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  • Susmita

Two Parts to Self-Esteem

As I have been doing some shadow work, I have noticed that I am not as confident as I thought I was. Today I began thinking of what consists to self esteem as a whole and I came up with two parts.

The first is self respect. Self respect is more inwardly driven. I would characterize this as more defense rather than offense. Self respect is more on establishing boundaries and sticking with them. Its about avoiding people and places that no longer serve you and could potentially harm you. Its about being strong enough to walk away or stand your ground when threatened because your sense of self does not come from the external rather it is something you decide for yourself.

The second is self confidence. Self confidence is more externally driven. This is more like playing offense. It's about being able to advocate for yourself, go after what you do want, and feeling comfortable with taking up space. It's about being strong enough to make your presence known and being secure in who you are because you are comfortable with your strengths and limits meaning neither of them detract from your sense of worth.


I know some people who have a lot of self confidence but little self respect. I know a group of people who are amazing at advocating for themselves when it comes to their career and try get the highest positions possible because they know that they are up to the job. However, they won't establish boundaries or leave a job if their employer treats them horribly because of things such as status and money etc. Another example of people who have a lot of self confidence but little self respect are this group of girls I know. They are beautiful, smart, talented and they know that and they know that they can get any guy they want. But then they end up choosing a guy with too many red flags who treat them like trash and/or cheat on them but they still insist on staying.

Personally, I have discovered that I'm the opposite. I have a lot of self respect but I don't always have confidence. I have been pretty shy with anxiety for a large portion of my life, but, I have never been a push over. I can stand up for myself when needed and I don't have a history of sticking around with people and situations that could potentially be toxic. I also had a lot of friends tell me I am a good judge of character and have a good taste in men since I tend to choose guys who have it together and will treat me right. Because of this, a lot of people, including myself, have characterized me as someone who has a quiet sense of confidence an a good sense of self worth with a large dose of humility.

However, upon more inspection with shadow work, I realized that I don't have much confidence. I'm terrible at advocating for myself in opportunities. Job interviews, writing resumes, and sending in applications give me anxiety because of this notion that I have to "sell myself." This lack of confidence is often mislabeled as humility because people see my potential but don't see me gloating about them. But honestly, even with all of my qualifications and achievements, I still don't feel like I'm enough. I often feel like an impostor. A lot of this comes from my perfectionist tendencies that were drilled into my by my parents when it come to academics from preschool all the way to senior year of high school.

Another area where my lack of confidence manifests is in social situations. I see myself as this weird, socially awkward person who is not worthy of connection. I'm also pretty judgmental towards socially awkward people but that's because I don't accept myself. Even though nobody nowadays thinks I'm weird and socially awkward, I carried this label from my childhood when I was bullied and ostracized pretty badly. I'm hyper vigilant on how I carry myself and because of that I carry myself pretty well but it is at the cost of seeming authentic to some people. I also tend to isolate myself and stay quiet until I feel that I can be accepted by people. It takes me a while to really warm up to people. This is because it's easier for me to take a default rejection from myself through isolation than to take a potential rejection from other people. That way, I have more control in the situation.

In other words, even though I know I deserve the good things in life, sometimes I don't think I'm good enough.

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