YOU ARE LOVELY - My Battle with Low Self-Esteem

Saturday, January 27, 2018

This post was very hard for me to write. I'm usually an open book and I probably share more about my personal life than I should, but that's never been a problem for me. I live a life where I don't really care if people are judging me. However, this post was different.  I was challenged to do a post featuring myself in my natural state. No...not nude, but raw me with no makeup, no filters, and no wigs. Some of you may be thinking, "What's the big deal about that?" Well, it may not be stunningly obvious to you, based on my blog and social media posts, but I do suffer from low self-esteem, low self-confidence, and negative self imagery of myself. I don't think I'm the same level of pretty with my natural hair as when I'm wearing my wigs.

When I think about the above statement, it saddens me for many reasons.  I should feel pretty without any enhancements. After all, my natural state is what God intended for me to look like, right? So am I saying God's work is terrible?  I also feel that I'm letting my parents down or somehow making this appear to be a bad reflection on them and their looks since they created me.  I've always thought my sister was the pretty one. What do they think, when I say "I don't think I'm pretty."? My Mom is very pretty and my Dad is very handsome.  My personal feelings about my natural state do not reflect how I view them.  And lastly, it saddens me because I wasn't born with these thoughts. Somehow, along the way, my view of myself turned negative. 

I started having issues with my self-image in grade school. I attended an all white school, where I was literally the ONLY black person in the entire school (K through 6th grade)  outside of my older sister.  That is not an exaggeration. We were the only 2 black kids for awhile until I reached 5th grade and a few more trickled in.  Obviously, my hair was different from my Caucasian classmates, and some of them made fun of my hair..  My hair was a lot shorter than theirs and I wore relaxers that over time broke off my hair. I was called "Sha-Bald-A" can be cruel.

For middle school, our elementary school and the neighboring school combined to form the middle school student body.  In middle school I met some more African-American students. However, they didn't like me. They thought I acted white.  I would wear my relaxed hair in ponytails and they would snicker behind me in class and say "she wears her hair like a white girl."  The black girls at my church also made fun of my sister and I because we didn't talk, dress, or act like them.  I started to resent black girls.  I started hating the fact that I didn't have long hair, and I started wearing weaves and braids to simulate long hair. I never wanted to be out with my natural hair. I didn't like it...I didn't feel pretty with MY OWN hair.  However, wearing weaves in an majority white school, led to white kids calling me "Sha-Weave-A"...couldn't win.

All of this may sound like I had a traumatizing childhood, but I didn't. I had a ton of friends, who obviously didn't call me names, who I love and still stay in touch with today. Over time I was distanced from the troublemakers, the name callers and less than savory students because of my academic ability. I started taking honors and AP classes in which those students were not.  I was in band, choir, winter guard, a cheerleader and even voted into the first round of Homecoming Queen contestants by my classmates.  I graduated 3rd in my class and was accepted into a prestigious university and received my B.S. Degree in Chemical Engineering. I say this, not to brag, but to show that even at an early age, people tried to bring me down  but they couldn't stop me from achieving my goals.  

I didn't really date that much in high school, but Senior Year I had a boyfriend that was older than me. After we broke up, the validation from men issues begin. I've had more boy drama than I care to think about. I've been cheated on, lied to, etc. All of these issues begin to weigh on my self-esteem. Why did he cheat? Was I not good enough? Pretty enough? Skinny enough? How can I compete with the plethora of pretty women out in the world to find a man that will stay true to me? Every rejection, every break-up wore me down little by little.  I started needing to validate my beauty and self-worth by men being interested in me.  I would get pissed when guys I was interested in choose my friends over me. I would get mad at my friends (like it was somehow their fault that Joe Schmo chose them) and lash out and stop hanging out with them.  I write this in past tense, but these are still feelings I'm experiencing today at age 33. Also not helping was a bad relationship I had last Summer that brought back all those terrible feelings of not being good enough, or pretty enough.

