How Does Your Self-Esteem in High School Affect you Later?

Recently I was  interviewed by a 16-year-old girl for a teen blog on the topic of self-esteem.  Below is part of that interview.

How can a girl be a good friend to her peers who seem to have personal struggles?

Having a close friend, a “best friend” or a group of friends that you can talk to openly is incredibly important for every girl. Sometimes there are things you just want to talk to a friend about.  If a peer is dealing with a struggle and she comes to you/confides in you, that’s very important. It means that she feels safe with you and trust you as a friend. First and foremost, just being there to listen is always appreciated. Don’t think that you have to have all the answers.  Just talking about something that maybe you have struggled with as well helps her feel not so alone in her situation. However, if your friend is struggling with something that could be damaging to herself, you can be supportive and listen, but you may need some input or guidance from an adult. That is a lot of responsibility for you to take on and you may need to talk to someone who has more experience in that area. A few suggestions would be: You can go with her and talk to your school counselor or you could go with her and talk to a family member.  Bottom line, letting her know that you’re there for her whether you have all the answers or not is probably the most important thing.

How does a girl’s self-esteem in high school affect what happens to her later on?

The high school years are a critical time in a teen’s life. This is the time that developmental psychologists call “identity vs. role confusion.” Which just means, you are trying to figure out what you like , independent of your friends and family, and you are trying to decide who you want to become.  So much is going on with a girl at this age mentally, physically and emotionally. Being comfortable with who you are is key.  Having a positive relationship with your parents and having a group of girlfriends who you can trust is also important.  If issues or challenges aren’t worked out during this phase in your life, chances are a girl will continue to deal with the same issues and struggles into college. Don’t keep things inside. Tell others how you feel. The #1 mistake I see from teens is not telling their parents when they are dealing with a big issue. Trust me, if you are dealing with something that you see as a struggle, your parents want to know about it and want to help you.

A Mother’s Effect On Her Daughter’s Self-Esteem

Here is an excerpt from a piece I submitted to a 

“Mothers need to be deeply aware of what they convey to their daughters through the attitudes they model about their own relationship to their bodies, their self-talk about how they look or “ought to” look, and how secure they seem in their choices. When a mother is battling low self-esteem or not even battling because she’s unaware it’s a root cause of frustration within her life, her daughter is likely to carry this burden as well. If a woman has spent her lifetime locked in a cycle of dieting, hatred of her own body and carries a sense of inadequacy, her daughter will understand that that is an acceptable way to consider oneself, although it’s not. This will inhibit a girl from feeling positively about her own body and she may even come to believe that negative talk is a way to bond with her mother or that being positive about herself is a form of unacceptable bragging.”

To read more, please click here.

Not a Perfect Ten..but Close. (A Teen Story of Self-Esteem)

I am the rare eight out of 10 on a scale of self-esteem. About those missing two points… It’s a visual thing, you know? People tell me, “Oh you have such a great figure!” or, “Oh you have such long legs!” or, “Oh, you’re so skinny!” and part of me believes them. But then I get a bad case of the “yeah buts…”

So I have long legs. Yeah, but… I have hairy arms. I think I get them from my dad, and I hate them so much!  I just want to shave them or wax them or something, but my mom says I’ll just make it worse and that my arms are beautiful the way they are.

So I am skinny. Yeah, but… I am TOO skinny. While some of my classmates starve themselves, I eat to gain weight. But I have a fast metabolism and it never quite works.

So I have a nice figure. Yeah, but… I have NO boobs. The media says I should have BIG boobs. Sometimes I look at other girls and think, Why can’t mine be like that? 

The “yeah buts” keep me from a 10 out of 10.

So where do the “yeah buts” come from? The media, I guess. Think of all the beautiful celebrities: Hourglass figures. Voluminous hair (on their heads and not their arms, of course!). White teeth. Blue eyes. No wrinkles. I know these are unrealistic expectations. I KNOW that. But sometimes I still want to experience what it feels like to have people look at me and think, Wow, she’s perfect! 

Other than the visual thing, I have good self-esteem. I have no idea where it came from. My mom and brother have anger issues and my dad just kind of goes with the flow, you know? I think looking at life positively and surrounding myself with a strong support system of family and friends helps. I try to hang out with positive people too. A lot of girls I used to be friends with were always saying things like, “Oh, I don’t have a boyfriend because this or that is wrong with me,” or, “Oh, I need a boyfriend.” Every conversation. I tried to tell them they were amazing just how they were, but some of them kept complaining. I can’t hang out with them anymore. Listening to them, I started feeling bad about myself too. It was hard, you know?

I don’t just ignore someone if they need help though. Like my friend who was depressed about her weight and contemplating suicide. Oh my God. What do you do when someone tells you that?  I asked her mom and she said she was out of ideas; nothing ever helped. So I got a group of girls together to talk to my friend and make her feel better. We’re not as close anymore, but I think she’s okay now. Another time, I asked a friend why her arm was bleeding, and she said that she cut herself over her boyfriend. I told her it wasn’t worth it; he wasn’t worth it. He wasn’t worth her time. I think she actually stopped for good. It’s just so sad, you know? That a girl would do this because of a boy.

There’s what girls will do because of a boy, but then there’s what they’ll do for a boy, right? I think boys put a lot of pressure on girls sometimes. They’ll say things like, “We’ve been dating a long time now. Things are getting boring so we need to try something new.” Or, “Well, so-and-so would do it,” and then the girl starts to feel bad if they don’t do it too. Or, “That’s the way to show affection if you really love me.” One girl in my school even sexted a naked picture to her boyfriend because he asked for it. Then he showed it to the whole school. Can you imagine? THE WHOLE SCHOOL. I felt so bad for her. It was horrible, just horrible.

I’ve had my run-ins with peer pressure too, what with my great figure and nice legs and all. Like the time I was dating this guy for only two weeks, and out of nowhere, he asked me for a blow job! Can you believe it? I told him he was crazy. And, he had texted it to me! That’s just CRAZY, right? I was like, “I don’t even know you!” I broke up with him the next day.

I am seventeen. I am a senior. I am 100% Mexican. I am more artistic than scholarly. I run track and go to work. I am an eight out of 10. Yeah, but…

Yeah, but… I would really like those other two points.