I first realized that my relationship with self-esteem required repair during a recreational conversation with a female friend 11 months ago. We were talking about my work, the future of it and my role in it, and she was taken so far aback by how unsure of it all I sounded. She asked if I trusted myself; I said absolutely not. She asked if I believed that I had what it takes to earn box office success. I said no — that until this point, I had been really lucky but that I felt the fruits of my labor slowly slipping from my grip. I thought about how frequently I said things like that, how common it was for my mom or my husband to have to try to quell my interminable fear of being exposed as average but how infrequently it worked. 

I first articulated that my relationship with self-esteem required repair during a podcast interview on Sophia Amoruso’s Girlboss Radio. We were talking about fashion and she was touting my willingness to experiment with style as truly courageous. I told her my style had nothing to do with courage, that I used it as a protective shield to defend me from myself — to distract an inevitable confrontation that would ultimately make the truth known: I have no respect for myself. 

Last fall, when I was conducting research for an episode of my own podcast, Monocycle, which would feature an interview with Uber’s chief brand officer, Bozoma Saint John, I was so taken back by the confidence I heard pouring out of her prose. Here was a woman who has said in interviews, when prodded about whether she thought race played a factor in her hiring, that it didn’t matter because no one else was as qualified to do this job — that even if she had been hired because she was black, it was only a matter of time before her employer realized that no one was more qualified to do her job. Or any job she held.

How refreshing it was to hear a woman speak so highly of herself! How novel. How empowering. Though the cycle is slowly but surely coming apart, we have historically been trained to believe that it is arrogant, catty or unladylike to speak so highly of yourself as a woman. It is the antithesis of self-deprecation, which can sometimes run so deeply through us that we forget we are using this storyline the same way I use clothes: as a protective shield. At worst, we begin to believe the lukewarm things we say about ourselves.

I believe this is how it happened for me. I had always known myself to be indecisive but thought it was simply a function of liking to keep my options open. The fewer decisions I make, the more detours I can take. My dad used to call this “flexible thinking,” but as the decisions on my plate have become more important (and higher-stakes), I’ve learned that my noncommittal attitude toward decisiveness is a function of my lack of self-trust and the feeling that whatever decision I make is going to be the wrong one. I’ve always struggled with understanding and recognizing my worth. At times, it has been masked by various accolades or milestones that have validated me, but that external validation always disappears, and like any good drug, it leaves you coming back for more. You crave it, you need it, you do whatever you have to do to get it — become a martyr, a victim, an ostentatious dresser!

That’s when I realized that the past seven years have been a sprint in the pursuit of validation from anyone who will give it to me. It has allowed me to cast aside a much more systemic problem: that I never learned self-esteem, which is arguably because I never had to.

My parents were always so supportive. Of course, this is a privilege, but before I could ever really get knocked down, they jumped to my aid, showering me with superficial compliments and the sort of kindness that serves just enough purpose to delude me into thinking self-esteem is informed by what others say to and about me.

My life has been, for the most part, easy. I have suffered heartbreak in its manifold permutations and one loss that took me to the edge of sanity (this is probably when I learned that my old tricks — seeking external validation, leaning on support from anyone who is not me — don’t work). After hearing Saint John’s story, it occurred to me that her self-esteem is a genuine product of the life she has not just lived but has had to weather, the loss she’s endured and the strength she has been forced to squeeze out of it. 

I’m not sure why I am now feeling the brunt of a lack of self-esteem. Maybe it’s because I recently outed myself as risk-averse. Because I am finally willing to take a leap of faith professionally and launch something new. Because the stakes are different — there is progeny at play and I am only now beginning to understand what love feels like on a cellular level because until now, I’ve shut it out. My lack of self-esteem, for all the defense it has offered, hasn’t really let me feel it. 

But I’m ready — to trust myself, believe in myself, understand my worth for no one but myself. 

For as many times as I have attempted to articulate all of this under the various guises of self-love, self-care, self-respect, compassion and empathy, I see it now for what it is: self-esteem. And with self-esteem will come stronger self-assurance, the termination of insufferable indecisiveness, the wherewithal to just do. To make a difference. To love. To prove, like Saint John did, that I am the most qualified person to do anything — everything! — that is put on my course.

