By Elmer

Advice Columnist

Dear Elmer,

This semester I’ve had a really hard time accepting, let alone loving, myself. I’m not exactly what I thought I’d be when I was little. How can I make myself more confident, and have better self-esteem?

Sincerely,

Not an Astronaut

Dear Not an Astronaut,

It sounds like you’re trying to reconcile your current situation with your past expectations.

I wish it was as simple as just saying “don’t do that,” but, of course, it’s not. As kids we often imagine our future selves as living grand lives at the top of our respective fields.

I thought I wanted to be a Justice on the United States Supreme Court, and even though it seems like those positions can go to just about anyone now, I’ve given up doing anything closely related to legal studies. Not unlike you, I was upset by this for quite some time and it hit me most intensely when I started college.

I felt like I was failing at something I had wanted to do for a very long time as soon as I was given the chance to try it. I wrestled with it for a while before realizing that I actually just hated law.

It’s okay if your old plans don’t line up with where you are now. Maybe you don’t actually like physics, engineering, or ordinary differential equations. Maybe you don’t actually like the parts of being an astronaut, even if you still think it would be a neat thing to do.

Try not to dwell so much on the fact that you aren’t in space. Instead, focus on how great it is that you aren’t being forced to drink recycled urine.

When it comes to general confidence, sometimes it can help to make a list of all the things you feel like you’re good at.

According to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, recalling times you felt successful or in control can make you feel and act more confident.

You might not be great at calculus, but maybe you’re a fast reader. That counts for something. The things you write down don’t even have to be career- or academically-oriented. Maybe you put together great outfits or are really good at knowing how many there are of something without having to count. That’s still something to be proud of.

If all else fails, spend a day pretending to have the confidence of a straight, white male, whose father is the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

You might just realize by the end of the day that you deserve to feel that good about yourself every single day. Well, maybe not that good, but you get my point.

Consider yourself advised,

Elmer

The Elm

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