Over the past year and a half or so, I've gotten a lot of comments and feedback from people who have come to know me online through my videos and charity work.
Some of the feedback has been... let's just say, not so nice (haters gonna hate, LOL), but most of it has been amazing.
I mean, the connections I've made with perfect strangers from around the world who now feel like friends I've known all my life are just awesome, and they're one of the reasons I do what I do.
One of the questions I get asked all the time has to do with self-esteem, and what it is that I do to make sure that the negative comments that come my way don't affect me.
I've thought about this a lot.
I think that to some extent, however much self-esteem you start out with probably has to do with your family life. I mean, the messages you hear as a little kid growing up really do matter, whether they come from parents, teachers or other kids.
When you are growing up, what other people say about you does affect your self-esteem, no question.
My family is very close, and I've always felt like I've been able to be myself around them and that they accept me for who I am. Lucky for me, I don't walk around on eggshells worried that I might say or do something that someone won't like, or hide out in my room to avoid a fight.
And I think that that has definitely helped me to feel at home in my own skin and to go easy on myself when I make mistakes.
But some kids don't have that kind of family or the support system that they need from other adults to feel good about themselves.
Some kids, all they hear is how stupid or ugly they are. Or, if they don't do well on a test or something, how dumb they are.
I get that.
And what I would say to kids who know they need to work on their self-esteem (whether they have had the support of family and other adults or not) is... take a risk.
Sounds crazy, right?
I mean, when you're at your lowest, the last thing on earth you want to do is to try something that you might fail at. (Believe me, I've had days when I just want to climb under the covers and never come out.)
But do it anyway.
Because ultimately, no matter how much someone believes in you or supports you or loves you unconditionally, there comes a time when, if you don't match that belief and support and love yourself, you're gonna get stuck.
And when you get stuck, you start to question yourself.
And when you start to question yourself, there's a 50/50 chance that you're gonna believe that little voice in your head that tells you you're not strong enough or good enough or pretty enough or smart enough or whatever enough... to do whatever it is you want to do.
And when you start believing that little voice, you stay stuck. But what you really need to do is shut out the negativity and prove to yourself that you can do whatever it is you want to do.
That's where self-esteem comes from. Not someone else telling you you're great (though it helps... in the beginning).
But by you showing yourself just how great you are.
Proving to yourself your value and your worth.
It has to be an inside-out job. There's just no getting around it.
So here's a challenge for you: If you're lacking in the self-esteem category and want to do something about it, start with trying something that you're interested in.
Write a poem and show it to someone you trust.
Do a sketch of a flower or your best friend's smile, and then upload it to Tumblr.
Or volunteer for work at an animal shelter or someplace where you'll be given some responsibility, and then work your butt off making sure you follow through.
And then, give yourself credit for stepping out, taking a risk, and trying something new -- even if someone else hates on you for doing it (remember, that's a reflection of what's in their heart, not yours).
And when you do? Leave me a comment and let me know about your experience so that I can also tell you how awesome you are and brag about you online. Because you know I'll be here, cheering you on.
* * *
If you're a singer/songwriter (or aspire to be one someday), you gotta check out this contest from Bellaboo called "Sing for Self Esteem."
They've provided the words and music, so all you have to do is record yourself singing the Bellaboo song and then upload it to the site, and then get all your friends to vote for you for your chance to win a professional recording. (Amazing, huh?!)
And get busy! Voting begins August 13!