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The self-esteem melting pot: learning how to maintain your self-esteem in post-secondary

Drawing of a woman

It’s so easy to pay other people compliments and cheer them on when they do something well. Being supportive of each other’s accomplishments is something that’s generally encouraged, but one thing that’s probably not given enough credit is how necessary it is to pay yourself those very same compliments.

At the core of paying yourself compliments is affirming who you are as an individual and how much you matter. It can be as simple as looking in the mirror and giving yourself positive affirmations about what you know you are good at or being easier on yourself when things don’t go as you planned. If there’s anything you should never run out of it’s compliments for yourself! It boosts your self-esteem when you take the time to acknowledge what you’re good at. You walk out into the world knowing what you can bring to the table to offer, not just for group projects in school, but maybe even when you work in your chosen profession.

Having good self-esteem also centres around your ability to recognize your efforts without comparing it to what people around you are doing. A little friendly competition is fine, but it often results in comparing yourself with others. Being unhappy with who you are takes a severe toll on your mental health. It certainly helps to take away or monitor stimuli in the environment that enable that toxic behaviour. For one person, this could mean limiting the amount of time they spend scrolling through social media seeing other people’s “fabulous lives” and for another person that could mean distancing yourself from people that like to compare marks and answers just so they can tell you what you did wrong. The real work to curb you from comparing yourself to others really happens internally, when you choose to look at you and your accomplishments. The only competition you need is yourself and understanding this takes off the burden that comes with comparing yourself to others.

You don’t have to ignore everyone around you, but you should reflect on the efforts that have made you the person you are today. Take time out to think about your accomplishments, maybe by writing down one thing a day that you’re proud of achieving.

If you feel there are some adjustments that need to be made to grow in your professional, personal, or social circles, it’s better to look at the steps you took that led you to your current moment. Reflecting on your own actions and decisions tends to take back the focus you would have used to compare yourself to someone else and makes you zero in on what you have been doing.  When you take the time to acknowledge those steps, you are less likely to feel inclined to compare yourself to other people because you see the things that made your journey unique and worthwhile. 

As we study online, it’s important to take the things you see on social media with a grain of salt. This digital interaction can exacerbate the rate at which people can compare themselves to each other because they feel connected and involved in other people’s lives through a phone screen. Remember that you don’t know what they had to do behind the scenes to achieve whatever is in that post. You don’t see the challenges they go through.

Staying in your lane is crucial. If you don’t, you may become dependent on other people for validation.

You don’t stand to gain much from comparing yourself to your classmates and friends, but seeing your own worth can shed off some anxiety and doubt that you have about how you add to value to the people around you.

Let’s remember to be kind to ourselves and take note of our own efforts. Stop picking at your faults and start acknowledging the accomplishments you’re making. Next time you feel like criticizing yourself, stop; don’t even go there. Take a moment and acknowledge what you did right. Compliment yourself, you deserve it.