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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."

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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."

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"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."

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"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."

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

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"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."

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"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."

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"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."

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"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."

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"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."

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

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"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."

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"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."

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"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."

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"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."

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"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."

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

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"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."

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"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."

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"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."

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"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.

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