back to top

16 Problems With Self-Esteem That Affect Way More People Than You Think

"Reading on the Internet about people who have gone through similar situations helped me a lot. It was a slow process, though a wonderful one, and I reap the fruits of it to this day."

Posted on

We asked our readers to tell us about their experience dealing with low self-esteem. These are some of their replies.

1. "I feel like I lost a lot of opportunities because of shame and fear."

Dalinas / Getty Images

"My teenage phase was deadly! Extremely low self-esteem because I had always been fat and, in my teen years, the old "standards" of society felt suffocating. Even today, when things are better, I still feel those pressures pressing down on me when I first meet someone or whenever I receive a compliment. These days, my self-esteem is a roller coaster, but it'd nothing like it wasin my adolescence, when it was more like a pit."

2. "It was normal to avoid mirrors and hate my own image."

Dalinas / Getty Images

"Nowadays, it really hurts to look back and see that nobody did anything for me, when just a few words would have been an enormous help. Reading on the Internet about people who have gone through similar situations helped me a lot. It was a slow process, though a wonderful one, and I reap the fruits of it to this day."


3. "When I hear someone laughing, I imagine that it is directed at me."

Olarty / Getty Images

"Ever since I was a child, I have always felt inferior to others. I feel bad when people laugh around me, because I imagine that I am the reason for the bursts of laughter. It is difficult to talk about this with others because I've heard from ex-boyfriends that I just like to paint myself the victim — but hey, if I had a choice, I would never want to feel that way, and I don't want anyone else to feel it either.

This filled my life with frustrations, both at college and in relationships. Today, at 26, I attend cognitive-behavioral therapy to try to overcome these feelings."

4. "My adolescence was horrific."

Vmelinda / Getty Images

"When I was 14, I began having self-esteem issues because all of my female friends started to develop while I didn't at all. And on top of that, one girl in particular was a bully to me, saying that I'd never attract anyone's attention and, one day, she even went so far as to say that I should kill myself. I couldn't fight back. The boy I liked also didn't help out, calling me ugly, crooked-legged, big-mouthed.

But, over time, I learned how to love myself and, thank God, I don't have any more problems with this. Looking at my teenage diary is a horror show, and if I could, I'd tell my 14-year-old self: 'GIRLFRIEND, YOU ARE SMOKIN'!"

5. "I think people are joking when they compliment me."

"Even today, I sometimes find myself laughing when someone praises me and says that I am beautiful or intelligent. Not out of happiness over the compliment, but I feel like a joke, or like the person is making an effort to please me. Rationally, I know that this is not the case, and writing this, these things seem even more ridiculous."

6. "I would hear extremely hurtful comments and believe them."

Frimages / Getty Images

"I had a lot of issues during my childhood and adolescence that caused me to stop believing in myself and anyone else around me. Along with that sadness that I already carried with me, I heard extremely hurtful and unnecessary comments in school about my image and quickly began to believe the nonsense that I heard.

Last year, I opened up more to certain movements, especially the feminist movement which, in addition to "preaching" gender equality, also addresses the issue of self acceptance, and with each passing day I noticed that my own "different" characteristics were precisely what made me unique. Today, I look in the mirror and I feel beautiful!

The most incredible thing is that you become... lighter. Before, beyond just judging myself, I judged others a lot as well, so that I wouldn't feel as bad about myself, and that is extremely destructive and sad. Today, I perceive beauty in everyone and life is much better."

7. "I feel obliged to fit in with the standards."

Irmun / Getty Images

"When I was a child, I suffered a lot of bullying at school because I was considered ugly. I learned to develop my personality over time, but the sensation of feeling ugly is horrible. I still feel compelled to lose weight. But we need to unite and accept our beauty. Provide good examples to one another."


8. "I didn't know that social anxiety was a disease."

"I suffered from social anxiety that was so strong I was ashamed to change simple things like a hairdo or my clothes. I thought that this was something that only I felt. At 17, I have lived with this for 10 years, without knowing that it was a disease. I had several anxiety attacks during this period and had no idea what it was."

