You know what happens to middle and high school girls who struggle with low self-esteem and insecurities?
They pack up their emotional baggage and carry it with them to college.
Case in point? This message I recently received from a young lady on Instagram:
Hello, I recently just discovered you on YouTube. I’m 20, in college and during elementary, middle, and high school I was bullied. I was mainly called ugly and joked about the way I dressed and my body shape. I struggle with insecurity issues now. Especially since being in college many girls my age have boyfriends or fiancés. I’m always the single one and no guys ever approach me. I feel miserable in college and usually binge eat in my dorm. How can I become more secure and build up my self-confidence?
It breaks my heart to see a young woman hiding out in her dorm room when she should be meeting new friends, making new memories and enjoying this new chapter in her life.
But that’s what insecurity will do to girls—rob them of their potential.
And it could happen to your daughter too.
A Crisis of Confidence
What stood out to me about this young lady’s story, is that she was bullied from elementary through high school.
Can you imagine your daughter being called “ugly,” having to endure hurtful comments about how she dresses and being body-shamed year after year??
It’s no wonder this young lady internalized it all.
The problem is she’s allowing the labels kids placed on her back in elementary, middle and high school, to affect how she feels about herself in college.
Essentially giving the bullies from her past the power to continue bullying her in the present.
And even though they’re no longer in her life, she still believes what they said about her.
That insecurity she feels as a result is now manifesting itself in her behavior…
…How she spends her time (binge eating).
…How she interacts with people (she hides out in her room alone).
…How she carries herself (not confidently according to her).
And while she’s focused on how guys don’t approach her, I’m more concerned about how she approaches HER life.
Because that’s what this is really about—her having the confidence to live her life to the fullest.
And that goes for your daughter too!
A Confidence Cure
When girls are insecure and lack confidence, their focus is often on what’s happening externally.
For this young lady, it’s that all the other girls have active social lives with their boyfriends or fiancés while she’s left alone to binge eat in her room.
But here’s what I know to be true: She’ll never gain SELF-confidence as long as she’s looking outside of herself.
So, my advice to her?
Forget about the labels those bullies from elementary, middle and high school placed on her.
Forget about not getting guys’ attention and being asked out.
Because as I tell the girls in my class, “If you allow someone to give you value, they can also take it away.”
So even if this young lady was in a relationship now, the minute it ends she’ll be back binge eating in her dorm room alone.
I see girls in middle and high school measure their value by their relationship status all the time, and it’s equally dangerous (if not more), for this young lady to do so while in college.
Instead, she needs to look internally.
Focus on what she can do to make herSELF happy, and to be whole and complete without needing anyone else’s attention.
That’s what it means to be secure and confident.
If your daughter isn’t quite “there” yet (like this young lady), there are some things she can do to help boost her confidence:
- Own Her Brilliance. God has blessed your daughter (and every girl), with gifts and talents that are uniquely hers. The more time she spends nurturing and shining in those gifts and talents, the more confident she’ll become. And don’t forget to have her keep a visual record of her accomplishments. Whether it’s writing everything down in a journal or keeping a virtual scrapbook, the point is for your daughter to be able to refer back to her “brilliance” whenever she needs a quick confidence boost.
- Practice Self-Care. If you haven’t already, now is a great time to teach your daughter to practice self-care. It’ll help her get in the habit of doing things that make her feel good about herself mentally, emotionally and physically. And when that happens, confidence is a natural byproduct.
- Speak Well of Herself. As the young lady who reached out to me on Instagram proves, bullying is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. And especially in elementary and middle school. But you know what I’ve discovered from talking to thousands of middle and high school girls? They are often their own bullies—cursing themselves out, negatively comparing themselves to other people, and being judgmental towards themselves…If you’ve ever heard your daughter engage in this type of negative self-talk, encourage her to start speaking highly of herself. Even if she has to “fake it till she makes it,” the more comfortable she gets at it the more confident she’ll become.
Have your daughter practice the three tips above now, so by the time she gets to college, you won’t have to worry about her binge eating alone in her dorm room.
She’ll be too busy making herself happy to worry about who is or isn’t paying her attention.
Now…back to the question I posed in the subject line: How confident would you say your daughter is on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 = not very, 10 = very)?
If your answer isn’t a perfect 10, what insecurities do you think are standing in her way?
I’m curious to read your response. Just leave your comment below.
P.S. I’m sure there are countless girls on college campuses across the country who can relate to the young lady whose message I shared from Instagram. And like her, their insecurities may have plagued them since middle and high school. Which is NOT the kind of baggage you want your daughter carrying with her to college. So be sure to periodically check her confidence-level and follow the three tips I shared as needed.
P.P.S. Speaking of sharing, please share these tips with your friends on social media and let’s make girls being confident go viral.