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  • I’ve been on a similar journey this past year (eating disorder recovery) and I’m discovering my self worth and learning to trust my mind and my body again. It’s been a long road, but it brings me so much peace to hear of other women – women I’ve long admired – are also walking this walk with me in their own way. More and more women discovering their worth, finding true self-esteem. Sending you all the love + light Leandra! xoxoxo, from Indiana

    • nicolechan

      Hi Blythe – also on the same road with eating disorder recovery, and learning who I am after years of suffering, but at the same time purposefully cultivating who I want to be. It sounds like you’ve found something similar on your personal journey. Just wanted to say hey! And Congrats!

      • Emily M

        Just wanted to give you both some encouragement on this front. I’ve been in recovery from an eating disorder for three years and self-worth is still what I struggle with the most. But it gets better every year that I get back from my disorder! Keep pushing, y’all.

        • Mack Nielson

          I’m in this club, too. Self-love is hard, but what’s harder is not trying at all.

          • s. marge

            I’m also traveling down the path of ED recovery and it’s so hard to have self compassion when the disorder is like a separate/negative/all-encompassing entity in your head. Keep on truckin’ you guys! We will most certainly continue to make progress and build up self esteem as long as we remain conscious consumers and loyal to our bodies.

          • Hi s. marge! The negative talk is the HARDEST PART! I’ve found that if I make an effort first thing in the morning to be “in the light” it’s much easier to stay there. I literally look myself in the mirror and say, “you are worthy. you are beautiful. you are enough.” or whatever I need to hear that day. I say it for myself and for my reflection because she was the enemy for a long time. Wishing you all the love and light on your journey!

      • Hi Nicole! I love your “purposefully cultivating who i want to be.” You articulated it so perfectly! xoxoxoxo

      • Anya Livshyts

        This thread. Ahh. Everyone here is so strong- and so inspiring. Good luck! And thank you.

  • BEP

    I wish I’d known you were going to write this! I loved that podcast so much I listed to it 3 times and wrote down every word so that I could read it over whenever I needed to (i.e. often) as I begin my own journey of gaining self-esteem. Much love and here’s to finding it x

  • Hannah Warner

    I really identify with what you’re saying, and am moved by this article. Keep fighting the good fight.

  • Maren Lindquist

    I have to say that I’ve listened to that podcast about four times. Bozoma’s poise and confidence is inspiring. I feel very similar in that I’m very risk adverse. I’m on the cusp of graduating and going into the ~real world~ and to hear someone, especially a woman, speak with such complete confidence about her own abilities and place in the corporate world is a breath of fresh air. As women we’ve been taught to act self-effacing. To never overshoot our own abilities. How do we get to the place where Bozoma is? How do we bridge that gap?

    • I listened to this episode a few weeks ago, so while I don’t remember it exactly, I think it touches on what you mention here in terms of women acting self-effacing regarding their accomplishments. Good luck with your endeavors, and I’m sure once you start achieving some of your goals you’ll gain confidence to keep going. Remember all the times you’ve done things in the past that were challenging, and go from there.


  • Wow Leandra I am blown away by this post on so many levels, first and foremost your admission to low self-esteem. I worship you and admire your amazing accomplishments while always being true to yourself and honest to your readers. I think the word authentic get bandied about too much, but in your case it applies. You’ve created a diverse and dedicated community, my 20 year old daughter admires you as much as I do. Second, that you have the self awareness to understand your deepest motivations and parse them objectively and adjust accordingly. This takes most people a lifetime of therapy. Bravo to all you have done and will do!

    • Serena

      So true I am in shock to hear she has low self esteem. Look at what she has created! A community of women (and men!) who come here to read interesting and honest articles.

  • Ciccollina

    Oh honey 🙁 It’s so sad to hear you articulate this.

    If it helps, you should know that you are objectively one of the most talented, intelligent, thoughtful and honest female voices of your generation. You’ve made such an impact on so many people. Thank you for inviting us on your journey (however accidentally) and giving us the joy of the MR community.

    I wish you the absolute best in your journey towards self-love and that brimming confidence so abundant in beautiful Bozoma.


  • Sonia

    I had the same epiphany recently: I do not trust myself. In fact, I don’t even know what trusting myself sounds like because it is so foreign to my internal dialect. So much of this is because I too look for external validation to tell me whether I am doing something wrong or right. And instead of using the wrong as a learning tool, I beat myself up for it. I hold it to a higher truth than when I’ve done something “right” or “well” because self-deprecation is simply easier to cling to. I trust it more. But I’m constantly asking myself why? Why can’t I BELIEVE and TRUST that I am capable of doing something great?

