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Introvert To Extrovert: One Week Later

27 Aug

It’s been a week since I started my little social experiment. Initially, it seemed that I was able to conquer each challenge but as with anything, life gets in the way. By life, I mean friends, studies, health and everything in between. Sometimes it’s a lot to handle and it can get you down. That’s what happened this past week. I allowed the stress to get to me and the more I focussed on my work and everything I needed to achieve, the more I crawled back into my little shell.

Stressed to the max, I didn’t want to socialise with anyone, yet alone with new people. Deep down, I was conflicted. I wanted to curl up into myself but at the same time I had promised myself to see this challenge through, so I tried. That’s the most amazing thing about the human body and mind, we try. Even when there is a risk of failure or humiliation, we try. It’s as if trying is second nature. You try to fix something, or explore somewhere new, attempt a Sodoku puzzle etc. You try. Ever heard of “try and fail but never fail to try?” My Dad instilled that in me when I was younger and I’ve tried to live by it since. See…I’ve tried 😀

Anyway, back to the challenge. Saying ‘Hi’ to someone new everyday is easy. When you’re at the store and the shop keeper says “Good Morning” and makes small talk, it’s difficult and not to mention downright rude not to reply with a bit of a smile. The challenge however, or rather how I interpret it, is for me to break the silence first. Responding to shop keepers does not count. So in that respect, I didn’t do too well this week. I didn’t say ‘Hi’ to anyone new but I ensured that my voice was heard by engaging in conversation with friends and family. Again, not what I was hoping to achieve with this challenge but it’ll have to do for now.

Instead of delving in to how I failed to overcome each challenge this past week, let’s just keep it simple and say that yes, I didn’t achieve all that much. My achievement however was the fact that I tried. The best part of this challenge? I can attempt to conquer it again this week and every other week ahead. Life is good that way. As it keeps going, you get to keep trying until you achieve what you’ve set out to.

I’d just like to make one thing clear though. Just because I failed to achieve much this week does not mean I will fail every week. One small setback will not stop me and to those of you attempting this challenge along with me, it shouldn’t stop you either!

Till the next update,

D.

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Introvert To Extrovert: Day 1

16 Aug

My day started out with afternoon classes, which was perfect as it gave me time to mentally prepare myself before tackling  each of the challenges I had set out to achieve (see previous post).

This is how Day 1 of the experiment unraveled.

Arriving at University, I walked into the student magazine office to start my first official day volunteering and spoke to the Editor. We had a brief conversation about the magazine and what volunteering involved before he introduced me to others in the team. I made it a point to be vocal. I greeted each member of the team with a cheerful “Hi. How are you?” and “Nice to meet you.” My parents always taught me to be polite 😉 I also asked the Editor a few questions which ensured that my voice was heard.

Not only was I vocal but I smiled. Smiling comes naturally to me so that was easy but it didn’t exactly fit in with Challenge #3, which was to smile at people who make eye contact. Sure, I smiled when I was introduced to others working for the student magazine and there was eye contact involved but I didn’t smile to the stranger who made eye contact while walking past me.

Have you ever gone walking and noticed a guy checking you out? I’ve hardly ever come across that, most likely because I often look away when I notice someone looking at me. I did exactly that today. I was fully aware, as I made my way toward one of the University buildings, that for a brief second my eyes locked with a young man walking in the opposite direction. Now, I could have smiled. I really could have but it was almost as if my body went into auto-pilot and diverted my eyes away from the guy immediately. Bummer. And he was cute too. Double bummer.

Later in the day as I talked to one of my friends, my brain decided to go into overdrive before my mouth could catch up, which resulted in me stumbling on some of my words. Embarrassing no? The good thing, which personally is something I quite like about myself, is that I laughed. Not one of those hearty, tears inducing laughter but a genuine laugh nonetheless. I found it funny and didn’t judge myself for making that mistake, yet alone making it in public.

As for the last challenge? I didn’t go all out and bust a couple of hip hop moves but I did sway to some music. Maybe even a little bopping, which I believe comes with being a nerd 😉 That counts right?

So here’s a breakdown of Day 1.

