When I was 13, I had the biggest crush on a guy I went to middle school with. I’ll never forget how I felt when I first spotted him. Whenever I thought about or saw him at school, I couldn’t stop smiling or wondering what he would think of having someone like me as his girlfriend. He was a little more popular and well-known than I was, so I wasn’t on his radar… until I was.
One of my classmates learned about my crush (since I was an excited teenager who couldn’t keep this news to myself). She told another peer who had a class with my crush, and in response, he wrote a note that made its way to others and eventually back to me: She’s ugly.
I’ll never forget how I felt after seeing those words in writing. I was crushed, and so was my self-esteem.
I carried the word ugly with me for the remainder of middle school and throughout much of high school. Whenever guys didn’t look my way, ask me out, or express interest in me, I thought it was because I was ugly. I struggled with my self-esteem for a long time because of something a guy wrote about me in the eighth grade. I never knew or realized how much something someone could write or say could have such an impact on the way I felt about myself.
After many years of doing the inner work to heal from that word, along with a lot of encouragement, support, and self-love, I did heal. The word ugly no longer negatively affects me as it once did.
However, to this day, I loathe that word because of what it did to me as a teenager. I despise that it’s a word people use to hurt others.
When someone damages your self-esteem, the road to recovery can be long and takes time to mend. Words hold weight. They have the power to uplift and the power to destroy. And though this is difficult to navigate, if you find yourself in a similar situation, you must acknowledge what’s happened. Because the bravest thing you can do on your path to healing is to confront it head-on. Don’t run from it and allow it to hold you captive.
Once you have confronted who or what’s damaged your self-esteem, choose to forgive. This might be one of the most difficult decisions as you pursue this path to healing, but forgiveness is not about someone else. It’s about you and for you. Forgive the person, and forgive yourself for allowing someone else’s painful words to become your truth.
And finally, affirm and love yourself. Because you deserve this. Loving yourself should be a regular practice. Even if he thought I was ugly, I know I’m not. I can replace that word with empowering, uplifting words like beautiful, brilliant, worthy, and extraordinary. And you can too.
Our self-esteem is our responsibility to take care of. So, dear reader, be patient, be kind, and most importantly, be loving with yourself. Don’t allow the words or actions of someone else to weigh on you or destroy the unique and wonderful person you are.