    I think part of this is because of the way our culture judges and speaks to itself. When someone is vocally confident, our first inclination is to call them cocky, self-centered, full of hubris. I’m sure it all stems from a deeply rooted insecurity/envy (what doesn’t!?), but why shouldn’t someone say they’re the most qualified person to do something? I’m the most qualified person to be ME. Shouldn’t I trust that? And in turn, shouldn’t we as a culture support and trust that each one of us is the most qualified to be exactly who we are? Why then, does it feel so exposing and dangerous to begin?

  • YT

    impostor syndrome AKA being a working woman! such an important lesson to impart on our young ones today!

  • Ana

    “her self-esteem is a genuine product of the life she has not just lived but has had to weather, the loss she’s endured and the strength she has been forced to squeeze out of it.”
    Very good point. For me, my self-esteem has always grown ‘despite of’ not ‘because of’ something. I think that’s why external validation doesn’t work; instead of relying on external forces to lift you up, you need to master the very hard task of building yourself up. Trusting in yourself sadly also means risking to fall flat on your face, a lot and often.

  • Jay

    It’s unreal how relatable this is. I’ve always been known as the indecisive friend and even had a nickname for it. It’s like I can see all possible outcomes of a decision so I get overwhelmed and don’t trust myself to make the right one. And like you, I use style as a way to shield myself from confronting the realities of my lack of self esteem. I buy new clothes, change my hair constantly, and keep up with trends in the hopes that doing so won’t make me feel so empty. As I get older I’m realizing that in order to have true self esteem I will need to achieve validation from within – rather than seeking it from others.

    Best wishes as you embark on this journey of self-love! And if you’re open to keeping us posted I’m sure it would be helpful for other readers.

  • Erin Khandjian

    This is an amazing piece

  • xtyb

    I know that having self-esteem is not always affected by being highly esteemed, but you absolutely are.

    You have created the most amazing place of really being new and free and authentic for those of us who just don’t fit in, and nobody else could have done it with such joy and style, no woman on earth is more qualified than you. You are our esteemed man repelling inspiration, thank you forever.

  • Brooke W

    Leandra, I am so grateful you bring your audience (me) with you through all these challenges and changes. It’s so refreshing and important. I’ve been reading manrepeller since 2012, and you have provided such a voice and sounding board to growing as woman. And I am so happy that the pieces you share today are in no way like the pieces I read when I was 18, hanging in the student union between classes. I’m guessing they’re more difficult to dissect and articulate, but just know that your audience understands and is so grateful that you are putting words to the complicated growth that comes with….life. Thank you!

  • Alexa M

    Your paragraph about indecision really hit home. I’ve been struggling to make myself commit to some important decisions – initially I assumed it was because I’ve always been pretty indecisive, but I’ve realised recently that it’s because when I imagine the consequences of each choice, I imagine the worst rather than trusting my ability to make the best of each situation. I never thought of myself as someone with particularly low self-esteem, but I’ve realised that I have very little faith in myself to be successful and happy no matter what path I choose, and it means that committing to big decisions can be almost paralysing.

    Thanks for this piece Leandra!

    • Victoria

      I loved your response Alexa. Beautifully written and it hit home for me.

    • I feel exactly the same Alexa! I find it so hard to find my gut instinct in amongst all the anxiety I feel around big decisions. But it’s totally that feeling of not trusting yourself that’s at the bottom of it all.x

  • I am practically in tears reading this it’s resonating so deeply. Last month I was chatting with a friend about New Year’s resolutions; I told her I wasn’t really setting many, but that one intention I had for the year was to work on self-love, essentially to not be an asshole to myself. I could tell by her face that she didn’t *really* know what I meant, had never quite experienced the lack of self-esteem so familiar to me it just feels like breathing at this point.

    “I’ve learned that my noncommittal attitude toward decisiveness is a function of my lack of self-trust and the feeling that whatever decision I make is going to be the wrong one.” This line, that whole paragraph, especially, hit the nail on the head for me.

    I’m glad you’re turning a corner on that ever-elusive, seemingly endless journey for self-esteem. I’m glad you were willing to share this with all of us, too.