Today, I have a boyfriend, but I sometimes find myself asking him, if he's still into me? I wonder if he'll leave me for a skinnier, prettier girl one day.  I provided my mentor with these feelings and backstories and that's when he was asked me if I thought I was pretty... I said "No, not in my natural state". He then challenged me to do this blog post sharing my natural look with no filters, no makeup and no wigs. He said, "Until Shalanda learns to love Shalanda, then it will be hard for others to love Shalanda." and that "I need to find self-love from within and not from other people." Even if a guy does leave me, or cheat, it should no way affect how I feel about myself. It's their loss and has no reflection on my self-worth.

This is clearly easier said than done. As I look at these images of myself, I see an "Okay" looking girl with crazy hair that she still doesn't know how to style at the age of 33. Obviously, my hair has grown a ton since elementary school, but I still don't know what to do with it. Heaven forbid, I put it in a ponytail (Ha.)! But for real, I mostly wear my natural hair in pigtails, or a puff bun...nothing exciting. I think if I knew how to style my hair, I would love my natural state more.  Right now, it's so much easier to braid this up and wear a wig. I don't think there's anything wrong with wearing wigs or other types of hair extensions, as long as you still value your natural look. That's the place where I would love to get to. I would love to look at these pictures and think "you're beautiful just the way you are, and anything extra is just an enhancement of your god-given natural beauty." I hope through my relationship with my new mentor that I can achieve this goal.  If self-love was easy, low self-esteem wouldn't exist. 

My hair isn't the only issue that weighs on pun intended but my weight has been a big cause of low self-esteem as well. I've been up and down with my weight my entire life.  Right now I'm on the bigger side of my I don't feel pretty or attractive at plus-size.  I need to embrace my size and love myself, but again...easier said than done. Many people will say, "Well, if you don't like your size than do something about it! Change it, loose weight." Also easier said than done.  I'm currently in a biggest loser competition at my job, and being surrounded by other people who are also trying to loose weight has helped tremendously.  But again, I need to be able to look at myself in the mirror at ANY size and say, "You are enough. You are fine just the way you are." I am hopeful that I can reach these higher levels of positive self-imagery, esteem and confidence. 

Do you suffer from low self-esteem issues? If so, what things are you doing to overcome these issue? Let me know in the comments or on social media! You can also email me as well if you would like to have a private conversation. 

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  1. I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts. I grew up in a similar fashion - too different from white kids and not black enough for the black kids. It really haunted me, and it wasn’t until I met my husband and started going to therapy that I was able to get at the root of it all and start to affirm that I was enough. It’s always going to be work for me, but just saying it out loud on the good and bad days helps to keep going. I’m so glad you posted this. You are so radiant and beautiful, and I love following your stuff. Thank you for sharing this with us all, no matter how hard.

  2. Shas, the exciting part of this all is that you recognize there is self-worth to be reached and fought for. We all learn a long the way but once you've reached it and love your self whole heartedly then you'll b able to do anything while rocking whatever style and weight you want to rock because at the end of the day, you know that you are enough. I grew up with insecurities also. I tried to hide my body with oversized jackets and pants, sometimes I still do it now! We have stories that we can share all day long and the good thing too I am able to share things more vocally so if you ever need a talk or whatever I got you! Love ya! Leen Bean!

  3. I think that this was brave and humbling of you to put yourself out there. As a result many people will be touched by this. Honestly I think your a pretty girl. Your color and skin are pure beauty. Your hair looks very healthy. Many people look like they just woke up from a 10 week sleep without makeup. But you don’t. I’m not just saying this. GOD bless you for inspiring many people to see that it’s ok to have insecurities, recognize them, and work towards confidence. We are all insecure about something nomatter what anyone tells us. But being honest with ourselves is important and you were! I pray that soon we will all look in the mirror and see that we are beautiful regardless of how we think we look.

  4. Shas, the first thing I thought when I saw this post was “Oooh, I love her hair like that!” So I hope that tells you something. :) You’re brave for letting that all out. I’ve struggled with appearance issues my whole life but I somehow I manage to care less the older I get. Except for the gray hairs...I hate those things, ugh. So I guess I’m not completely cured...but I think we’re all works in progress.


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