’t start to cut my own skin and let myself bleed because I wanted to hurt myself. No!

I started to self harm because I wanted to be in control. I was living in a world where I felt I couldn’t control a thing. I couldn’t stop people from leaving me forever. I couldn’t stop them from bullying me or calling me names. I couldn’t even stop my thoughts in my own head. So, in a world which was full of uncertainties, there was only one thing that I was able to control. Cutting. I knew where to cut and I knew how to cut. I knew when to stop. Ironically, cutting was one thing which was making me feel happy. It was making me take control of my life. Or at least I thought so.
I didn’t cut myself every day. It wasn’t a daily chore or a hobby. I would cut whenever depression would start taking its toll on me. It was one of the last days of my high school, when I had a bad fight with someone. I walked straight to the bathroom, rolled my sleeves up and cut myself with a razor blade. I didn’t know at that time that it would be my last.

I was familiar of self harming, but something was different that day. Instead of cutting my upper skin, I put a deep cut to my vein. Blood started to ooze out of my wrist and it didn’t stop. I first tried to cover it with a band-aid, but the dam had broken. When I knew I couldn’t stop the blood, I put a cloth over the wound to cover the bleeding and called my parents, who were sitting downstairs.

I don’t exactly remember what happened afterwards, as I lost consciousness. I woke up after some time in a hospital bed. I didn’t know how I reached there or who brought me. But I knew I was alive. And that feeling was life changing. I was so overwhelmingly happy that I was alive. For one moment, I thought I could do anything. I believed I could fly. And so I did.
Up high!

I took control of my life after having that near-death experience. I saw my parents and I realized how much they had always loved me. I saw my own reflection in the mirror and I realized that I don’t need anyone else to make me feel happy. I could dance my way on my own.

I have always been a one-man army and it was my time to shine. I became the writer of my own life, and stopped listening to what other people said about me. After all, it was my life, not theirs. I always wanted to be a writer, but my insecurities wouldn’t allow me to be so vulnerable and raw. But I was a whole new person, and so I penned a novel about my past.

The novel was published and did so well that it was declared a national bestseller. With every step I took, a small part of my self-esteem was regained. I was a brand new me, with an astonishing amount of confidence.

I was successful. I was living my dreams, but still something was missing. And I found my last piece when I met a reader of my book, who came to me during a signing event and narrated to me her entire story. She told me about how she used to self harm and was close to committing suicide. When she read my book, she told me it had changed her life. She said she was alive because of me.
Her words mended my broken heart back into a single well functioning organ. It was healed. My sense of self-esteem was replenished.

I never cut myself after that incident. Some of my scars are gone, but some of them are still with me and I wear them courageously like a battle-wound. Some scars can really change your life. They changed mine at least.

I’m happy now, more than ever. It took me a long time to realize I don’t need the entire world to define my existence.

I exist. I exist and that is more than enough for me.

Sex and self esteem

Sex and Self-Esteem

Self esteem story about sex and sexism


By Yvette Alatorre

Society sets us up to use sex as a tool for power and manipulation: where women with low self-esteem are manipulated into bed and stripped of their power and the only power a woman has is in the word “no.” Sometimes it feels as if our worth to men [is this right?] is entirely in between our legs.

I let society get in to my head and in to my bed to strip me of my self-esteem. I forgot I was pretty, funny and cool. I forgot I was someone that a man would want to be with for me, because I was brainwashed in to thinking if I said “yes” to having sex too soon, then I was not respecting myself.

See I used to believe what they told me about sex. That good girls made guys wait, while girls that didn’t were the kinds of girls guys just wanted for a booty call. These type of girls were unworthy of respect.

I had the misfortune of dating someone who confirmed this. I was 20 years old and fresh out of a long term relationship. I was new to the dating scene and a little naïve. I started dating this boy; I thought really liked me. He pursued me aggressively. After a few dates I decided I was ready to have sex with him. After we did, he disappeared. As if that had not left me shattered with confusion and hurt badly enough, I then heard he had been boasting about his plan to “hit it and quit it” before we got together. After his victory he told everyone I was a slut. I had always been shockingly confused how an act that took two consenting people only left me as the “slut.” I felt stupid and unworthy of being loved.