  • Challenge 1 : √
  • Challenge 2: √
  • Challenge 3: X
  • Challenge 4: √
  • Challenge 5: √

I might have failed in one but succeeded in others. That, I must say is progress 😀

The next couple of days may be tricky as it’s the weekend and I do have to study you know? However, I will try to work through these challenges again. Trying is important in anything you do. As the saying goes, “Try and fail but never fail to try” (original author unknown but I learnt this from my Dad).

If you have any ideas of challenges I should tackle, lay them on me and comment below. I can’t be doing just these 5 forever!

From Introvert To Extrovert: My Social Experiment

15 Aug

I’ve reached the point in my life where I’m just so sick and tired of being an introvert. Don’t get me wrong, being an introvert is completely fine. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it but it’s just not me, the real me I mean.

Who am I really then? Well, I recently went through some old Facebook chat conversations and one particular thing that stood out to me was the way I ‘spoke’ online, which was totally different from the way I am outside of cyberspace, in reality. It’s almost as if I have two separate personalities. First, there’s the quiet, introverted, almost invisible girl who stands in the corner and socialises only with people she knows. Second, there’s the witty, nothing phases me girl who just can’t stop chatting to anyone and everyone who will listen, or rather, in this case read. The latter, I realised, was exactly how I used to be ten years ago, before everything just got too much. I wasn’t always the shy girl. I used to be the fun, bubbly, happy-go-lucky kind of girl who made friends instantly.

Knowing that I once was an extrovert must mean that those characteristics are still within me somewhere, right? I believe that they lie dormant deep inside and need some coaxing out. So I’ve decided to challenge myself. Call it another social experiment, if you will. My aim is mainly to test the theory of “mind over matter”.  To see if the power of the mind really can control and influence the body.

Here are the challenges I have set for myself:

1. Say ‘hi’ to someone new everyday. If there’s a positive reaction from the other party, engage in light conversation. (I will try my best to do this every single day but if it’s not possible, every other day still counts)

2. Make sure my voice is heard. This can be either by asking questions in class (which I’ve never been able to do) or by simply saying ‘hi’ as per challenge 1.

3. Smile at people who make eye contact. I have a tendency to dart my eyes away immediately whenever I make eye contact with someone and never look back. It’s not a conscious thing but just a habit that I now wish to break.

4. Laugh, not just at something funny but at myself when I make a mistake or do something silly. Laughing at myself will hopefully train me into not taking everything so seriously. (I laugh at myself and at some very silly things quite often so this shouldn’t be a problem for me)

5. Dance. This will most likely take place in the privacy of my own bedroom when no one is at home but it should still work. Dancing, I feel, regardless of form, will help me be comfortable with my body. Dancing the goofy chicken dance will also help me to lighten up.

That’s 5 challenges for now. Number 4 and 5 shouldn’t be too hard to handle but the rest may be a mission. So over the next few days or week, depending on how things go, I will post updates on how I’m going with the challenge.

If you have any thoughts or ideas for more challenges to help me and others who want to break free from being introverted, please comment below or e-mail me. I will, at the very least, give it a try.

And so the experiment begins. Wish me luck 🙂

D.

It Does Get Better

19 Jul

When you are bullied and constantly picked on, it is easy to feel victimized. You hide away from the rest of the world and feel undeserving of any happiness. If you’ve been called ‘fat’ and were truly affected by it, you’d starve yourself or purge in order to control  and/ or reduce your weight. If you’ve been called or treated as ‘ugly’, you would either do whatever it took to look ‘beautiful’ or simply accept it and hate yourself for it.

In most ways, bullying often leaves its victims feeling resentment towards themselves. The feeling that they will never be good enough. Not as a child, not as a sibling, nor as a friend and often this will carry on well into adulthood. These feelings often stick with a person and becomes very difficult to get rid of.

For a very long time while I was being bullied, I never felt worthy of my life. I felt that I deserved my unhappiness. That somehow I must have done something wrong. As the scars of the past slowly faded away, the resentment remained. Despite being at a healthy weight and size, I constantly checked the mirror for any flaws. I needed to be perfect. I turned away from meeting new people out of fear that they may judge me. I isolated myself and became so introverted to the point that I stopped being able to hold decent conversations with people. I questioned myself, my self-worth and just never felt good enough for anyone or anything.

