I don’t know if this is apparent, but I am a highly sensitive person. I do a pretty good job at pretending I’m not simply because the world can be a bit harsh, but, it’s who I am.
Like most people who are highly sensitive, I’ve grown up always assuming this to be a bad thing. I grew up around labels such as “too sensitive” or “too quiet” which to me, indicated that this trait was a negative one.
As I grew into adulthood I went through phases of acceptance of myself and my sensitive nature; it made me exceptionally good at the personal aspects of my work in every job I’ve ever held and it made me a pretty good friend. But along with the phases of acceptance, I also went through phases of rejection of this part of me; it made me a target for ridicule in spaces where this trait was viewed as a weakness.
Recently, I had an encounter that sent me spiraling. My “me” was again under scrutiny and I had to make a choice. Do I do what I’d done for years, change myself to fit this mold, this expectation of what I should be simply to avoid the sting of rejection? Or do I stick to what I know to be right which is to be who I am?
If I wanted to deceive you, I could say that this was an easy choice and that I picked me first and foremost and lived happily ever after, but that’s not the truth. The truth is the choice sent me deep into crisis. I found myself not only feeling the weight of rejection from others, but I also found myself rejecting myself. I became enraged that I couldn’t be more like what “everyone” had expected me to be. I became hateful of my quietness, my introspective nature, my desire to observe before jumping in and my slightly awkward approach to social situations. And I was there for days. I knew I was wrong, but I still felt all of this bitter animosity towards myself.
Even today, almost a month later I’m a bit gun shy when being observed. I stepped away from social media, YouTube and I haven’t written publicly in a while. I’m not completely settled, but what I can say is that I’m choosing myself, as I am.
Once I made that choice, I had some work to do. I needed to rebuild my confidence and heal the wounds caused by others, but also the wounds caused by myself. I hurt myself more than anyone ever could because when it came down to it, I rejected myself.
I’m still in the process and every day I have to consciously make the decision to take care of myself, but it’s working. So I wanted to share the process of how I’m rebuilding my self-confidence and repairing my self-esteem after a set back.
How I’m Rebuilding My Self-Confidence After A Set Back
The first thing I did was get quiet and get alone.
What was extremely helpful for me during that time was the fact that I was sent on a work trip alone. I had to trust myself to not only navigate by myself, but to care for myself in the process. There was no one to speak for me, just me. I was able to sit in silence, and get uncomfortable with my thoughts and feelings, by myself, in a hotel room.
The next thing I did was eat well.
I know that sounds so simple, but there’s a connection between your gut health and your mental health. And if your gut is healthy, that’s another factor working with you towards a healthy mind and not against you. I made sure to stay on top of my fruit, veggie and protein intake, I took my probiotics and stayed hydrated.
Another thing that helped me was I rediscovered something I loved and made time for it.
I grew up as a competitive swimmer. If there was a pool, I was going to be in it and I loved it. It relieved my stress, made me happy and showcased my strengths. I rediscovered my love for the pool while on that same work trip and as soon as I landed I opened a gym membership at a gym with a pool. I swim almost every day. Not only is it doing numbers for my cardiovascular health, but the way I fill with confidence when I set a goal and conquer it in the pool is unmatched.
The last thing that I’ve done and it’s actually something I’m still doing, intentionally surrounding myself with people who love me for me.
Being around people I don’t have to impress, people I don’t have to be anyone but me for, it’s healing. From spending nights hanging out with my husband to going out with girlfriends, creating space in close proximity to people who bring me joy has done a number to remind me why I like being me.
As I said, I’m still in the process. I’m still building (sometimes it takes a while) but I can feel myself coming back and I’m so excited for all these little steps along the way.
Thank you for hanging out!
I promise we’ll talk soon
xx Nicole Eva
Glad for your process and thanks for sharing.
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💛 thank you!
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I can relate to a lot of the things mentioned in this post. I too am a quiet person who’s an observer. I don’t feel the need to be a part of every conversation (especially if it’s something I don’t know or care to know about). A certain relative of mine has often critiqued me about my quietness and always said that I needed to try to “fit in” with everyone else if I ever wanted to have friends. When it comes to finding people to hang around, I’ve always been anti people-pleaser. Either you take me for who I am or you don’t. But it always bothered me that my relative felt like something was wrong with me because I’m not an extrovert like her.
A lot of people don’t realize that quiet people are very smart, creative, and have so much to contribute to the world. If more people took the time to sit down and get to know them, they could see that.
I can be sensitive at times as well. It’s a shame that society makes one feel bad for being this way. I personally have seen how sensitive people are often categorized as being “weak” and “pushovers.” We are human and should be allowed to express our emotions. Keeping everything bottled up and pretending everything is fine to please others does more harm than good for anyone.
I appreciate your transparency in this post Nicole. Stay strong, be encouraged, and take your time in coming back. Your well-being comes first always. God bless you and take care girl! 🙂