Question 67: Characters with low self-esteem

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RipplingReader asks: Do you have any tips on how to write a character with low self-esteem? I could really use some tips.

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LilacLunaWrites asks: What about writing emotional pain? Like depression? Or low self-esteem? I'm trying to write a character who on the outside is super bubbly and is used to insults, but later turns depressed on the inside. She even has a little demon voice in her head telling her bad things. Problem is, I don't know how to write this without making it boring, or matter-of-factly.

A great answer was provided by thatonechicc:

Every person with low self esteem is different, so one thing cannot be said to describe all of them as a whole. Most common things in people with low self esteem is that they tend to hide themselves away, either by hiding behind their bangs, hiding behind baggy clothing, or just hunching over to make themselves appear smaller because they aren't confident or comfortable with their appearance or something alike.

Another thing is, people with low self esteem don't often talk about what is on their mind, believing that their opinion doesn't matter or they would just get ignored, so they tend to stay quiet, either with friends or family, and when they are called on they tend to get embarrassed and brush the attention off from them by saying that they don't really know about what to say to the current topic.

Another thing is they don't really believe in what people tell them when getting compliments. Low self esteem people tend to have poor image of themselves, so they don't really know how to deal with compliments all that well so they tend to get embarrassed, become uncomfortable, or just shy away from it. They don't really believe it, believing that they are making fun of them and such. Oh you think I'm pretty? Yeah, right, okay, why though? Kind of like that. They also believe that people only are friends with them because they feel sorry for them, because they also don't believe that they are good enough or interesting enough to be friends with. Same things when it comes to relationships. Thinking that they are easily replaceable. They seem depressed, but not really, they just lack the confidence in doing things that others can do.

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Thank you, thatonechick! As a person with esteem issues, I can agree with most of that. Now, to address LilacLunaWrites's question about how to write all that without it sounding dry...

The struggle is the key. No one wants to feel "less than". We hear things, and we know we should believe them, but... we just don't. Or we think it's an exaggeration. Good things get downplayed. Logic fights with emotion all the time. When you write about that inner struggle, it won't be boring.

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