On Self Esteem

How do we build our self esteem? What makes us feel our most confident? Is is what we do? Our professions, our accomplishments? Or is it who we are? The way we treat those around us and ourselves? Or is is a mixture of both?

These are thoughts that ramble through my head with great frequency these days. Particularly as a woman, it feels like I have to give one thing up in order to excel at another. And then I feel like a failure when the thing I’m supposed to be excelling at feels like an uphill battle every day.

I left my career two years ago to join my husband’s company part time and have more time at home with our kids. It’s a move that I desperately wanted to make and pined over for years. Like any big change, it came with some turbulence. My feelings were all over the place and it took time to settle into a groove. Eventually, I (sort of) found one. Then covid hit, and we laid me off from the company to save precious business resources. I was at home 24/7 with my kids during the first lockdown. It was a lot. We were all flailing and wondering when on earth this new weird reality would settle.

Now, almost a full year later, we are still deep in a pandemic that isn’t going anwhere for a while yet. The kids are back in school, at least. But everyday is groundhog day. It feels hard and monotonous. It feels like we are all walking through quicksand but the shore keeps moving further and further away.

So when you can’t control what’s going on around you, maybe it’s time to start to control what’s going on within you. It’s taken me well into my 43rd year to recognize that I have always had issues surrounding self esteem and confidence. I always shied away from things that felt difficult and out of reach maybe because of a fear that I would be unsuccssful in my endeavour. Maybe because deep down I didn’t feel like I had what it took to do the remarkable things I saw others doing.

I think that one of the ways that one can build their esteem is through accomplishing tasks. Small victories can lead to bigger victories and then when you get on a roll, your sense of self and confidence can really take off.

But what about the pandemic life for mothers? What if most of your daily tasks are making snacks and eternally tidying a home that is never actually tidied? What is the small humans you spend most of you waking hours catering to never cease to need you? What if there is no box to check at the end of the day but instead a day of endless tasks again tomorrow? And what if you stop and realize that this is what you wanted?

Where, amid all of this, do you find your self?

During this time, I started my Beautycounter business which has been a bright spot to focus on. But it’s also hard. It’s uncomplicated but it’s hard work. For every “yes” and every business success, there are 10 “no’s” and learning opportunitues. It takes a thick skin to put yourself out there everyday and take some risks. I’ve never been known to be particularly thick-skinned… but it’s coming.

I know that one certain way to achieve low esteem is playing the comparison game. Looking to the left and right and seeing the women who have thriving careers making a huge impact in their world and community. Celebrate them but don’t compare yourself.

Maybe the trick is just to celebrate yourself every day. Whether it’s because you got up and made your bed. Whether it’s that you worked out, you bundled up and went for a walk in -40C, you didn’t snap at your kid when they asked you for yet another snack. Maybe it’s okay just to be okay. Maybe we aren’t all meant to be remarkable. Maybe each of us are actually remarkable just by being here.