Everybody has a piece of advice for women living with low self-esteem. It makes me wonder if anyone ever asks them how they feel. In this article, seven Nigerian women talk about living with low self-esteem.

woman in braids holding her face in her palm and sitting on a bed

Fejiro, 25

I have had low self-esteem since I was in secondary school, but I try to suppress it. I’m slim and my legs are not straight. I am never comfortable wearing short clothes because of this. I also avoid sleeveless tops because I think my arms are too muscular for a slim body. In my head, people laugh at me for looking the way I do. My friends keep telling me my shape is good but I know all na wash. They just want to make me feel good. 

My esteem issues got worse after NYSC when I got a job. The work was so stressful I started losing weight. I hid from people that know me because I couldn’t deal with them asking me if something is wrong with me. Till now, I keep coming up with different excuses when my friends hit me up to hang out. I am jealous of girls and I don’t like walking with them because they always get attention. I don’t know how to help myself. I feel like if I add weight, I would be fine. 

Joke, 23

I am always comparing myself to others. I do not believe compliments directed at me or positive feedback about my work. When guys talk to me, I  assume it’s because they don’t have anyone better to talk to at the moment. I am always scared my friends will stop talking to me once they find someone more interesting. This is why I don’t have a lot of friends.

Blessing, 20

On a normal day, I am a vibrant young lady but in relationships, I feel small. I feel like whoever I’m with is just with me out of pity, even when they say or do nice things. The boy I am dating now is rich and cool. I always wonder why he chose me. I have tiny boobs, a tiny butt and no hips so why me? 

Jumoke, 25

I grew up fat so low self-esteem has always been a part of my experience. As a child, I used to think when I grow older I would lose weight, but that never happened. People are mean. Children are even meaner. My classmates would always remind me that I was fat. 

I feel great when I buy myself lingerie or when someone compliments me. Aside from that, I’m sad all the time. My low self-esteem made me a non-confrontational person. When people offend me, I don’t talk about it because I am scared that they will leave me. When I finally meet people that see me as equals, I find myself thinking it’s too good to be true. It’s very obvious how differently people treat people they think are not attractive. Everyone always preaches self-love but I don’t think I can self love my way out of a society that sees me as subpar.

Funmi, 21

I don’t like to admit it but I don’t have as much confidence as I would like. It’s hard for me to interact with people without worrying about what they think of me. When I speak, I ask myself if I said the right things or if I should have just kept quiet. 

Low self-esteem also affects how I dress. Some days, I feel confident wearing a high slit. Other days, I feel like I’m doing too much. I never prioritise myself in relationships because I don’t think I’m important enough. At some point, I felt like my friends didn’t like me and it was all just pity. It’s all very tiring. 

Nneka, 25

You know that saying, “He that is down fears no fall”? For me, it means that my low self-esteem is a gift because no one can tell me I am ugly or not good enough. After all, I know.

Last year, I had sex for the first time and I am in my hoe phase. I realized that when I lost weight, I had sex with anyone who wanted to have sex with me. Maybe, because I was glad they even wanted me.

People always wanna shut me up when I am being self deprecative but they don’t get it. When things go wrong, I whisper, “I hate myself”, to make myself feel better. When I meet people, I find the exact ways they are better than me to relate to them. It is calming being at the bottom on most days but it affects my job because I know I can be better. 

One of my biggest wishes is to be loved. I would like someone to reciprocate my love for them but I know I have to move past this. 

Desiree, 23

It’s a struggle interacting with people when you think little of yourself. I don’t talk so much. I try not to get into arguments or fights with people because I wouldn’t know how to defend myself when they come for me. Having low self-esteem makes you develop a lot of insecurities. I don’t like how I look. I find it hard to believe when people call me beautiful. 

In secondary school, I used to walk with my face down to hide my face. I had acne and my hair was low. I had no friends so I was pretty much alone all the time.  These days, people complain that I don’t talk a lot and I don’t know what to tell them. Even with people I like, it’s hard to talk to them. One thing that helps though is weed. When I am high, I get a confidence boost and I can interact with others. 

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