It took time and a conscious choice to change my attitude. I decided that I was worth so much more than just being a victim. My bullies may have taken away my childhood but I refuse to let them take away any more of my life. At 22, I have so much more I want to achieve and so much more to live for. I realised that when I changed my attitude and stopped being a victim, I could see the good things I had going for me. I took a stand to show the world what I was made of and with that my self-esteem improved. I now couldn’t care less what people think of me. I live for myself and strive to improve my life on my own terms. I don’t owe anyone anything. If people do judge me and feel that I don’t fit in with society, well, that is their problem, not mine. As the saying goes, “those who judge don’t matter and those who matter, don’t judge”. That is one of the many mottos I have now chosen to live by.

So, to all of you who are or have been bullied, I just want you to know that it DOES get better. YOU have to make that choice to live life the way YOU want to. Life is like a road, there will be speed bumps along the way to slow you down, but you just have to keep going because once you’ve reached your destination, it would have all been worth it.

My experiences of being bullied have brought me to this point. I am now stronger, more confident and able to fight back. As the song goes, “this is a part of me, that you’re never gonna ever take away from me”. Sorry to disappoint you bullies, but you no longer have a hold over me and you’re not going to break my soul. I dare you to try.

You’re A Firework

6 Jul

Self-esteem is most often a problem for many of us. Some may have too much of it, which is in other words, arrogance. Others may have incredibly low self esteem, which causes a whole lot of issues for not only ourselves but in our dealings with other people. I’ve suffered from low self-esteem for a very long time and it often creeps back into my system at the most inappropriate of times, and that really sucks, for lack of a better word.

I’m not going to go into any details or analysis of low-self esteem today. Perhaps for one of my next posts I’ll go into it further. Today, I’m just going to write out and interpret the lyrics of ‘Firework’ by Katy Perry, a song I feel is very apt for all those suffering from low self-esteem. I know that a lot of you have heard this song, but have you really listened to the words? Here’s my interpretation.

Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
Drifting through the wind
Wanting to start again

Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
Like a house of cards
One blow from caving in

Now, this is something I’m sure many of us feel. It’s when we feel sort of stuck, trapped and unsure of where we are going with our lives. We are simply drifting and feel as if at any moment we’re about to break, desperate to have a do over.

Do you ever feel already buried deep
Six feet under scream
But no one seems to hear a thing

Well, this just speaks for itself. There are a lot of times when we just want to scream, hoping that someone will notice but a lot of the time no one seems to understand and therefore do not hear our hidden cry for help.

Do you know that there’s still a chance for you
Cause there’s a spark in you

You just gotta ignite the light
And let it shine
Just own the night
Like the Fourth of July

There’s something special in each and every one of us. We all have a gift, something special to offer the world. Often it is masked by our own fears, our low self-esteem but we should take that small step to just do it. To know, in our hearts, that we can do whatever we set our mind to.

Cause baby you’re a firework
Come on show ’em what your worth
Make ’em go “Oh, oh, oh!”
As you shoot across the sky-y-y

Baby you’re a firework
Come on let your colors burst
Make ’em go “Oh, oh, oh!”
You’re gonna leave ’em fallin’ down-own-own

Show all those who have said that “you can’t”, those who have put down and made fun of your dreams, that you can do it. Show the world what you’re made of. Prove all ‘haters’ and ‘non-believers’ wrong. Because when you do, you will shock them and that feeling is oh-so-good.

You don’t have to feel like a waste of space
You’re original, cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbow

The top two lines are very important to me because I have often felt this way. I used to question my existence, wondering why I was put on this Earth. I felt exactly as the top line stated, as a ‘waste of space’. Having gained some confidence and taking charge of my life, I’ve realised that I’m here, alive, in this world for a reason. I’m unique as are everyone of you. We are who we are and we should continue to be ourselves because everyone else is already taken. No matter what hurdles and obstacles come our way, there is always a silver lining. Often, whatever bad we go through is paving the way for something better.

