Seeking Self-Worth: An Introspective from a Girl who Knows

Have you ever went on a dating app to receive compliments? Have you ever posted a picture just to receive comments on how good you look? How about texted someone you didn’t like to have a conversation? Yeah, I have too… 

My Story

Hello, my name is Hailey, and I’m addicted to attention. 

At first, I didn’t go looking for attention.  As any teenager wanted, I wanted to be loved. But how to find that love was a question I didn’t have an answer for, so I created a dating profile in hopes I would find the prince charming of my dreams. I included a witty bio and added two or three decent photos of me. I didn’t think anything would happen. But in seconds, messages started to appear saying I was gorgeous, beautiful, possibly sent from the heavens. What was I supposed to do with that information?  I believed (at least my adolescent self believed) I wasn’t one bit of what they claimed I to be. I wasn’t pretty, nor was I gorgeous. I didn’t stand out among the rest; I was simply invisible. I wanted to believe what they said merely because it was someone from the opposite sex who could be attracted to me. Thirty conversations later and a slew of compliments, and I began to become confident in my looks. Suddenly I began buying shorter shorts, and dresses that accented my curves because I wanted to be noticed. 

I knew the dating app was not good for my mental health; I mean, how could texting thirteen guys all at once be good for me? But for some reason, I couldn’t get rid of it. I wanted to hear the compliments guys gave me. I wanted to have conversations with other people. I wanted, and wanted but needed more than anything to see that notification light on the top of my phone, blinking away telling me someone out there wanted to talk to me. Knowing that someone wanted to know my favorite color or perhaps my dream job indicting to me that they saw something in me that they wanted to know more about. Whether they were texting five or fifteen other women didn’t matter to me, because at least I was one of them. Finally, somehow in some small way, I mattered to someone, and that’s all I really needed, or so I thought. 

I didn’t see the effects of my attention addiction until guys would no longer compliment me anymore. Soon I would lose interest in the conversation, and guys would stop texting me altogether. My self-esteem soon plummeted and any thought that one day I would find the love of my life did too. No longer did I walk around with the spirit that I was pretty and interesting to talk too. Instead, I found myself crying and in a haze, because no guy wanted to talk to me.  

But with the help of family and friends, I soon realized I had a problem. I had become addicted to the attention guys gave me. Without it, I felt like I was nothing simply a spec of dirt they could stomp on at any moment. But with it, I was someone to be treasured, adored, and loved. I was lost.

My Five Tips

But with the help of these five tips, I’ve come to understand my addiction as they assisted me in coping with my need for attention. If you find yourself looking to others to find your confidence or simply feel the need to text many people at once give some of these ideas a try. 

1. Distract yourself 

There are many ways in which you can distract yourself from wanting attention. There is the conventional way of diving head first into your daily activities which can work for some people. Other people like the distraction of hanging out with friends and watching TV. However, I diverted my attention from boys in a different way. I chose to think positively through a notification stream. Instead of having random conversations, I downloaded apps that allowed me to think positively about myself and the world around me. Apps like daily facts, daily horoscope, and daily quotes allowed me to be notified at random times, thus changing the way I viewed attention. No longer did I need the constant texts since these notifications helped me feel as if I wasn’t alone. For once, I felt like I was in control of who I wanted to be. Perhaps by distracting yourself with apps, you’re interested in it could do the same for you too. 

2. Find value in what you do  

To some degree, I needed those constant reminders that I was pretty because I had nothing else to cling to. I didn’t have a purpose if you will. Finding value in the activities you like and the work you do is an essential part of loving yourself. Learning how to value your talent and recognize that you are needed not only helps with your self-esteem but can make you learn new things about yourself too. 

3. Allow yourself to grow 

You may think you’re attention seeking behavior is who you are at your core as I did. But allow yourself to grow as you explore the other sides of yourself that are positive. If you like to make cakes, then experiment with baking and study baking practices. Allow yourself to have new experiences and even make mistakes once and awhile. Just because you like attention doesn’t mean that’s who you are. 

4. Be honest with yourself  

After a year with minimal attention from guys, I sat down and took a hard look at myself. Did I like who I had become? Was I better off without the attention of guys? The answer was yes. It’s important, to be honest with yourself about what is good and bad for your mental health. Just because something feels good doesn’t mean that it’s good for the right reasons. Be honest with yourself for why you like the feeling of attention or why you like to be without it.   

5. Love who you are    

Even at my highest points, I’ve come to understand that loving myself is a journey. No one can give you the answer or a special code to suddenly spin around and start loving yourself. Instead, sometimes, you need to reflect, forgive, and move forward. Other times you just need to find what you’re looking for whether it be in yourself or in life. Loving yourself takes time. But it’s important to remember to love yourself for the good and the bad: for the mistakes, for the failures, for the triumphs, and the wins. Love yourself for everything you are not just one part of you. 

If you’ve experienced or are experiencing any type of attention-seeking behavior, understand that you are NOT alone.  

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