Part of being a teen is having thoughts and feelings about different parts of your life, such as how you feel about:
- Your friends and other kids your age
- How you are doing in school and in other activities
- Your parents
- The way you look
While having these new feelings, many changes are also taking place in your body. It is normal to feel self-conscious or shy about the changes in your body and emotions but there are also changes to celebrate.
Sometimes feeling happy comes naturally. When things are going your way, it’s easy to feel happy. Say, for example, that your soccer team wins the regional championships. You may find yourself smiling for a week!
Other times, you may have to work a bit to feel happy. There are things you can do to help. For example, did you know that exercise can help you feel happy? Getting regular exercise helps your body produce endorphins (say: en-DOR-finz) that make you feel good. You can also eat healthy foods and get plenty of sleep. This can help you feel good, too. Finally, find a hobby that you really enjoy. All of these things can help make you feel happy.
You have probably heard adults talk about self-esteem, but do you know what it is? Self-esteem describes the value and respect you have for yourself.
If you have a healthy self-esteem, you feel good about yourself as a person and are proud of what you can do. Having a healthy or high self-esteem can help you to think positively, deal better with stress, and boost your drive to work hard.
If you have low self-esteem, you probably feel bad about yourself all the time. A low self-esteem may get in the way of doing things you might enjoy. For example, if you have a low self-esteem you may not try out for the school play because you think you won’t get picked for a role. But how will you know unless you try? For some, low self-esteem can contribute to serious problems such as depression, drug and alcohol use, and eating disorders.
It’s normal to feel down sometimes. Everyone has their sad days and hard days. This is not the same as having low self-esteem. Having low self-esteem means that you feel badly about yourself all of the time, not just once in a while.
Self-confidence is a little different from self-esteem. Self-confidence is having a positive and realistic opinion of yourself and being able to accurately measure your abilities.
Self-confidence is also an important part of feeling good about yourself. Self-confidence is that little voice inside of you that tells you that you are okay, that you are a good person, and that you know how to deal with things in good times and in bad.
Confidence can develop as you grow up. As a baby, you started to learn self-confidence from knowing your family loved you. As you learned to walk, play, and talk you also learned self-confidence. Now as a young woman, you are learning to be more self-confident in school, playing sports, and in other social settings. Sometimes this is hard. Participating in class, talking to new teachers or students, or trying out for an after-school activity may make you feel stressed or anxious. That is normal! The good news is, as you try new things, you gain confidence in spite of your fears. In fact, that is what real self-confidence is — your belief that you can do things well even when you have doubts.
Content last updated May 18, 2010