“Say ‘Hi’ to that girl in the yellow dress and smile at her. You can do it,” I said to myself on the local train we took to reach our college. This was the third morning I was pushing myself to make a new friend and I succeeded. My main issue was shyness, an overpowering feeling of low self-worth that prevented me from using my talents and from making friends. My father was posted in districts where life was uncomplicated and slow-paced. But when he was transferred to Mumbai, I was a country bumpkin thrust into the hustle and bustle of a city. My low self-esteem resulted in self-inflicted social isolation. Regrettably my parents were so busy with their own lives that they failed to realise the issues I was facing.
Apart from shyness, there were other manifestations of low self-esteem such as craving for others’ approval. Shaila talks loudly, overdoes her make-up, wears flashy clothes, and throws money around in order to garner compliments. Shaila possibly did not get much love and encouragement from her family. She overcompensates by showing off.
Vineet asks, “Do you like my painting? I have the talent, you know.” He is crestfallen if you criticise his work of art. Vineet is constantly measuring his talents against the real or perceived talents of others.
Some individuals are never content and are envious of others. They are gossip-mongers who enjoy shredding the reputation of others. They suffer from low self-esteem.
Parental bias is another cause of low self-esteem. Two kids brought up in the same family are treated differently. Partiality may be shown by parents and grandparents according to various qualities of the child such as gender, colour of skin, intelligence, height and so on. Repeated parental messages such as “Shobha, your brother is much smarter than you”, are the root cause of an inferiority complex.