THIS IS A STORY OF HOW I OVERCAME SELF-DOUBT.
In honor of Bell Let's Talk, I am sharing a personal post about my struggles with self-esteem and my triumphs (or I should say 'on-going progress') of overcoming self-doubt. Although I wouldn't say I suffer from a defined mental illness, I can certainly relate to the roller coaster that comes along with having low self-esteem. It's an on going battle where I find myself doubting if I'm good enough, but I've spent many years figuring what makes me feel better and I'm happy to share.
A bit of back story: I grew up with some abuse in my life starting at a very early age which affected my self esteem throughout the rest of my life. All throughout school I was very shy, always nervous to speak up. I stayed with a small group of friends and didn't do a ton of socializing. I was timid, quiet and to most people, was probably seen as a fragile or even weak. Only those who knew me very well, saw that I was actually quite a bubbly and fun-loving person. I truly believe I denied myself quite a lot of experiences in my adolescence simply because I was too shy to step outside my comfort level. Crippled by the fear of rejection, and too worried about what other people would think of me, I stayed in a shell for a very long time.
Not until my early 20s did I start to make big changes - specifically in the last 2 years of my life. I've always wanted to be more outgoing, presenting myself as a young woman who is confident and self-assured. I had to learn that I can't be truly confident in myself if I'm taking even the smallest bit of criticism to heart. I had to choose to begin seeing negative criticism as learning opportunities rather than running away from confrontation to curl up in a ball and cry because my feelings got hurt. It's only really just been a year that I have found the courage to become more of a self-driven artist and do my work the way I want to do it without compromise. I'm starting to see the massive benefits of staying true to myself.
I suppose the majority of finding this strength comes with life experiences, as does any life lesson. It's learning from my mistakes, choosing to persevere, staying positive and being focused on my goals that have helped me mentally stay on track. Here are a few other things that I believe help contribute to a more confident me:
- First of all, I married an extrovert. My husband has always been well-known, in high school especially, as someone who is out-going and downright hilarious. Brendan has been raised by amazing parents who have taught him great work ethic and overall, he's become a confident, hard-working man who is amazing in every way. I still don't know how I got so lucky.
- My kids. Although, I would say this has been (and will continue to be) the role in my life where I feel as though I constantly fail the most, I've come to learn that failure leads to opportunity for improvement and growth. Parenting is hard. Being a mother has been my biggest challenge and it's constantly changing me. In a lot of ways it makes me a stronger person. And there are also the tear-filled days that leave me feeling as though I haven't been good enough. But if there's one thing I've learned, its that there's no better way to learn how to improve than by failing first. My only hope is I fail early and learn quickly to raise my son and daughter into strong, self-assured and independent individuals.
- Beauty regimes! Getting out of my pajamas is where I start when feeling a little down. Although sweat pants are a guilty pleasure (they are hella comfy!), I do feel more productive when I've washed my face and throw on a little makeup. If I ever need a boost of confidence, I'm sure to invest some time in looking good. When I look good, I feel good.
- But first, coffee. I can't start my day without coffee.
- I feel better about myself when I stay busy. For nearly my entire life, I've lived a sedentary lifestyle. You could describe me as a lazy procrastinator. Sitting in front of the TV for hours, letting the chores build up, it just wasn't healthy. This years resolution is to watch less TV, and engage myself more in healthy habits, as well as connecting more with people and building relationships. To accomplish these goals, I've taken on two additional jobs - at Cold Lake Brewing and Distilling Co. where I sell locally brewed beer (which I LOVE), and handcrafted spirits (which I also love!). It is Cold Lake's first and only micro-brewery where all products are made with as many local and homegrown ingredients as possible. I love this job the most because it supports local business and lets me meet tons of fantastic people! Plus the owners are pretty great too! And as of Monday, I just started at Renu Salon and Spa as a receptionist and beauty consultant. This job is so perfect because I get to be a part of something bigger than myself that celebrates women and all things beauty related. So with being a wife and mother of two, with my own photography business and now TWO part time jobs, I have no excuse to let myself get lazy. I have eliminated the option to sit on my butt all day. It will be a juggling act at first I'm sure, but I LOVE my part time jobs and the people I get to work with and meet! It sounds like a lot, but strategically, my hours don't conflict with my photography so I can still devote just as much dedication and passion as I always have to photographing all you beautiful people!!
- I also keep myself busy by taking up piano and guitar. And I've set a goal for myself to read at least 1 book a month. So far, I'm onto my second book for the month of January. I'm ahead of schedule!
- I also like to do things that are slightly out of my comfort level. For example, by getting in front of a camera for a change and having fun with some sassy photos is a great way to force myself away from being shy and find that side of me that is bold and fearless. Seeing myself in those photos remind me how far I've come from the girl who would never speak in class to now the woman who is in control of her life. It's fun and it's a challenge for me. Then there's the awesome bonus of all you amazing people who give me positive feedback and make me feel like a million bucks!
- And of course, the BEST way to build self-esteem is by encouraging and supporting others. I've learned to reach out to people I am inspired by, even if I don't know them. I know that I enjoy random encouraging comments, so why not pay it forward and support those in the community and worldwide? Everyone could use a little more love!
So if you've stuck with me and read this entire blog, thank you. You're amazing and I like you.
Courtney Gallery Photography (for those kickass portraits)
Kandise Brown Photographer (whose talent beautifully captured my wedding day)