9. "If someone does not answer my message, I feel like biting my fingers off."

"I cannot send a message to someone without thinking that the person hates me, thinks I'm ridiculous, or finds me annoying. And if the person doesn't respond, I feel like biting my fingers off. And that is how I became a socially isolated person, which is only deepened by the fact that I work from home — but I'm not complaining, because I like to work like that".

10. "I was telling myself that I was ugly and ridiculous."

Mrljanica / Getty Images

"When I was younger, I felt horrible. I felt like a contemptible person. I looked at myself every day in the mirror and cried to myself about how ridiculous and ugly I was, saying that I hated myself. Today, I have moments of weakness, when I let myself crash and put myself down, but I think, "If I don't love me, who will?" If I don't accept who I am, my own essence is wounded.

I experienced a tremendous evolution and began to feel good about myself when I started to learn more about the ideals of feminism. The movement has helped me love who I am, regardless of how I am. As RuPaul says: 'If you can't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?'"

11. "My shyness was so extreme that I couldn't talk to anyone."

Kevinhillillustration / Getty Images

"I already had serious issues with shyness, to the point that I didn't have the courage to speak with anyone who wasn't from my family, even if the person spoke directly to me. Even when I went out with friends, I was afraid and ashamed. Today, I'm a lot more secure with people, but I am sorry to see that I could have made more friends in life had this not been an issue."

12. "I couldn't manage to recognize a single personal victory, no matter how much I studied or progressed at work."

Frimages / Getty Images

"I have already had many abusive relationships. Some guys said that I was not beautiful enough, good enough. And I didn't think I was able to find better guys. With all the criticism, I went so far as to cover the mirrors in my home. Today, I live through a daily struggle to adapt to my body, to recognize myself as the "very successful" woman that I am. It is like killing a lion every day."


13. "I thought that others accepted me out of pity."

Olarty / Getty Images

"I thought that I wasn't interesting enough to mingle with certain people. That they made an effort to accept me out of pity.

I felt guilty for not fitting in, for not agreeing with some of their opinions, and I felt alone because I couldn't figure out how to fix it. But I ended up distancing myself from those people (or them from me), and it was very good. Really, very good."

14. "I felt like I didn't fit in because I was ugly."

Kevinhillillustration / Getty Images

"When I was a teenager I had many issues with self-esteem. I was always excluded by friends, the girls would never greet me with a kiss on the cheek as they did with the other boys, and I was always the butt of all the jokes of the other boys. I felt that I didn't fit in because I was "ugly."

Time passed, I grew older, I met people who didn't judge me based on my appearance, they praised me, I accepted this idea, and I realized that i was not that ugly. Today, I accept my appearance as it is, but mainly I know that I am a person who possesses a beauty that goes beyond the aesthetic. Self love, my people, above all!"

15. "I like who I am, but sometimes I doubt myself."

Irmun / Getty Images

"Sometimes I feel incredible, I believe in everything that I have done, that I am, and that I have accomplished, but then I feel like I don't deserve these things for some reason, and I don't know how to explain why. Today, I'm alone and I think it's because I am overweight, or maybe because I am unbearable and nobody will ever want to deal with me. This all while I see myself as interesting and as a fighter."

16. "I'm always fighting an internal battle against it."

Cofeee / Getty Images

"I still have the habit of comparing myself with other people. In the beginning, it was with the beauty of the other girls, but then I started to compare my intelligence with that of others as well. There were unbearable times. I am seeking treatment and pursuing activities that I like so that I can "find me." I get a lot of support from my family, boyfriend, and friends... without them I wouldn't really be able to "see" my greatest qualities.

Every day we need to find a way to resist, to circumvent these sentiments that consume us. I know that I'll be fine one day, because I'm always fighting an internal battle against it."

This post was translated from Portuguese.

Every. Tasty. Video. EVER. The new Tasty app is here!