I know we don’t all look alike or talk the same, or even have the same dreams and desires as those sitting around us right now. That is totally OK; there is nothing greater than being able to fully be yourself, surrounded by those who want to see you succeed and make you feel confident.

But then, of course, we hear a few negative things and it may take us out of our game for a while. You might feel as though people’s perceptions of you become a little distorted. We start to shrink a little in our minds and feel as though we are no longer as good as we thought, just because someone made a nasty comment.

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Murray is a social work senior and Counseling and Psychological Services ambassador.

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, more than one out of every five children report they have been bullied. In my personal experience, dealing with bullying has been an obstacle for many years.

Often, we hear people talking about how “we are our own worst enemy.” I was for sure my worst enemy.

I would hear what people would say about me and start to overthink. It led to crazy thoughts about myself, lowering my self-esteem because I thought what people were saying was true. I found that I stopped doing what I loved and voicing my opinion, thinking that I wasn’t as capable as others just because some people were uncomfortable with me expressing myself.

It made me feel so little. Growing up we are taught that it’s OK to be different or think outside of the box every once a while, but sometimes it feels like if we do, we are going to just keep getting shut down. We have to remember that it is okay to be you, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Don’t let what they have to say about you make you feel like any less of a person because your “norm” isn’t quite the same as anyone else’s.

I personally am still in the process of rebuilding my self-esteem and confidence day-by-day because it is tough, but you are never alone and you’re a lot stronger than what you are giving yourself credit for. Next time, instead of playing along with the bully and joining in on the harassment of someone else, try standing up for the victim. According to a study by York and Queen’s Universities, 57 percent of bullying stops thanks to the intervention of peers.

Finally, here are some tips about how to improve your self-esteem: keep a journal and write about your truths and who you really are. Leave yourself nice, positive and encouraging notes and hide them all over so that they will be a surprise when you see them.

My mom used to tell me all the time: people will always talk; it’s just about who you choose to listen to. Everyone is special and wonderfully made in their own way. Don’t let social media or the words of other people stop you from doing what you love.

Always remember you are loved and not alone.

opinion-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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