Earlier today, I was on a counseling community site where people go to ask for or to give advice. The questions ranged in subject matter, from surviving difficult breakups to managing anxiety, seeking treatment for depression, and so on, but a large majority dealt with a lack of self-worth.
Several individuals—in a matter of a few minutes—wrote about how “useless,” “dumb,” and “unattractive,” they feel. And they were convinced that if they were prettier, or more social, or this or that, all of their problems would disappear.
Living in the 21st century obviously comes with its perks: we are spoiled by modern-day technologies, which provide us with immediate entertainment and allow us to connect with others in a way we never have been able to before. But those same perks have undeniable drawbacks as well. Thanks to Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter, we are constantly exposed to society’s demands and feel inclined to meet those demands. We struggle to keep up with trends, to impress our followers, and to live out this life we’re all convinced is “glamorous.” And when we fall short of that lifestyle—which, let’s be honest, is virtually impossible to maintain—our self-esteem shatters.
Stop Trying to Satisfy Society
Picking up the pieces isn’t always easy. It may feel like you aren’t good enough—based on the images you see and the information you’re given—but the reality is that you are good enough. Don’t let the apps on your phone and the celebrities on your TV screen convince you otherwise. Instead, find the value in being unapologetically you. Caleb Backe, Health and Wellness Expert for Maple Holistics, is here to delve deeper into the unrealistic expectations we’re all held too and to advise you in embracing your unique qualities:
“‘Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.’ This adage by Oscar Wilde is age-old but has never been so relevant than in the digital age that we live in today. I imagine that when Oscar Wilde invented the quote, he meant it for all times, but today influential forces are stronger than ever. There was never a time that we could benefit more from this statement. We don’t even realize how often we bend to society’s expectations and idealized images, when deep inside we want to be ourselves—not a mimic (or trying to be a mimic) of the latest hot celebrities who are often famous simply for being famous.
So, what is the attraction that is pulling us to be like them? If we think about it for a moment, we’ll realize that these images we are idealizing are usually empty. Our hearts and minds are silently asking us to be ourselves, but the surrounding noise created by the media is squelching our inner voices.” He goes on to say that he believes adopting Wilde’s motto could “truly be life-changing. Social media is perhaps the biggest blame for loss of individuality and identity. It is hard to maintain our unique identities when information and images are constantly being stuck in our faces, demanding us to be somebody else. But what is wrong with being ourselves? When we constantly try to conform to every fashion and cultural whim, we are not being true to ourselves and are ultimately limiting our unique potential.
If today it’s cool to learn ice skating or go for a career in high tech and you’re terrible at both, please, do yourself a favor and do not bend to the masses. Follow your heart. Do what you love to do and don’t listen to the voices around you telling you to be someone else—they won’t help you succeed in life. We need individuals to contribute to our world, not carbon copies of each other.”
Be Unapologetically and Uniquely You
Now, I’m going to tell you what I told those community site users: it’s going to take some work, but you can be confident in who you are! And the answer isn’t losing weight or cutting your hair or being a more outgoing person. It’s figuring out who exactly you are and being the best person you can be. And the following tips will help you do so:
1) Do some self-exploration. It’s okay to not be sure of who you are or who you will become. But you should take every opportunity that comes your way to get to know yourself better! Doing so will boost your confidence and steer you in the right direction.
2) Surround yourself with positivity. Negativity does you no good—you should surround yourself with positive people and things whenever, wherever, and however you can. Write down uplifting quotes and compliments on sticky notes and put them around the house. Call your friends to let them know how much you care about them, and then reap the return. Be and seek positivity.
3) Employ self-care strategies. Self-care is underrated. We seek support and validation from others, but we don’t give ourselves that same support and validation—this has got to change. You should be your best ally. Start taking care of yourself by addressing your needs and even fulfilling your desires.
4) Adopt healthy social media habits. As discussed above, social media exacerbates feelings of worthlessness and damages self-esteem. You don’t have to cut social media completely out of your life, but it is smart to adopt healthy social media habits in order to protect your health and wellbeing. You can start by allotting yourself a specific time slot and limit for checking social media. Perhaps 15-30 minutes every four or five hours.
5) Find your people. And lastly, find your people, the ones that you can always count on. Your parents, your brother, your aunt, your best friends. Whoever they are, hold them tight and don’t hesitate to turn to them when you’re feeling down on yourself. Their job is to pick you back up and remind you of how great you are.