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Lack of Self Esteem In Teenagers


TW - Mention of self harm

'the muse of an insecure artist can never look beautiful'

This is what happens when an imperfect society tries to create molds of perfection for its residents. This is what happens when society sows the seeds of jealousy and self hatred in young sprouts which grow up to bear fruits that poison minds further

I am pretty sure that you have felt these emotions of jealousy and self hatred when looking over your friend's paper and seeing them score more marks than you , when your parents compare you to your neighbour who bagged that high profile job and when you see that girl with the perfect everything pass you by in the school corridor. Though these emotions may seem like momentary lapses away from reality into the green sea of envy, you don't realise that this is drowning your self esteem slowly.

Physical and mental manifestations of low self esteem

Could you relate to the lines given above ? If yes , there is no need to feel alone in this situation .The most common causes of low self esteem are uninvolved /negligent parents , negative peers and body image. Other reasons may include Trauma from abusive relations ,unrealistic goals, guilt and agitation over previous bad choices and a negative thought pattern generated after being too hard on yourself. Well this might seem theoretical , but once you get know that over 53% of young girls are insecure about their weight and base their self esteem upon that . Over 75% of these girls then start coping with it by cutting, alcohol and drugs , bullying and overcompensating on social media. Over 7 out of 10 teens feel that they are not good enough. Over 38% of boys use protein supplements because they don't feel good about their thin body and don't feel strong enough , 6% use steroids. Many boys are trying to lose weight too. You will now understand that this issue needs a lot of attention. Millions and millions of people are affected by it .

To know more about it , we must understand

What is actually happening inside ?

Let's start by saying that whoever created us , made a void inside .A void which we'll learn how to fill with self love and positive thoughts and all the learnings that we have as we move forward in our life's journey. A reservoir of magical good vibes. When we are an infant, it's filled completely with feelings of adequacy (because a baby is fulfilling all the tasks it ought to like sleeping ,eating etc and is the center of attention who receives so much love and care). This void is filled with love and care from external stimuli and also internal love which it feels for itself as it has no thoughts about itself and feels quite content (babies who hate themselves are quite rare)

But when it starts growing up and it starts learning 'how to be' . Whatever is shown to it ,as a way of being is what it'll know . And in today's age of social media , the facade of perfection and societal expectations of beauty and success ought to generate feelings of insecurity and jealousy . This is how the self love portion of the filled void starts depleting .Now if external stimuli like care from parents and affection from friends also starts decreasing when the kid is subjected to neglect and unkind individuals, then the outward love quota of the filled void also diminishes. Left is a void with nothing in it , empty and broken from the inside . Having a void inside was never harmful as we knew we were going to fill something in it . But now that all the contents have left it , how do we build it back in a way that's healthy now that uncertainty and impatience have plagued the modern fast paced world?

Coping mechanisms

There are many activities that we do on a daily basis that we may not realize the purpose of until we ask the question of 'why?'. Coping mechanisms are needed but the thing that is more necessary than their application in our lives is a distinction of whether they are healthy or not. Many teens cut themselves to feel the pain , many people numb the loud echoes coming from the silences of their voids through listening to what others think of them , some people feel like alcohol and drugs can make them forget their worries for a moment and many will seek out validation from the fakest source which is social media . Waiting for likes , comments and texts . All these are just ways of filling the void or running away from it . But unfortunately , no matter how fun ,spending 8 hours a day watching reels,thanking all the 80 people in the comments who said you looked beautiful on instagram , it might sound , It is just filling your emptiness with the fruits of instant gratification . Remember anything that makes you feel whole so quickly can escape you just as quickly.

Well one more way of coping which is seeking the company of others all the time and the inability to stay alone and by yourself. This might sound cruel but all your friends make you feel a certain way about yourself,no matter how selfless your connection seems to look like . A person with a void will most likely latch onto anyone who gives them the slightest attention. Attention gives us a feeling of importance . Attention can be confused with love but it's just attachment . Attachment has a selfish connotation to it , we don't love a person that way , we just love the hormones of which they cause a release in us .

Dopamine and Serotonin.

Instant gratification is the enemy . A mirage which will have you thinking "oh i feel so good after drinking that or watching my post go viral" but will snatch that happiness from you once the dopamine drops and leave you unsatisfied almost every time. But now you might think , but this is just how the world works ,how do i regain my self esteem and confidence all by myself ,it's not like i have open and safe forests to go meditate in and find the answers by myself , there's just so much noise around me , the noise of my thoughts , my family ...of everyone .. It is so overwhelming .

