Why do we as women struggle so deeply with our own self confidence? Lately I seem to have an attuned awareness to the level of crippling self esteem issues that many of the beautiful and intelligent women in my life are facing. To look at these women, they have the world on a string: they are healthy, with husbands and children, nice houses, friends, and many other blessings, but they seem to shrink within themselves and fight daily to feel worthy of their place in this world.
This kind of low self confidence is heartbreaking to me. I remember what it feels like, and the freedom you experience when you break free of it is deeply exhilarating. It's not something you can fake. You have to work hard on yourself in order to move past the lies that are in your own head, whispering things that aren't true and trying to undermine your confidence in yourself.
I am tremendously grateful for my college suitemate in my first year of university, who dragged me, very much against my better judgement, to a group counseling session for kids with divorced parents. With all of the wisdom that comes from being eighteen, I swore up one side and down the other that the divorce of my parents when I was fifteen had zero effect on me. I was wrong. I sat with my arms folded across my chest for the first four or five sessions, refusing to participate, and only attending for the sake of my suitemate.
Eventually, the counselor gently wore me down, until I began to talk about my own experience with my parents. It was like turning a key to unlock the door to a room that was overflowing with garbage. Week by week, I took out a bag, until the smell slowly began to clear and I could function better in the world without the stench and the weight of my past dragging me down.
From there, I went on to do a year of weekly appointments with a Master's counseling student for $25 a session. I talked through everything; virtually every single aspect of my upbringing and my fears and my control issues, until there was nothing left to say and we were both staring at each other. I'll never forget the day the counselor said to me, "I think we are done here." It was one of the best moments of my life. I had faced the worst and scariest parts of my life and my personality, and come out stronger and better than ever before.
I credit those two separate counseling experiences with the rise of my self confidence. I had a lot of baggage to work through, as we all do, and sometimes we need to invest in ourselves above and beyond what our friends can do for us. Making powerful connections between how we feel and how we act is life changing. When you slowly become healthier in your emotions, you see things clearly about yourself and others, and you don't ever want to go back to the trapped way you felt before.
It's not a magic cure. It's hard work, and the willingness to look deep inside of yourself and not flinch. We are all broken and damaged, but every one of us has the possibility of redemption living within us. We just need the courage to clean out the garbage, bag by bag, until we are lighter and more organized inside. It's not an easy thing to do, but by far the most rewarding process of my life to this point.