  • amelie

    Very relatable. One of my study coaches always used to say that I was being falsely modest. Truth is that I just lack self-esteem and don’t really know how to speak highly of myself. Although we have a long way to go, recognising the problem is the first step I guess.

    Also reminds me of this (especially the ‘asking for a raise’ bit): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2_79T1P2qo

  • Kattigans

    This was beautiful. Leandra, its insane how well your words, every time you put out a piece especially your personal writings, can so eloquently capture the feelings that I’ve felt many times. With the whole Me Too, coupled with the tumultous times we live in as being a woman, I more recently have been thinking about taking the route of how Saint John speaks about herself. Its so easy as a women, and forgive me for saying this, but to whine about the setback and the heartbreak that comes with it. I know there are systemic problems and insititutions that need to be broken and I am all for it happening but I am also for women taking ownership of the work they do and the good ass work they do. Humility is important, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned after working in the tech world for 4 year (start ups and corporations alike) is that no one can be your cheerleader if you aren’t your own cheerleader first. I was always so modest about my accomplishments and capabilities. I wouldn’t dare bring attention to the good work I was doing bc I thought my boss and the people around me would see and just know. That doesn’t always happen and its a common mistake a lot of us make – shrinking in the background with the hope someone else sees us and knows our truth. No, we have to be the change makers of our paths. So now, I tell my boss when I’ve accomplished something I’m proud of, I’ve learned that being proud of myself and my life is not only important, but necessary. And I feel better for it. You should too – praise yourself and also have the courage to know when you’ve fucked up. Allow yourself to be congratulated and proud of the amazing work you’ve done and the gift you’ve maybe unknowingly given so many of us who are longtime fans and readers.

  • Kari

    It’s amazing that you are able to articulate the most honest feelings that so many of us have. Thank you for sharing this, as always I am moved and feel less alone from reading your wonderful words.

  • Maria

    Reading this section might be the most I’ve ever truly related to written words: “Because the stakes are different — there is progeny at play and I am only now beginning to understand what love feels like on a cellular level because until now, I’ve shut it out. My lack of self-esteem, for all the defense it has offered, hasn’t really let me feel it.” Having my child changed things on a cellular level; it changed my brain, changed my self-esteem, changed my willingness to give more weight to what other people say than to what I know/feel/think/might believe. Changed me for the better, no question. Thank you so much for writing this.

  • Emily M

    g o o s e b u m p s
    all the way through.

  • Cynthia Schoonover

    Excellent piece! I learned that self-esteem or self-confidence comes from within; no one can give it to you. I give myself little pep talks: You can do this. You will make it.

  • Lily

    Thank you so much for articulating this, Leandra. I’ve been struggling with learning almost these exact same things about myself, and I am grateful for your beautiful words and your willingness to share this raw wisdom. You put perfectly the thoughts and feelings that were struggling to congeal in my brain!

  • ken

    Comforting reminder when I’m having trouble trusting myself and making a decision…
    “If you obsess over whether you are making the right decision, you are basically assuming that the universe will reward you for one thing and punish you for another. The universe has no fixed agenda. Once you make any decision, it works around that decision. There is no right or wrong, only a series of possibilities that shift with each thought, feeling, and action that you experience.” – Deepak Chopra

    • I love this! Thank you for sharing those words.x

    • MM

      I can’t get on board with this quote. It’s not about reward-punishment. It’s about not knowing yourself sufficiently to make a choice of happiness. Along the same lines, it’s about letting bullshit/external/superficial factors impact your decision-making process because you haven’t learned to shake that noise off and listen to yourself. Sure, the universe may work around your decision. But i’m more concerned about how I am going to work around my decision. I’ve made plenty of wrong decisions. They definitely exist. When do I get to stop “just dealing” with the consequences of my decisions and find the skills to choose happiness, as fucking corny as that sounds?

      maybe I’m missing the point of the quote?

  • Allie

    Totally moved by this article. The other day I was watching The Bachelor and the vanilla lead said he thought his brunette, wide eyed contestant was “too smart for him.” And I thought to myself, I’ve never thought that about anyone. That they were too smart for me to date, befriend, talk to… I’ve been intimidated, of course, but never felt like it was something I couldn’t overcome. Then I said it out loud to my boyfriend who was watching with me. He simply replied “I know.” He didn’t mean anything by it, but my instinct was offended. And after reading this I’m realizing it’s because his comment implied my self confidence is apparent to the outside world. Which somehow felt wrong, for me specifically as a woman to be seen that way. And I put that on myself. Which is even worse. But anyways, as always, great article. Thank you for sharing.

