by Dennis Townsend, Contributing Writer
Angel is 16 years old and she gravitates to the beat of a different drummer. She likes Roy Harper comics, reading the Hobbit, and choreographing dance moves to Korean music. She lives in the world of panda bear tattoos and rainbow colored hair. She is truly unique but more than that, she's family, my niece's daughter, and all she is is what we love about her. Her life at this stage should be a never ending song of happiness yet she has had to overcome bouts of low self-esteem due to being bullied just for being who she is. Low self-esteem is just one of the by-products of being bullied and if there’s two things that’s known about self-esteem is that there’s nothing innate or God-given about it and that it's something that must be dealt with along life’s way. Those who are unique like Angel are often a target of others who's own lives are dismal so they are opposed to change in the status quo. Sometimes the changes that they see are a direct result of a bullied person who decided that their self image needed improvement in order to belong in a society that’s forever unforgiving. How ironic. When a person is bullied, their lives and their happiness becomes restricted and it often leads to fundamental feelings of inadequacy which in turn leads to other problems such as overeating, alcoholism, and depression. In women, low self-esteem is viewed as an epidemic that causes them to make unwise life choices such as marrying unworthy men, making bad career decisions, and going from substance abuse to tolerating being abused. Some believe that women are more vulnerable to the symptoms of low self-esteem because the world as a whole is seen as a male dominated society.
It’s hard to have self-esteem when society as a group, is constantly defining you, and in your eyes, you see yourself as not good enough. You acquire all the symptoms of the dreaded “if only” syndrome. You begin to think, "if only I was prettier or smarter or had a better body". We all have been programmed to believe that we must meet a certain criteria as far as our appearance. goes. The desire to be thin has women starving themselves. That sends out the wrong message and starts some women on a never-ending perpetual journey trying to “fix” themselves to gain societies approval. You weren’t born with low self-esteem, it either came from parents who told you that you were worthless, or the sad fact that you never got picked to join the “in” crowd because you chose to color your hair red. How does one change those “worthless me” messages? Sometimes it requires counseling and or a support group. It will also require the best weapons of all, family and friends. Angel has her good days and her bad days, and when she feels overwhelmed, she reaches out to family and friends and we are all there to keep her spirits up. You must take the time to identify the good points you have and don’t put so much emphasis on the bad points. The greatest victory in life is the ability to live with yourself and to accept your shortcomings. You may be a long way from where you want to be, but if you really take a good look at yourself, you may realize that you’re not so bad after all.
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