Reported by James Arellano
May is notorious for its typically uplifting, bright, and saturated weather. It almost brings out a sense of joy, a way to look at the bright side of things. This month, May is National Teen Self-Esteem Awareness Month and gives us a chance to bring awareness to an often overlooked demographic of people – teenagers. Over one-third of teens suffer from low self-esteem and thoughts of self-doubt.
Self-esteem and the mental health of teens are something that not many think about. Suicide is the third most common cause of teenage death. Many of the reasons for suicide or self-destructive behavior stem from low self-esteem and other self-doubting thoughts such as: “I used to hate the way I looked, I developed bad habits because of it.” An anonymous student states, “`I was scared to reach out because I felt like I didn’t matter.”
Many teenagers feel anxious and doubtful about reaching out for help. “I felt like it was a problem that was going to blow away so I told no one about it.
Low self-esteem can be caused by a variety of reasons, such as going through puberty, life experiences, and social circumstances, and generally results in feelings of self-criticism, anxiety, and loneliness. Understanding the cause of low self-esteem is key to identifying how to regain self-confidence.
Cyberbullying and the internet as a whole is a prominent problem that directly affects self-esteem. With the reach that social media has on the youth, there’s no wonder that cyberbullying and body image are issues among young people.
Sophomore Gia Osorno shares her personal experiences with social media. “I used to see myself as ugly and overweight due to the skinny girls I would see on social media”, Gia said. “The constant exposure to carefully edited photos and idealized versions of others lead to self-comparison and anxiety.”
Sophomore Gia Osorno
Another root of low self-esteem can be attending school. “For some, going to school is a dreadful thought, it’s an environment where you’re prone to compare yourself to other students’ performance,” Gia voiced.
For many people, they feel like their self-worth is directly tied to their grades. and if those grades drop, they feel like their value is plummeting too.
“My grades dropped and it made me want to stop trying.” An anonymous student said. While school is a stressful task, It’s important to set manageable goals and ask for help.
No matter the cause, when dealing with low self-esteem, It’s important to recognize self-worth and importance and surround yourself in an encouraging environment. “I maintain my self-esteem by letting go of the negative thoughts that I get. My self-esteem has gotten way better because of the way I handle myself. It’s just heavy baggage that I don’t let define myself,” Gia asserted.
If your friends are struggling with low self-esteem, It’s important to listen, encourage, and involve them in activities, and make them feel valued. “Let them know that you genuinely care about them, let them share their thoughts and feelings while actively listening.” Gia shared. “Validate their experiences and show empathy towards their feelings.”
National Teen Self-Esteem Awareness Month is a time for everyone to take a step back and take a moment to reflect on how they treat themselves and others around them; to be caring and kind to everyone and make a positive step forward. It’s an idea that should be year-long.