It took me awhile to realize that his actions said more about him than it did about me. But back then I did not have a supportive social group. Most of my friends were guys, guys who thought it was kind of funny I had fallen for his atrocious plan. Or girls who thought it was scandalous to talk about sex. I’ve always been an open book and I thought I could tell my friends about my sex life and receive support, but instead I received pity. So I felt stupid and disrespected by the world around me for some time, because I was sexual and open about my experiences I became a target for pity and slut-shaming.

There is an unwritten rule that a woman should avoid having sex until monogamy sets women up to feel bad about themselves and unworthy of a relationship if they fail to make it to relationship status before “giving it up.” We are human first of all; we have desires just like men. What we feel to be a natural expression of affection should not be controlled by what society deems appropriate. I would like to think that even if I “give it up” I am not giving up my self-worth.

When I have chosen to be in a causal relationship, even friends assumed I was a fool lost in delusion. I was some stupid girl being manipulated in to having sex with a man who did not want to be my boyfriend. Sure, I tended to have some sort of feelings for the guys I was sleeping with (I wasn’t going to bed with just anyone) but I did not need a relationship from all of them either. Women have needs as well and sometimes I just wanted sex too. But nobody believed me. They would say belittling things like, “You know he doesn’t want to be with you right? You deserve better.” As if I was not aware of my decisions or I didn’t have enough esteem to choose “better.”

Once I had been bantering on about this guy I was seeing and the great sex we were having. I playfully used the term “boy toy” to describe my sexy lover to one of my friends. He responded, “YOU are the toy! Guys are always using you as their toy.”

Even though I knew it was not rationally true in my head, those words shriveled up my self-esteem like salt to a snail. I stopped talking to my “friend” after that; I drifted away from that entire group.

Now I can see their judgment came from they had gone through, and not from what I was actually experiencing with those I dated. But the shaming and insecurities that came with it took had a profound effect on me; feeling as though I was doing something wrong. After sleeping with a new guy I was dating, I would all of a sudden become weird and uncomfortable around him. I was then just waiting for him to leave me, sabotaging the relationship because I was no longer secure in what we had nor in myself. I would be this confident, sexy person upon meeting them, but as soon as I had sex with them I would be drenched in guilt and self-doubt. All of a sudden how great of a connection we had no longer mattered to me, I was convinced my libido had ruined any potential for a long-term relationship.

I was tired of being treated like some sad girl who was just having sex looking for love, because no guy wanted to be with me instead of being treated like a human being still worthy of love and also enjoying sex. I was tired of feeling bad about my sexuality. I was tired of having to make excuses for wanting to say yes to sex with guys I was attracted to. And I was tired of being around hypocritical people who were doing the same things I was, but projecting their own insecurities upon me because I was open about my experiences. I did not need their shame on my shoulders.

Miraculously I found a group of sexually empowered women. Amazing women. They talked openly and honestly about their sex lives. Their very active sex lives. I did not see them as insecure women unworthy of love. They were human beings who desired sex and had it. They loved themselves and did not apologize for their actions. They did not need a relationship to validate their worth.

They help lift my self-esteem and taught me that not only did I have the power to say no, but also to say yes! Every girl needs a posse. A group that believes in her power and supports her. A circle of trust that isn’t broken by shame, but lifted by love.

I learned I needed to stop making excuses for doing what I wanted. Society has no place in my bedroom. Sex does not define me. I define me. I am not just my vagina. I am a woman and a human being with needs and sexual desires. I am more, so much more. Anybody who does not see it that way does not need to be in my life. To think of sex as a prize a man has to win if he sticks around misses the point. I am the prize! And anyone who does not want to get to know me past the bedroom is not the man for me anyway. It’s their loss, not mine.