BUILDING YOUR SELF ESTEEM ON A SOLID FOUNDATION
What does this even mean! Flashing back to college, it was my junior year and I had started to gain weight. Nothing substantial, but in my mind, it was as if you told me I was the ugliest person on earth! I had zero concept of body positivity and my eating habits were catching up with me. I remember being completely panicked about it. I would create these long intense workout plans (because that had to be the solution), and then literally do it for one day, miss the second day, beat myself up, and feel like I had to start all over again (by creating a new workout plan because obviously, this one didn’t work!)
I put my self-esteem on guys liking me. I wanted a boyfriend so badly that I had to be/look/act perfectly so I could find one! At the time I thought attention = love, and sadly it took me a very long time to realize that is not how it works.
When I was around 13 I was being bullied at school. I went to a small private school so there were only 11 girls (give or take) in my class and 6 of them didn’t like me. Naturally, I hung out with the girls who did, but I also started to hang out with the guys. I can’t pinpoint a specific incident, but having the guys pay attention to me made me feel special. I liked the attention, for those moments I didn’t feel like a loser who was being bullied. This is when I confused attention equaling love.
From 13 on I firmly believed that everything in my life would be awesome if I had a boyfriend. I devoured every chick flick movie and book that I could, each depicting the crush becoming the boyfriend and saving the day. Coincidentally that is where the movie or book would end. So naturally I needed a boyfriend, so I asked myself how do I get a boyfriend? Well, I get attention from a lot of guys. How do I do that? Obviously, I have to look good. At the time this was all working at the subconscious level, in my head I never thought it out as an equation, yet it was dictating my life.
I carried this all the way through college (and maybe a couple years after). I dated guys in college, but I would always put extremely strict standards on the guys. They had to be perfect because that is where I was going to get my identity from. That is a lot of pressure to put on a human, so naturally, they didn’t work out. Then my world came crashing down. I started to gain weight. Gaining weight was the worse thing in the world because it disrupted my equation. If I gained weight I wouldn’t get attention from guys, and if I wasn’t getting attention from guys, then I would never have a boyfriend, and if I never had a boyfriend I would never feel loved.
I had built my life on the quicksand. I was relying on my appearance and on men to prop up my self-esteem. For some reason it hadn’t dawned on me that appearances change, and men could leave. I hit rock bottom when I was 23. I was living in Columbus, I had gained 30 pounds, and relying on a boyfriend to come save me wasn’t working. I had to find something else to build my foundation.
I moved back to Pittsburgh and I started to pick up the pieces of my life. I hired my first life coach, and I started to make progress, but still stuck in this cycle. Through our work together I came to realize unconditional love was what would save me. At the time I also started to attend church. Through attending church I came to realize that God loved me unconditionally. He loved me so much, it didn’t matter what my past had looked like. I started to release the pain I was holding onto. I started to release all the shame and guilt I was carrying with me. I started to truly feel what love was. I decided that love is where I was going to find my worth, and through that love, I was going to build a new foundation that would never crumble.
When I chose love as my foundation my life started to change. My thoughts started to shift, my need for attention began to fade, and my obsession with my weight started to subside. I was able to start loving myself, exactly where I was in life.