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Dear Dish-It: I Have Low Self-Esteem

Dear Dish-It,

I have low self-esteem and my classmates’ teasing doesn’t help. I know I'm not ugly, but no one ever asks me to dance at dances, even though everyone else has been slow- dancing with each other for a few years. What should I do?

No Confidence


Dear No Confidence,

It may sound a little cheesy, but feeling good about who you are - that is, having a healthy amount of self-esteem and self-confidence - is one of those things that will help make your life happier and more successful. Having confidence in yourself and your abilities goes a long way whether you're facing a tough decision, adapting to a new situation or standing up against peer pressure. Here are some tips on how to build your self-esteem.

1. Take a deep breath.

Staying relaxed and being laid-back in general can help you see the bigger picture and not sweat the small stuff so much. It's also a good frame of mind to be in when you're taking a close look at the things you're not so good at.

2. Take inventory of your strengths.

Everybody's good at something, and many people are good at quite a few things. Even if you don't have a talent or strength that you're aware of, you probably have some interests you can develop into strengths. Make a list of a few things you're good at and a few things you're interested in and would like to be better at. Share this list with your parents, an aunt or uncle, or a teacher you like and trust. They can probably help you find other things you're good at, too, and help you come up with a plan for developing other skills and interests.

3. Realize your limits.

Nobody's perfect - not even close. It may not always seem this way, but it's true. So if you weren't born a good singer, a super athlete or an "A" student, that's OK. You have a personality and a perspective on the world that's all your own and completely valuable - even if you suck at basketball, have a big nose or look terrible in leggings.

4. Stop putting yourself down. Now!

One of the biggest things that keeps people from achieving their goals - and feeling good about themselves - is negative self-talk. In other words, telling yourself that you're a loser or a failure puts a big damper on your ability to get what you want and be who you want. If you don't do well at a particular project or task, it doesn't mean that you never will. Perhaps you weren't prepared or the time simply wasn't right. It doesn't mean that you're a lousy human being or that you'll never succeed. It's OK to be upset for a bit when things don't go your way, but after a little while, let it go and move on. You'll be that much closer to achieving what you want if you do.

5. Celebrate progress and small victories.

Did you pass your driver's test or give a killer speech despite feeling nervous? Give credit where credit's due: You did it, and you rule! And guess what? You can tackle bigger, harder projects, too.

6. Pat yourself on the back every day.

Find a few small things that you did well each day. Whether it's waking up on time, smiling at the dorky hall monitor or sending a card to your grandmother, a lot of good can be accomplished in one day - and it's something to take pride in.

So, ya gotta burnin' question? Need some love directions? Thinkin' 'bout stuff like depression, sex, how ya feel 'bout YOURSELF (that's called "self-esteem"), boyfriends, girlfriends, losin' old friends, bullyin' or peer pressure, but too scared to ask the parents? Don't be scared to Dish-It here. Send all of your questions to deardish@kidzworld.com But 'member, if ya hang out in Chat with other Kidzworld members who know ya by your 'username', ya might wanna use a secret nickname when ya write in. That way no one'll ever know it's you. And, just in case ya don't know, Dish-It gets a lotta letters everyday, and she can't answer 'em all. So keep checkin' the column cuz she's prob'ly answerin' somethin' very similar to your question while you're out doin' somethin' else. K? And Thanks! Ya keep her outta trouble. Oh! And if ya've got words of wisdom you wanna share, we'll dish 'em up, too.

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