  • Laurel Byrnes

    love u

  • Lauren

    Love this. Thank your for sharing and being vulnerable. I can relate to this very acutely, but have unfortunately been aware of my low self esteem for way too long without tackling it head on – or even understanding the root causes. This really helped me gain some relatable perspective. <3

  • Inna Raykhman

    As someone who has twins (b/g) i have to tell u that twins act as the ultimately litmus test, everything that needs to be dealt with inside of you, will have no option but to come out. my kids are 4.5 and the last 4.5 years have essentially been a tough but education and beautiful journey of facing myself by myself ) i am not writing this to scare u. i am writing to let u know that u r on the right path, and its’ great that u r thinking about this now.

  • I’ve struggled with low self-esteem for many years, however I found a lot of inspiration from my sister who has never for a minute doubted herself. She always inspires me to be strong and all of her focus, confidence and determination have gotten her to be the lauded scientist that she is! Like you, I found it helps me to have a role model when overcoming these tendencies, so I’d just think “what would my sister do,” and do that. After a while it becomes second nature.

    Eva | http://www.shessobright.com

  • Rosemary

    Bravo. Bravo. I don’t have anything nearly eloquent enough to say about this at the moment but wow, it rocked me to the core. Thank you.

  • betterweather

    What a wonderful piece! Bravo! I take away several things to consider about my own life and choices, which I appreciate. But mostly I love that this post hits upon the very issues women in particular are dealing with in the world at the moment, and for good reasons. It’s a man’s world, and girls are taught and treated differently from boys in most (all?) cultures. I feel this makes a huge difference in how we feel about and treat ourselves. Our selves.

    This post needs to go viral so that more girls and women have this lightbulb moment, whether large or small, and start seeing the world through the eyes of a person with the power to shape their own lives by trusting themselves; and to do it for themselves, no one else. I think that’s key, and I take that to heart in my own life. I never cared what others thought of my choices and decisions, so I thought I was doing it right. But I have not taken the risks in some ways that would nurture me, help me to grow, make me happy. I take this into the weekend and begin to alter my path.

    Thank you so much, Leandra.

  • Priyanka Raveendran

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this. This post resonates and strikes a chord with so many moments in my life. We’re constantly trying to look for inspiration around us in trying to be someone else. Leandra, I loved your Monocycle interview with Bozoma & it kept me thinking for a very long time – what would it feel like if I had that sort of confidence to think that ” I am enough” & “I love myself the way I am”. What could I achieve with that sort of zest for being alive?. But then I come up with a million reasons why I’m not enough. Of course, we continue to seek external validation and support from anyone who offers it, but I guess the magic only really works when we recognize & embrace it, chant it like a 100 times everyday – “I am enough”. It is truly inspiring to know that you continue to learn through obstacles and walk through the path of self discovery & to be able to share this out with so many of us, Leandra – Thank you !
    Love & Light

  • Serena

    this post is honestly shocking to read. You are so successful and accomplished. I often debate who is going to take over big publications and you and batgio always get mentioned in the conversations. It’s refreshing to hear you have self doubt. We all do. I am considered very confident and intimidating but I have tons of question marks in my head (and in my heart). Let me give you an I requested piece of advice. Trust the path you are on. Especially now that you are about to become a mom. You will get tons of feedback comments and unwanted advice (like this). Learn to trust your instincts and your doctors. Learn that you are enough to mother your children. You are going to be successful in that too. Don’t let the noise distract you from your path. Trust yourself and all the rest will fall into place. And to all the naysayers that can kiss your… you know what! If you ever question yourself again and you need somebody who believes in you even if I don’t know you… come find me. You are doing great!

  • Rosie

    I wasn’t prepared for this at 9:00am on Saturday! (GMT) This has really got me thinking, about similar validation behaviours I have, and how I feel about myself.

    I often secretly think that I am really clever, and good at things and right (probably too often). But why do these things have to be secret?? Why should I be ashamed or embarassed to feel or think these things?

    I think it’s going to take me a while to unpick that.

