I had absolutely no self-esteem from day one as a child. My earliest memories of my childhood are memories of being teased starting in sixth grade by my peers and it continued throughout the rest of my childhood and adolescent years. This phenomenon is significantly worse today in a variety of ways than it was then, but it definitely took a serious toll on me. The reason the teasing began is because I started attending a new school in sixth grade. The reason the teasing continued throughout my childhood and adolescent years is because I heard the same mean and nasty comments from the same kids day after day for years, which caused me to believe that they were true. In short, the teasing turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy, which means that if you hear the same comments repeatedly, you believe them to be true.
At the age of ten, I already knew I wanted to help people in a specific way, but I was too young to articulate the specific way that I wanted to help people. Even though I was too young to articulate it, I wanted to help people develop healthy levels of self-esteem and confidence to prevent bullying. In sixth grade, I had a math teacher I really liked and I performed well in his class. However, I will never forget him because of one incident. One day in his class, he was upset with us for some reason and started raising his voice at us saying things like, “If you don’t like yourself, then no one else will like you either,” and “If you don’t like yourself, you won’t have any friends.” He “lectured” us with statements like these for most of the rest of the class. These statements really affected me to the point where I pondered them for a long time afterwards. I kept thinking to myself, “I don’t like myself, but I have friends,” “I don’t like myself, but it seems like I have friends,” “I don’t like myself, but other kids like me,” and “I don’t like myself, but it seems like other kids like me.” I had these thoughts because it was typical at that time for kids to go outside and play after school in their neighborhoods until it was time for dinner. Since I went outside to play after school with the other kids in my neighborhood, I thought I had friends. I mistook “playing with other kids” to mean that other kids liked me and I had friends.
It was like a big puzzle or word problem that I couldn’t solve immediately or for a long time. It was a conundrum. However, as I continued to ponder the statements made by my sixth grade math teacher, I came to the realization that just because the kids in my neighborhood played with me doesn’t mean they liked me or that they were my friends. The teasing, which is called bullying today, continued through junior high and high school. I did not make any real friends until I was in high school. The only reason I was able to make friends in high school was because the kids from two junior high schools merged into one high school. So I was able to make friends with some of the kids who came from the other junior high school that I did not attend. The kids who came from the other junior high school did not know anything about me or the teasing I endured. They did not know that the majority of the kids with whom I attended junior high school did not like me and teased me. In a sense, I was a “clean slate” from their perspective, which enabled me to make friends with them, even though I still had not developed much self-esteem.
Because of being teased over a number of years and the teasing becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, I developed very little, if any, self-esteem during those years. Even though I made some friends in high school, the teasing that became a self-fulfilling prophecy culminated in severe depression. The teasing/bullying did not stop until I went away to college. Early in my teenage years, I discovered the music of The Who. Until that point in time, I thought and felt like, I was the only one who was depressed and never had any real friends. In spite of this, I smiled most of the time around other people, including my family, to hide the pain. When I discovered The Who’s music, I discovered that there were an infinite number of songs that made me realize that I wasn’t the only one who ever felt despised, left out and depressed. In this, I found hope! It was because of songs like “How Many Friends” (The Who By Numbers), “Had Enough” (Who Are You), “I’ve Had Enough (Quadrophenia), “Is It In My Head” (Quadrophenia), “Behind Blue Eyes” (Who’s Next), among many others that I found hope. Since I had “hours only lonely,” I spent much of my time in my bedroom with the door closed laying on the floor with my head between my relatively large speakers with my eyes closed, and the music of The Who cranked up. I don’t know where I went but I would let it transport me.
I knew I wanted to go to college and I knew that I wanted to go to a college out of state so that I could start over where no one knew me or my history of being teased. I reversed a sociological concept called the Looking Glass Self without any knowledge of the concept. I pretended to like myself so that I would make friends. As a result of making friends, I was able to develop some self-esteem so that I no longer had to pretend to like myself. In other words, “I faked it til I made it.” It was then that I knew that I wanted to help people with their self-esteem and confidence. In college, I discovered sociology which provided me with a world view and helped me make sense, not only of the world around me, but of the teasing I endured as a child and adolescent.
I earned my Ph.D. in sociology and was a college professor for over ten years. Sociological research shows that when women dress up and accessorize their outfits, they feel better about the way they look, which in turn, means that they feel better about themselves. When they go out into the world feeling better about themselves, they will be noticed in positive ways (i.e., they will be complimented), which in turn, will help them to find their voice and ultimately become more confident. Increased confidence will empower them to be, do and achieve anything they want in the world.
People judge each other in both positive and negative ways, and we either develop a healthy level of self-esteem or not as a result. I truly believe that lack of self-esteem is one of the major reasons for the lack of love, kindness, compassion and respect in the world today. When you don’t love yourself, no one else will love you either. By helping one woman at a time to become more confident and empowered, I can help to change the world to be more kind, loving, compassionate and respectful.
I help you to increase your level of self-esteem and confidence, and ultimately help you to empower yourself so that you can be, do and achieve anything you want!