Mental Health

My Ongoing Struggle with Self-Esteem: An Uphill Climb to Confidence

I’ve been struggling with self-esteem my entire life. I know I’m certainly not alone with that struggle, but when you’re in your own head more often than you care to be, stuck in your seemingly endless cycle of negative thoughts, it can often feel like I’m alone in that struggle.

I go through a fair share of ups and downs when it comes to my self-confidence. In more recent years, I’ve been feeling more confident in pleasantly unexpected ways, and as I’ve learned, when you’re confident in one area of your life, the rest will follow. Unfortunately, at least for me, all it takes is one minor setback for the momentum to grind to a halt. When that happens, it’s as if I’m back to square one, struggling with my usual shitstorm of self-sabotage and self-doubt and overall toxic thoughts that only hinder my growth and self-worth. I criticize myself for not being where I want to be professionally, let alone personally. I criticize myself for failing even when I know I’ve tried my best, as it leads to me feeling like my best isn’t good enough. I know everyone learns from failure, but I miss that joyous sense of accomplishment that I don’t really feel too often at this point in my life.

The thing is, I’m not unhappy. This horrible pandemic has definitely put things into perspective. I’m grateful for my family and friends. I’m grateful I still have a job. I’m grateful I’m still working toward my bigger goals when it comes to my writing and broadening my circle by taking online classes. I’m grateful for my own drive and determination. I’m grateful for my kindness and compassion. I’m grateful that I never let myself give up. Again, though, as easy as it is to tell myself to change my pattern of negative self-talk, to stay focused on my goal of becoming a TV writer, I still end up deflating when I realize that I’m still in the same place I’ve been for years. I feel stagnant, that I don’t know what else to do with my life besides pursuing writing. And I criticize my own writing all the time, including how long it takes me to actually finish a project. I did, thankfully, finish the first draft of a pilot that I’d been sitting on for years, so at least there’s that. But it’s going to need many revisions before it’s worthy of anything, and I get sick of working on the same thing for a long time, so I plan on writing something else and returning to it only when I’m ready. I’ve learned I can’t force myself to write. I have to choose to do it, and as always, to enjoy the process. Anything great takes time. I’m well aware of that. Authors go through dozens of drafts, so I refuse to quit.

Having said all that, this is all internal stuff that we can all keep to ourselves sometimes, be it our fears or our anxiety or our loneliness. And it’s not good to hold that stuff in, which is why I’m writing this post now. To anyone reading this who can relate to being self-critical at times, just know that you’re not alone. You’re stronger than you think. You’re worthy of love. You’re capable of far more than you realize. I try my best to remind myself to stop getting lost in this haze of poisonous thinking, and only by taking action and getting out of my head can I truly accomplish that. When I get overwhelmed, I remind myself to take baby steps. I keep reminding myself of my New Year’s resolutions: Do more. Think less. Stay focused. Love myself.

It’s extremely difficult when I know I’m capable of more. I know I have what it takes. And I hate letting myself down. I hate feeling bad about myself. I hate letting my faults outweigh by strengths. All I can do is acknowledge that I’m working on myself, that I’m destined for greatness, that I’m worthy of love and success, that I’m hardworking and resilient and smart. My self-esteem may be shaky, as even a pebble of self-doubt can crack the mountain of confidence I continue to work toward building every step of the way. As always, it goes back to staying true to myself, to believing in myself, to knowing that I’m not alone. I already know I’ve come a long way, and despite setbacks, I know I can keep going. I won’t let my self-doubt stand in my way. I will continue to nurture my confidence and allow it to blossom and grow. I choose happiness and courage and steadfast determination. I choose it for myself, and I choose it for you. Don’t give up. You are worthy. Consider this a pep talk for you and for me. We’ve got this.

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