This seems to come up a lot when it comes to dating. I'm in a few groups on Facebook and I'll often hear men and women complaining about their troubles with dating, or with finding dates. They'll list off all of these things that must be wrong with them, and drone on about how no one could possibly like them, which is why they never approach anyone of the opposite sex (or same sex).
Some of these groups were, oddly enough, originally created with the intent of facilitating the mingling of people with similar interests, and these folks will come to the group and post about how undesirable they feel they are. This is not a good way to sell yourself.
Now, to be fair, the groups have all kind of evolved beyond just mingling with the intent to date, especially considering most of us live way too far apart from each other for that to be practical. So, it's mostly just a group of random topics, yet we all have this one shared interest. That being said, self deprecation, unless done in some sort of humorous fashion, is rarely endearing. In fact, is ofttimes quite off-putting, and is likely to drive people away from you.
If all you can do to describe yourself is tell us how shitty you are, well... Imagine if a used car salesman were to attempt to sell you a car and he started off by telling you about all of the recalls it's had so far, and how many accidents this particular vehicle had been in. Then, what if he started listing off all of the repairs it needed, and pointed out all of the chips in the paint, and the dents, and all of the baggage that's in the trunk for some inexplicable reason? And trust me, this is not designer luggage, we're talking about. This is baggage. Like bottom shelf, department store, cheapest shit you can buy, luggage, and it is filled with rotting food. Why? Because, why not? That's why!
This car is not going to get sold today. Or ever.
Now, perhaps that car was a bad example, but maybe I can fix up my example a bit. So, the car has some issues. Granted. It has that luggage in the back for God knows what reason, so it needs to get rid of that. So we toss it. Done. No more luggage. That's a big step. The damn car is looking better already. It's already forgetting about its previous driver. Now, the recall notices... Well, those are manufacturer flaws. Some of them you can fix, some of them you live with. Just be responsible with them. Right? The accidents? Well, everyone has had some accidents in their past. Have they been repaired, or are they still in disrepair? Are there still damages? Can they be fixed? Do they need to be fixed?
Those nicks in the paint and the dents... Well, those can give a car character. If they're not so bad that they interfere with the function of the car, then the dents and nicks aren't a big deal. I say you just live with them.
Alright, so this car isn't as bad as we thought. We just needed to look at it from a different perspective and maybe fix a few things. Stop looking at the shitty things so much and let's look at some of the good stuff for a change, right? The car runs, doesn't it? It started right up, without hesitation, and does so every damn time. The color is nice too. Even with the little nicks in the paint. The interior is cloth, so you're not burning your ass on it every time it's hot out and you're wearing shorts when you sit down on the seat. There's legroom. All the doors lock, all the windows work, the ashtray has never been used, and the lighter/outlet still works.
Fuck it, there's nothing major wrong with this car. It didn't sound so great in the beginning, because we were concentrating on all of the shit, but once we looked at the bigger picture, we could see it was more than just the superficial damages, and more than its history.
You have to learn to do that. You have to learn to see more than just the negative in yourself. I think we all beat ourselves up a lot. We're our own worst critics. Some of us had other critics in our lives, like bullies, or asshole parents, or stepparents, or what have you, telling us that we were worthless when we were young and it stuck. So we have to overcome that.
I'll tell you what works for me. It's not 100% successful. But it does work pretty well, and I'm using it until I find something better. I'm working on my own self-esteem, too. So, I'm right there with you on this. I do know what it's like. I'm a shy guy sometimes and will be a big old wallflower under certain circumstances. But when I force myself, and I mean force myself, I can push past that fear of rejection and fear of making a fool of myself.
One of the things I will do is simply fake it. Fake it til you make it, as they say. It does kind of work. Like I said, it doesn't work 100% of the time, but it can help. So, here's your homework:
- Walk with confidence, with your head up. Not looking at the floor or the ground.
- Look people in the eye when talking to them.
- Talk to people. Small talk with the cashier, or the bag boy, or guy installing your cable.
- Stand upright. Don't hunch over.
- Speak with confidence. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Don't be wishy-washy about it. If you are uncertain about something, admit it. But when you know something, then talk about it like you know you're an expert (just don't act like a dick about it). Don't constantly defer to someone else's opinion.
- Stick up for yourself.
- Be assertive.
- Be jovial.
- Dress professionally, or business casual.
- Admit when you're wrong.
Regarding that "be assertive" one, if someone asks you to do something and you aren't going to do it, then politely decline. If they persist. A simple "No" is enough. You don't owe explanations under most circumstances. If you need something done now, then god damn it, tell them you need it now. Don't tell them, "When you get a chance, could you...?" It's possible to be polite and be assertive, and you'll have to find that happy little middle ground yourself.
Now, all of the above, at this point, is merely an act, in a sense. You're sort of forcing yourself to make this behavioral change, which technically isn't an act, but for the sake of argument, at least in the sense of it being confident, you are acting confident. What I've noticed, after doing some of these behavioral changes on a regular basis, is that people start to view you as a confident person. When people see you as a confident person, they treat you as one, and they start to show you a different level of respect. I don't even do all of these things all of the time. I do some of them a fair amount of the time, and others on rare occasions.
Once people start treating you with a different level of respect, and they start commenting on how confident you are, you start feeling better about yourself. You'll begin to notice that walking down the street or through the mall with your head up feels natural instead of forced. Looking people in the eye is easier and you'll notice that there's really no reason to look elsewhere. Why were you afraid of their eyes, anyway? Talking to people isn't a big deal, either. Now, some people are colossal bores to talk to, but it's small talk, so it's over quickly, and you move on. It's practice, though, and it will help you in talking to other people who make you nervous. Job interviews? Dates? It all starts to become easier.
The added benefit of this is that you just fucking start to feel better about yourself. No one is perfect. You're probably comparing yourself to your peers, based on their overly sensationalized Facebook status updates, which only detail the highlights of their lives, not the shit-tastic moments. Don't compare yourself to other people. You're you. There is no other you. You have what you have to offer, and no one else does.
Now, just promise me one thing: Now that you're super awesome. Please do not turn into one of those assholes who is full of himself because I will fucking have to knock you down a peg.