Sunday, 18 February 2018

HANNAH: MAKING FRIENDS WITH ME

Reader Hannah shares how she summoned strength at a time when she was feeling lost, isolated and alone. Read on and be inspired!

Hannah says:
Just six years ago I was painfully shy and very unhappy at school. I had zero confidence and a group of girls picked on me on a daily basis, which made my self-esteem drop lower still. I got to the point where I didn’t want to go into school. I was miserable, and lost, and I had no clue what to do about it.

Fast forward to now. I am nineteen years old and in my first year of uni studying psychology, a subject I love. I have good friends, a lovely boyfriend and big hopes and dreams for the future. What changed? I did. I decided that I was sick of being everybody’s target, the one everyone picked on. I asked one of the bullies why she was doing it, and she told me I was ‘just too easy to pick on.’ I was a loser, she said. I looked in the mirror and I didn’t see a loser but I did see a very unhappy girl, with greasy hair and bad posture, unable to stand tall and look people in the eye because I was so sure they’d hate me. I wanted to disappear, and I hated myself, and it was obvious to everyone I knew.

I asked my older sister for help. She had always teased me too, but when she saw how unhappy I was she stopped being mean and became my biggest supporter. Her advice made me angry at first. She helped me to find a shampoo that was right for my hair, came with me to get a more flattering haircut, helped me choose cooler clothes. But the biggest difference was she helped me to see that I could be less hard on myself, and that actually I had to do that, because the self-hate was attracting all the nastiness that made school such a nightmare. It took a very long time to change this. Two years, maybe more. And I am still learning every day.

My sister told me she began every morning by looking in the mirror and telling herself the day ahead would be a good one. I realised I looked at myself and silently told myself how ugly I was, how scared I was of the day ahead. I tried to change it, because I thought it couldn’t do any harm, and very slowly I started to feel better. When my sister went back to college she started sending me uplifting cards and postcards which I put on my wall. I stopped comparing myself to others, stopped expecting the worst from every situation and started treating myself with less disgust. It became habit to eat well, exercise, take time to read and study, choose nice clothes and make sure I looked friendly.

I didn’t turn into one of the popular kids. I was still seen as geeky but I did begin to make friends, and the bullies stopped bugging me because I stopped reacting so much. I got really interested in the reasons why we treat others badly and how we can change things. It’s why I chose my uni course. I don’t think the thirteen year old me would recognise the person I am now, but that scared girl is a part of who I am... and always will be. I just learned that she was never my enemy, but someone I had to accept and make friends with. I still start the day with a positive message in the mirror, and I finish it by listing things I am grateful for in my diary. It has honestly changed my life.

Cathy says:
Wonderful words of wisdom, Hannah! Keep being strong! Do YOU have any tips on how to overcome bullying or low self-esteem? COMMENT BELOW to share with others.

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