Well then ,how to feel like yourself again and fill the void (if that's even possible)?


The best way to feel like yourself again is to dive deep. To find what made you feel happy before and relive that feeling . To ask yourself " am I doing this to fill myself or do I actually like it " . Allow yourself to feel bad and inadequate . You are not your thoughts , they cant control you

Journal about your emotions

Find out where your reflexes are stemming from

Doing what you like to do when no one is watching

Through slow and gradual progress you will learn to be by yourself without any external stimuli .

Unlike instant gratification ,this might actually work for the long run.

But this is just one side of the coin , there is a flip side which needs to be discussed more often .

Toxic Positivity surrounding self love

The image of someone working on themselves is often shown in the media as a peaceful sage who is meditating in solitude and is always happy . It is never shown as that college student who stresses out about her exams, works hard at her internship, still keeps her Starbucks plans with her friend as they sit together and rant about the cruelties of life and is sometimes worn out and not feeling happy yet she still finds 5 minutes to meditate or to journal . The pressure put on people to cut off human contact and the pseudo positivity on the self love journey from which you'll never look back is too much . The scope for failure is huge but feels like we let ourselves down everytime we fail to meditate for more than 10 minutes. No person can feel happy all the time , No person can feel fully content in solitude 24 /7 . These self love preachers with their "always be positive" approach often forget that humans are beings with a thousand different moods and are social beings by nature. The cut off culture is highly toxic . "Cut off people who make you feel that you're not good enough"

unless the other person is physically or emotionally abusive , it is you who makes you feel that you are not enough . Cutting off your competitors , people who you are jealous of which just gives a fragile sense of winning. What needs to be imprinted in our brains is that their win is not my loss . Cut off your need to compare yourself with someone. Learn to coexist with successful people , yet still focus on yourself and build a future for you.

Well , then how should i be a stressed out college student , a meditation connoisseur and a social being with friends .

sounds impossible !!?!!


Think about this , what will two whole humans ask from each other ? Two humans who have spent many many years working on themselves and are now brimming with self love . If they come across each other , what will they ask of each other , will they even talk to the other one since, now, they don't even feel the need to have any external influence . What will happen ?

Well , I think of human relations as a form of give and take . Think about all the people you have in your life and relationships with them . Your parents giving you food and shelter and you giving them a future with better things and making them proud . Your friend giving you advice about your relationship and you giving her fries and making spotify playlists for her :)

There must be a balance in this give and take . If the balance is lost ,that's when relations tilt towards toxicity.

So as humans , who have the privilege of being born with 7 billion other talented and amazing humans , will our voids being completely filled with self love stop us from building meaningful ,healthy and balanced relations with other humans? YES AND NO

While self love is so great , if it inches towards self obsession , it might cause complacent behaviour towards other humans . Whereas depending on other people to give us happiness and definition might cause loss in individuality

what is needed here is proper distribution and a clear set of priorities .

How to get that balance right and finally heal and feel good about ourselves ?


How about we decide to fill that void with at least 70% self love and 30%from the love we get from our parents, friends ,lovers or any other things that bring us joy. Any other percentage that fits for you ,will work too. But what's most important is that the void must be filled with self love more than other sources because you only have yourself for life, people will leave you ,you will experience withdrawal symptoms when they do so, things may break or be taken away from you but YOU HAVE YOU ,ALWAYS .

This way we will gain confidence in our abilities and finally accept who we are but still let people in , be real with our emotions , talk about how we feel and grow together with everybody . Create a small utopia for yourself and fill it with so much respect for yourself and other individuals and lead a life of no comparisons and finally feel at home in your own body .Now , you can practice these

10 practicals ways to boost self esteem :

1)be kind to others and don't wish bad on anybody else

2)start meditating for 10 minutes everyday

3)Try to work out as much as possible

4)Take a quiz on what your love language is and start treating yourself in accordance to that

5)try to take a shower everyday and practice positive affirmations in the mirror everyday

6)go and volunteer in a soup kitchen and help the needy

7) start to journal your thoughts

8) make a playlists of the songs that you loved as a kid

9)try to eat as plant based as possible

10)clean your room and use social media only for 2 hours a day or less

Written By - Ketaki Kulkarni (Intern at Just A Teen)


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