Jude's story: how to protect your self-esteem when in new situations

Do you ever feel self-conscious or that you are not being yourself when around unfamiliar people? You have made friends, yet you still feel as though you are struggling to fit in with this new group. While other people are thriving in this setting, you still feel like the odd one out. It is important to focus on being unique and celebrate this as being part of your individual journey, and see it as something that is not a permanent barrier but as something that could change.

Healthy self-esteem is important for having healthy relationships, but especially for the relationship we have with ourselves. Our self-esteem can affect how we value ourselves, achieve our goals and interact with others. However, sometimes we can doubt ourselves and feel unworthy when we are around groups of people who may not necessarily be like us.

At university, I was exposed to new groups of people that I would have never interacted with otherwise. This led me to feel like I was not identifying myself as part of the group and that because I may not have much in common with them, my experiences were less valid. The people I was meeting did not share the same background.

However, it still felt like everyone had a link to each other, whether that was the type of school they went to or their interests, and this link did not extend to me. This left me feeling like I was undeserving of my place, and I also began to feel both academically and socially invalid. We all bring different things, and we all have a place, and our individuality should be upheld on our journeys. Self-esteem can affect how you view any setbacks, achievements, and social interactions. By developing healthy self-esteem, we can feel that what we bring to the table is enough and always will be! I think this is why self-esteem is an important part of having a healthy relationship with ourselves.

Four ways I moved away from feeling invalid and rebuilt that much-needed healthy relationship from within

1. Being sociable

Encouraging myself to socialise allowed me to communicate openly about myself and feel important. It may surprise you how many people like to listen to your experiences, particularly if they are different from their own.

Try to encourage yourself to try out different social activities or meet new groups of people. I found that socialising regularly helped me to communicate more openly about myself and to also feel important. It may surprise you how many people enjoy listening to your experiences, particularly if they are different from their own.

2. Reflecting on my journey

Reflect on your journey to encourage self-acceptance which is important on the journey to self-love. I had to remind myself of my achievements and that I did get into this university on my own merit! Put simply, if I did not deserve to be here, then why was I here? Placing significance on my journey and seeing it as different but as one of many journeys allowed me to be at peace. You deserve to be proud of your achievements any and everywhere!

3. Talking to familiar friends

Talking to people who can comfort you about what you are feeling is an effective way to reassure yourself of your situation. This is an essential tool to remind yourself that it is okay sometimes to find comfort in other people. I talked to friends who knew me and who happened to be going through the same experiences at their own universities. I realised that I was not alone and was then able to take pride in having a similar and shared experience with the people closest to me.

4. Being resilient

Generating a healthy relationship with yourself and building self-esteem is not a linear process. It takes a lot of thought to understand what you are feeling and choose to grow as an individual, so take pride in your own experience and journey! Building resilience and not giving up was a great way to maximise my own potential in many aspects. If we do not push ourselves, we may never know how far we have come along our journey. The importance of having a healthy relationship with yourself will support you in any situation and it remains important to remind yourself exactly why you matter!

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