Q: Lately, ang dami kong nakikitang gusto kong subukan, like wall-climbing, for example, pero nase-self-conscious ako when I think about making a mistake in front of other people. Sometimes, nangyayari rin 'to at work. I feel like I'm holding myself back but I don't want to anymore. Any tips on how to work on my low self-esteem?
We've all had moments that made us feel self-conscious, when we overanalyze what people might think when they see us. We're afraid of being judged. While this type of self-awareness is normal, it can also be paralyzing—in a way, it's what keeps people from going against social norms. This has pros and cons.
When your self-consciousness is holding you back from trying fun, harmless activities or pursuing new, professional opportunities, it might be keeping you from becoming the best version of yourself. We asked Ayn Bernos, the entrepreneur behind Morena the Label, for advice on how to build your self-esteem.
How to work on your self-esteem, according to Ayn Bernos
For her, the first step was establishing her support system, which took a really long time: "I realized that the root of my self-consciousness was my relationship with the people around me. Are my friends supportive? Is my family supportive? What kind of relationship do I have with them? Once I figured that out…overtime—it's not a one day thing where you cut people off—I became more aware of how I related [to] other people...No matter what I pursue, whether it's putting myself out there on YouTube or starting a podcast, I no longer have to think, 'Am I too ambitious?' because the people in my life don't really think that way...That [was] step one for me—knowing how my environment really affects how I look at myself and taking a proactive approach to 'curating' my circle."
Next, she set goals for herself and put them in writing. Ayn said, "Allowing myself to put them in writing empowered me. I can see it. I can see how others have done it. I can take those baby steps towards those goals. I look back at the time when I was 19, I was in college, and I was dreaming [about] all of these things—trying to figure out if I could ever quit my corporate job or if I would be able to do things independently. It didn't make sense then but I knew that because I put it in writing, it would happen eventually. It was empowering to see the concrete steps. I love planning!"
She also found inspiration in the way others pursued their dreams. Ayn consumed content and stories of successful people who made it happen: "I love reading biographies. I love listening to podcasts where people talk about their journeys, failures, and successes. When I learned about the people I looked up to, I realized it was much more doable for me. It was comforting to know that people I admire were also in this place in their life. It felt a little less intimidating, knowing that I could also get there with time."
"I can't control how I feel about what I see
but I can control what I see..."
But we all know that feeling self-conscious can also stem from our physical insecurities. And just like how she "curated" her circle, Ayn chose to curate her online space, explaining, "I made it a point to follow people who: 1) looked like me 2) had more or less the same aspirations and 3) who really shared their journeys. I can't control how I feel about what I see but I can control what I see because I choose who I follow. I choose who I read [about]. I choose who I listen to. And being proactive about the kind of influence that has access to me has allowed me to kind of filter things—filter how I see the world. Now I can just focus on building myself up instead of comparing myself to others who live very different lives from me. It's not better. It's not worse. But it's just different. And it's nice to be reminded of my own path every time I go online."
Learn more about how to work on your self-esteem by watching the video below.
Ayn Bernos is the entrepreneur behind Morena the Label, a brand that celebrates sun-kissed skin and challenges colorism. She is passionate about women empowerment, skin color positivity, and self-development. Connect with Ayn on Instagram, TikTok, or Youtube.
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