Being a teen is hard. Everything and everyone can sometimes feel like they’re against you and better than anything you could ever hope to be. But with a little hard work, you can feel your best while doing your best and project the kind of self-confidence that gets you ahead in life.
Method 1 of 4: Create Reasons to be Proud
1 Focus on experiences, not appearance. It’s not healthy for anybody’s self-esteem to be rooted in their appearance. Our physical appearance changes rapidly, can be negatively affected by many things, and definitions of beauty vary from person to person. Choose something more stable to be proud of: experience and accomplishments which cannot be taken away.
2 Provide opportunity for accomplishments. Do things with your life that you are proud of. This is generally good advice for anyone of any age. If you see someone who seems to do everything in life that you want to do, go do those things. There are lots of different things to do so choose something that you think is rewarding or important. This will go further than anything else to raise your self-esteem.
• Learn an instrument. Choose an instrument that you always wanted to be able to play and then learn how to play it. This will give you a great sense of accomplishment and happiness. It takes time and effort, but music classes are easily available through your local community center, community colleges, high schools, and through private tutoring.
• Travel. Travel the world and see things that you think are interesting. This doesn’t have to be expensive. Money can be saved by using youth hostels, couch surfing, traveling by train or carpool, or just keeping an eye out for great deals on plane tickets. Lots of amazing things to see are located nearby and can be seen or experienced for free. Traveling will give you confidence, as well as more than a few great stories to tell.
• Learn a visual art or sport. Which one of these you do will depend largely on if you are naturally a more physical person or a more mental person. Both, however, take time and a lot of practice to learn. You can take classes but you’ll learn best by doing, and especially doing them with other people. Doing art or sports will give you a great way to ease into interacting with others and meeting new people, since doing those activities with others is much more fun than doing them yourself.
• Make academic accomplishments when you can. Get better grades, consider taking honors classes, and do your best in extracurriculars. These will make you feel good but will also help you later on in life. You will have better opportunities to make money and will be able to get much more satisfying jobs by working hard in school and going to college.
3 Take responsibility. Taking responsibility is a great way to build self-esteem and confidence. In doing important things, you will not only assure yourself that you are a capable person but also provide yourself proof that you have a positive impact on the world.
• Get a job. Getting a job will not only give you money to save for college or spend on things you want, it will also give you something to be proud of. Try to get a job that helps others, like an attendant at a nursing home or a grocery bagger. This will make you feel good about what you are doing.
• Volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to boost your self-esteem. You will do valuable things for others and you can often boost your own skills while doing it. You can work in a local soup kitchen, build houses for Habitat for Humanity, or start your own volunteering group based on an issue which is important to you. These types of experiences also look very good on college applications.
• Tutor or mentor other students. Using your life experiences to help other teens and younger students will make you feel much better about yourself. You can help students through your high school or middle school, or you can try to help at a local school which is designated low-income or high-risk. This will let you help the people that need it most.
Method 2 of 4: Develop Your Individuality
1 Don’t live to please others. Your life is exactly that: your life. You should be living your life and doing things so that you are happy, not to please anyone else. There is a saying that you can’t please everybody and it is absolutely true, so don’t expect or try to make everyone happy all the time. The best you can do is make yourself happy and try to live according to what you believe is right and good.
Most importantly, you will develop the greatest sense of self-worth when you stop trying to please the “popular” crowd and start trying to please yourself. If pleasing yourself means that you want to have a lot of friends, then do things that make other people want to be friends with you by accomplishing great things and being a wonderful person. Don’t try to make friends by wearing the right clothes or getting into trouble. People that spend time with you for these reasons aren’t really your friends and will only end up hurting you in the long run.
2 Develop a sense of style. Be you, don’t be someone else. Instead of going with the crowd and wearing all the popular brands, develop a unique sense of style. This will make you stand out and give you confidence by giving you something to identify with. Be sure that this style is one that means something to you and that you feel communicates something about who you are as a person.
Style inspirations include: 1920-40’s “dapper” look, 1980’s punk, japanese street fashion, or early 1990’s grunge. Any style or image which speaks to you is great!
3 Explore your passions. Figure out who you are and what makes you happy by exploring things you care about or find interesting. Do you think parkour looks cool? Do it! Have you always wanted to learn how to dance? Do it! The only thing barring you from pursuing things that you’re passionate about is you.
Many high schools have clubs which will give you the chance to try out new sports, games, arts and other activities. Local community colleges or universities will also have clubs which teens may be able to participate in if they ask very nicely and pay a small fee.
4 Find people who understand you. The best way to deal with the harder aspects of life is to have great friends. Great friends remind you how fun and wonderful you really are. To keep your self-esteem high, find friends who understand and like you for who you really are.
Good friends should like a lot of the same things as you and have some of the same goals in life. This will make sure that you connect on a deeper level and will help you motivate each other throughout your friendship. It’s okay if your friends don’t like all of the same things that you do, however. Some differences are good and will allow you to open up your mind to new possibilities.
Don’t be friends with people who drag you down. Anyone who makes your life worse isn’t really your friend. If they make you feel bad about yourself or they want you to do bad things, then you shouldn’t be friends with them. Friends should bring out the best in us, not the worst!