  • Jessica

    What you speak of, Leandra, is unfortunately common with women. I want to say it’s officially called imposter syndrome, but I might be wrong. So many amazingly talented women I know, suffer from this, myself included. I have a PhD, always had top marks, published in top journals, and was regularly praised for my work in grad school, and yet I always felt like at any moment everyone would figure out the truth that I was a fraud and didn’t know shit. I’m now in my 30s and on my next job after academia, where I’ve consistently proven myself capable and only now, with age and experience, am I finally feeling confident to say I deserve my success. I don’t know why men don’t seem to struggle with this, we must do a better job of instilling confidence in boys at a young age than girls.

  • Robin

    “I’ve learned that my noncommittal attitude toward decisiveness is a function of my lack of self-trust and the feeling that whatever decision I make is going to be the wrong one”
    I can totally relate BUT let me just say, your decision to keep writing has always been a good one. 🙂
    And you have been a source of inspiration for so many for years!!! Put that in your back pocket when you need it!

  • Silvia H. Maresca

    “My life has been, for the most part, easy. I have suffered heartbreak in its manifold permutations and one loss that took me to the edge of sanity (this is probably when I learned that my old tricks — seeking external validation, leaning on support from anyone who is not me — don’t work).”

    Leandra, thank you for this. This whole piece of yours had me feeling as if someone had finally put into words something I have always felt deep down but have never understood completely, nor have been really ready to deal with. I know the point of self-esteem is to find that within yourself, but it is inspiring to see others being honest about their own experience with it, how hard it is to even understand what it takes to have self-esteem, and still be willing to improve themselves, to believe in one’s own worth.

  • Jay

    Hey @Leandra: Just blogged about this myself. (Upcoming, happy to share…) As this is really an issue. I never really considered it one, though. But then the first time I walked into my new therapists office… she was like: „well, let’s come clear here… all those isssues you apparently have, they all boil down to just one thing: you dont take yourself seriously, you don‘t give yourself any credits at all, you belittle yourself. And doing so, you accept that others do exactly that“

    And she is right.

    I guess.

    Though I am working on the consequences to draw from that… and it is really hard.

    Standing up for yourself is no fun.


    Good one, and I love the Joan Didion Quote

  • Marina Corrêa de Moraes

    Wow. Ok, I’ll go piece by piece.

    First of all, every saturday afternoon I take some hours to read all the posts launched through the week. It’s one of my most precious me time – the reading time – bouncing between readings before bed and Man Reppeler’s posts on the weekend. I don’t usually do much of self-care anything, I’m always on work mode and it feels like heaven when I treat myself with a cup of coffee, vegan treats and some reading. You all know what I mean.

    Then here I am, all set up, doing my thing and I read this post.

    Leandra, I am so sorry, but you can’t just figure ME out and that’s it. You know that scene from cliché movies where boy meets girl, drinks are happening, it’s the best feeling ever, she thinks he knows her deeply and for the first time in a long time she believes in something, and then they ride home and have amazing sex and he leaves in the morning and never calls her back?? (so many commas, I don’t even think that’s allowed).

    Well, you’re the boy in this situation!!! That’s how I am feeling now. You’ve done all the work for me, figuring out my personal thoughts, showing me possibilities and reflections I hadn’t got the guts to do it. And I’m here broken in pieces with reality right in front of my eyes because now that I know, I am different.

    And as in cliché movies, I am not angry with you, I am happy you taught me something about myself. Even tho I am feeling soooo exposed, I am thankful (cause you know, you don’t run Man Reppeler just for me so I get it).

    See you next time. You are amazing.

  • Asiah

    Wow, I’m going through this right now attempting to launch a food-related blog. It took big cahones just to ask people a question in the name of content creation. I am in the “fraud” phase, if you will, where I feel like a poser because I know I have a lot to learn, and I don’t feel how the world might see me but I’m starting this journey anyway and just anticipating the highs and lows.

  • stinevincent

    Thank you so much for this thoughtful and vulnerable essay. It’s so easy to self-deprecate, and it’s also so easy to pretend that that’s best for us. Humility is a virtue, and Pride a sin, after all. But self-esteem is something that should never feel sinful. I’ve been wrestling myself with poor self-esteem and an anxiety I didn’t realize I had. I am an extrovert, and I am pretty good at putting up a happy front, or finding things/people/activities to energize me. But I struggle to believe in myself professionally, even though I have very good self-esteem in other aspects of myself. The other thing about it is it’s not just about epiphanies, or expressing it, and I think your words here demonstrate that, as well. It’s different to realize than to voice it, and it’s different, later, to do something about it. The doing, the working, the building of self-esteem is painstaking and slow, and must start small. I wish us both luck with it, and I am grateful to hear others put voice to it.

