Self Esteem so Low

Today I received a Facebook message that nearly brought me to tears. It was from an acquaintance at work I recently got much closer to who is moving to Washington for a job opportunity. On her last day she wrote all of us coworkers a card to put in our mailboxes. In my card she wrote about how I am such a positive light and how she always loved going to me if she was sad or in a bad mood because I always cheered her up.

I was honestly floored. I couldn’t believe how sweet that was. I am notorious for not being able to think of a single good thing about myself when asked.

When I was 16 I had to go through a pretty intense psychological evaluation where, after a four-hour period I was given a final survey. As part of that survey I was asked to list my favorite things about myself, and I left it blank. When the psychologist went over my results with my mother after coming to the conclusion that I was not autistic (obviously) and did not have ADHD or any other learning difficulty (again, obviously), she mentioned this question as something “concerned” her. I had no idea why we were even discussing it so I just shrugged. “I just don’t think it’s a big deal, I know I’m not that great.” Tears immediately filled my mother’s eyes as she exclaimed “You’re amazing honey!” The sudden emotion was intensely uncomfortable for me to see as my mom and I both felt and hid our emotions similarly.

Since then I have become more comfortable accepting compliments and the like. However I still don’t really believe them? I know this isn’t an uncommon issue. Now at 23 I can recognize when I’m good at something and accept recognition for that. In high school I sat second clarinet and first bass clarinet. I placed “excellent” or better in all competitions and gathered a rather large collection of medals and awards. I knew objectively I was good at music and could show and prove that. But still whenever anybody says anything good about me, as a person, I panic. I never have any idea what to say if someone talks about my heart or my positivity or how I radiate light and love and give my whole heart to whatever I do. I never know what to say when my girlfriend lists things she loves about me and my looks or abilities are nowhere on that list (although she appreciates those too).

About two months ago I went to a work going away party for one of our managers. After a few drinks a coworker mentioned how I was such a warm welcoming person and how happy she was to work with me and I nearly dissolved into tears again.

Why is this such a silly ridiculous thing? Why can I not just hear a compliment or a good thing and accept it. Why is it such a problem and such an emotional thing for me? This, unfortunately, isn’t something I think I can blame on my childhood. I remember so little of it that when I think about whether or not I was given any compliments I come up empty. But maybe that isn’t true? Maybe I just don’t remember, maybe the beautiful days are just hidden away somewhere. I hope that’s true. Maybe those things can come out in therapy.

I love to have things to blame my dad for. I genuinely do not remember a time where he sat me down and told me he was proud of me, or admired anything I did. He brought me to my rehearsals for philharmonic but never to my concerts or other performances. I did the majority of my practicing at school as to not bother him with my squawking and squealing. I never really knew if it would amount to anything, or if I would ever amount to anything.

I never knew if the good things about me would shine enough to make a difference in anybody’s life. I work so hard to be the person that other people see. I work so hard to be approachable and kind and loving. I want to radiate love and light and acceptance. Maybe according to my friend’s card I’m succeeding, but I’ll still never stop trying.  I thanked her for her card in a facebook message and she told me that my positivity was contagious and to never lose that.  I’ll try so hard, and never stop.


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