5 Be assertive. Don’t just let people push you around. Don’t just give in to the desires of everyone around you. It’s good to try and make people happy and it’s good not to be self-centered, but you need to focus on you and being your own person. Being assertive, standing up for what’s right for you, will do a lot for your self-confidence and self-esteem.
If you are having a conversation with your friends or classmates, give your opinion. Ask for things that you need. Say “no” when you need or want to say “no”. And most importantly: don’t feel guilty when you do these things!
Method 3 of 4: Practice Self-Respect
1 Practice proper hygiene. One thing you need to do in order to build your self-esteem is to practice proper hygiene. In taking care of yourself, you will come to care for yourself more and more. To take care of yourself, you’ll need to practice proper hygiene. Wash your hair, and your skin regularly. Brush your teeth and your hair. Use deodorant. Wash your hands when needed. This will help you feel good about your body.
If you or your family have a hard time paying for personal hygiene items, there are often many resources in the community where you can get them for free. Local churches and organizations will often have services that provide necessities. If they don’t, they may know where to look for help.
2 Wear clean, nice clothing. Take care of your clothes. Wash them when they’re dirty and fold them to keep them from getting wrinkled. Don’t keep clothes that have a lot of holes or are ripped. Try to remove stains from clothing and if they can’t be removed, get rid of the clothes. Wear clothing that fits, not clothes that are too small or way too baggy.
If you have problems getting new clothes, you can get clothing for free from many local churches and community outreach centers. Thrift stores will also have clothing that is much cheaper than what you’d pay in normal stores. If you’re worried that all you can find is outdated clothing, try thrift stores in nice towns or nice parts of town. Stores next to big colleges will be your best bet. This will increase your chances of finding clothes which are practically new and certainly nice enough to wear for many years.
3 Get enough sleep. Teenage years are formative years, and many teens suffer from a deficit of sleep. You may think it's fine to skimp on sleep, but this practice actually has a serious impact on your health. Scientists have found that poor or little sleep is associated with lower rates of optimism and self-esteem. So if you want an easy way to boost your self-esteem as a teen, shoot to get at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep every night.
4 Exercise. A big part of feeling good in your own skin is exercising. Extra fat or generally being out of shape can make you feel sluggish, out of breath, or just unpleasant. Exercise will help you feel more energetic and healthier.
Anything which gets your heart rate up for at least ten minutes is exercise. Work out by jogging, doing push-ups and crunches, or doing squats. Anything that works for you is perfectly fine...just be consistent and don’t give up!
5 Eat healthy. Eating healthy, like exercising, will lead you to feel better in your own skin. Eating a lot of junk food will weigh you down and make you feel sluggish and sick. Eating healthy food will give you more energy and you’ll feel much happier. In feeling better, you’ll be able to feel better about yourself.
Method 4 of 4: Remove Negativity
1 Avoid negative people. Don’t spend time with anyone who is negative all the time. This will make you feel bad about yourself and the world around you. You don’t want that in your life! Instead, spend time with people who understand that sometimes life is hard or sometimes people make mistakes but that things are largely good and should be appreciated for what they are, rather than held up to a standard they can never reach.
If you have a close friend who acts like this, try to help them change. If they continue to act this way, try to spend less time with them. It’s hard but being around negative people is very unhealthy and will not help you build a good image of yourself or your life.
If you find yourself acting this way: stop. You don’t want to be that person. If there are bad things in your life, things you feel negative about, change them. Don’t complain and focus on all the bad things...make those bad things into better things!
2 Concentrate on accomplishments, not on failures. Don’t spend your time thinking about regrets and all of the times you did something wrong or failed in some way. Learn from those mistakes and move on. Instead of focusing on things you didn’t do right, remember all the things you excel at. Remember all the good things you’ve done. This will help you remember that you do good work and can accomplish great things when you try.
Make a list of the things you are most proud of. Post it on your bedroom wall and look at it every day. This will motivate you to keep doing good things to make that list longer and longer. See if you can get it to reach down to the floor or be taller than you are!
3 Remove the idea of perfection. There is a saying that nobody is perfect and it is absolutely true. Nobody is perfect. Nothing is perfect. Perfection isn’t a real thing. This means that you need to stop trying to be perfect. In trying to be perfect you will only constantly disappoint yourself. It’s good to strive for something but this is the wrong way to do it. Instead, think about where you are and try to take it to the next step. Strive for getting a B on that next test before trying to get an A. Sometimes you’ll surprise yourself and do better than you thought you would!
4 Practice self-affirmations. Tell yourself every single day that you’re a good person. You have something to offer the world. You can do things that no one else can do. You can handle all the challenges that life throws at you. You can be better and happier. You will love others and you will love yourself. You will always do your best. All of these things are true if you let them be true. You just have to be willing to put in the work. Remind yourself that these things are true every day and you will feel better about yourself and your abilities.
Sometimes it may not feel like these things are true or possible but they are. If you feel like you don’t have anything unique to offer to the world, then you just haven’t found out what it is yet. If you don’t feel like you’re a good person, give yourself the opportunity to be. Sometimes it takes work to change the things we don’t like about ourselves, but if you try you will find that with time you can make yourself into a person that makes you happy.