    I would also just like to note, the book Taming Your Gremlin has some very nice practical tips on struggles like these.

  • Ana Beatriz Quinto

    What a touching article, Leandra! I’ve been battling too with self esteem for a few years now. Or, if I’m being honest, maybe my whole life. I feel like loving yourself and taking care of your body and mind is not so easy as it seems. Therapy has really helped me, but trusting who I am is a daily challenge. A few things that happened to me lead me to feel like loving myself was really hard. Even tho I’m almost 20 now, the bullying that I suffered when I was 8 years old still has left some bruises in me, but I learned, day by day, to let it go. And that what happens to us, doesn’t define who we are. We do. <3

  • Juliana Salazar

    <3 !! You are brilliant FYI

  • Kate Wamsley

    beautiful and brave share. as a person amidst building experience in my career, i definitely recognize myself in these words. thank you.

  • Hannah ハナ

    Great article, the way you’ve articulated this is fantastic and so relateable. These last few years I’ve really gained a lot of body positivity, and I’m finally at a point where I’m happy with how I look and present. I like to try and put on an act of a “confidence, twenty-something, kick-ass woman who won’t take shit from men.” … but tbh reading your article made me realize how much insecurities I still DO have. I’m crippled by them. I’m
    very indecisive too, both in and outside of work. I’m terrified of making the wrong mistake/letting others down, I don’t trust that I’m smart enough, creative enough or good enough to do a job well. I really wish I could be someone that had faith in their job, in their ideas, in their work, but I’m not. I wish I could be like Saint John who has that amount of unapologetic pride and confidence in her abilities. Thanks for making realize that, because I wanna be that kind of person too.

  • Aslı

    Hi Leandra;
    You’re great! I agree with every sentence you write until the end. Because I think just like you …
    Loves from Türkiye 🙂

  • Laura Childers

    Self-esteem is such a strange animal. Thank you for writing about this topic, and keep us informed about your journey along the way.

  • Jenn

    Was thinking about this today and feeling stuck just to begin.
    How will anyone ever believe in me if I don’t first?

    Thanks for writing this.

  • EmKay

    “I’m ready to trust myself” is going to be my new morning mantra <3

  • Nora

    Thank you for sharing this! I also feel like as women, we are always told that if we love and accept ourselves, it seems like we are “full of ourselves” and then it seems like it becomes a zero-sum game. I find it hard to celebrate a win at work because I don’t want to come off as cocky. LIFE IS HARD.

  • First, Leandra, you have created this amazing site that is so enjoyable and fun, so please know you are responsible for giving so many people a wonderful gift.
    Second, I hear you. I’ve had self-esteem issues since childhood for an evolving array of reasons; basically, once I grew out of one problem with myself, I found something new about myself to hate. But in the last three years, I’ve cycled through a frenetic tornado of bad roommates, two moves, getting fired from a dream-turned-nightmare job, struggling to find a new job and change careers, realizing I have only ever dated sociopaths, drinking too much, and the cherry on top, losing someone I loved to an OD. I’m trying to learn to trust myself as well as other people, and it can really take a toll. (Having a dog helps. So does Muay Thai.)
    I really think the best we can do is be kind. Be kind to each other and ourselves, the latter of which is harder. And when we get to the end of one day, consider it a beautiful victory. Maybe it was a bad day, maybe it was a great day. But no matter what, we survived it and will live to see another.
    I wish all of you dealing with rough patches so much peace and love, both of which you all deserve unconditionally.

  • Isabel G. Tulane University

    Your post made me realize a lot about my self-esteem. Ever since I was a young girl, I was always told to be modest, humble, and unselfish. I was never to boast about any of my accomplishments and was always to compliment everyone on everything. While these habits are good ones to have, it does have a negative effect when you take it to an extreme. I began refusing compliments about myself and never wanting recognition for any of my accomplishments, yet I still sought validation. I always wanted to have the feeling of being recognized by others but would turn it away at the same time. I wanted to have this validation because I didn’t trust myself or know my worth.