Maybe your reason why all the doors are closed
So you can open one that leads you to the perfect road
Like a lightning bolt, your heart will blow
And when it’s time, you’ll know

Here’s an example for the top two lines. There are times when you can’t seem to find the right job or the right guy/girl and you feel defeated, that nothing is working for you. Somewhere down the line, however, you end up with that perfect job or you find the right partner for you, sometimes you’re lucky and you get both. Someone once told me that the reason why you can never find the right guy/girl is because the right person out there is praying really hard. Waiting will always be hard, but like a ‘lightning bolt’, in a split second, things may change and you’ll just know it.

Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
It’s always been inside of you, you, you
And now it’s time to let it through

Each and every one of us is special. Our talents and whatever makes us special has and will always been inside us. It’s time to let it show.

So, if you ever feel that you’re not special, that you can’t do something or that you will never be able to live your dream, listen to this song. Sing it out loud if you have to because it reminds us all that we each have a special spark in us and that it’s time for all of us, if we have not already, to let it shine.

Here’s the video for you to watch.

Nerds: They’re Sexy And They Know It

26 Jun

Those of you who read yesterday’s post know that I went to a frat party.

Last night I found myself fitting the profile of a stereotypical nerd, standing in the corner with one of my friends, watching the crowd. Now, some of you may laugh at me for not breaking out of the stereotype but the difference about last night was that I didn’t choose to stand in the corner. In a way, I was forced to. The venue was packed, filled with hundreds of young men and women, and as with any party the music was up far too loud. It was difficult to talk and hear one another and moving around was a mission. At one stage it became so hot that the minute you stepped foot into the dance area, you’d sweat. Just like that.

So yes, I was forced into one corner and yes I watched the crowd as would a typical nerd but I also had a good time. When two other friends arrived, the party got a whole lot more interesting as we danced in our little corner and yelled into each others’ ears in attempt to converse. We were completely oblivious to what others’ thought of us and that was ultimately what was most important. Not to mention that I noticed a ‘jock’ look my way a couple of times, though nothing came of it and it probably didn’t mean anything. In that respect, I feel that the night was a complete success as not only did I enjoy myself but I broke out of my usual habit of avoiding parties like this and somehow managed to exude an air of self-confidence .

What I found to be most interesting though was the choice of costume most of the people chose to wear. It appears that being a nerd is now ‘in’. Almost every guy and girl came as nerds, complete with bright coloured suspenders, huge thick framed glasses and mismatched socks. They too seemed to enjoy themselves, more so than those who came as jocks or cheerleaders. I wasn’t at the party long enough to give a more detailed account but for the three hours that I was there, the nerds appeared to dominate the crowd  and the dance floor with their drunken antics.

All in all, it was a good party and it was nice to see the nerds taking over for a change. Looks like the times are changing. Nerds are sexy and they, as well as everyone else, are starting to realise it.

Nerd and Proud

25 Jun

Tonight is the night of a college frat party and in keeping with the theme, guests are to dress up either as jocks, cheerleaders or nerds.

Normally I would shy away from parties like this because in High School, I had always felt that I could never pull off the cheerleader look and let’s face it, what’s the point of showing up as a nerd? Stereotypically, a nerd would either be stuck in the corner of the room, eyeing the crowd nervously, bopping to the music, waiting for someone, anyone to ask them to dance or they’d become the target of the inevitable party prank. Both scenarios don’t usually end well for the nerd in question. Now, not all nerds would be bound by the stereotype, but I never wanted to take the risk. After all, I wasn’t just a nerd, I was the fat nerd.

Four years since High School, forty pounds lighter and with a hell of a lot more self-esteem, I’m ready to take that risk.  I could go to the party tonight as a cheerleader. I’m pretty sure I have the right attitude for it, amongst other things. But if I did go as a cheerleader tonight, it would only show my need to fit in. I’m a grown woman with a little more self-respect than to fall into the trap of needing to fit in with the cool kids.

So tonight, I’m donning my thick black ‘Clark Kent’ glasses, as I like to call it, my Chuck Taylors and of course a pair of suspenders, ready to show the world that I’m a nerd, I’m proud of it and I’m going to have an amazing time tonight with my girls.

I’ll fill you in on how it goes tomorrow. Who knows? Maybe tonight, as a nerd, I’ll break out of the stereotype. This is my little social experiment. Wish me luck.