Katy has written us a post that on the surface, is about self-confidence.  But really, it’s about much more than that…it’s about accepting who you are, about letting someone else love you and what that can bring to your life, about letting yourself believe that you are more than you see in yourself.    Some people are born with a sense of self-worth.  Some people have to work just a little harder to find it, and Katy found hers from the love of her life.  This is her story:


Like a lot of people who read this blog… No, like a lot of people in general life. Like nearly every person you pass on the street, probably, didn’t have the easiest time at school. Kids can be mean, society can be mean. Anything can make you feel like you don’t fit in. Everything you see around you can make you feel too ugly, or fat, or weird or unpopular.

Nearly every girl I know has carried some negative feelings about themselves from school. Maybe lots of boys too, who knows? And that includes me.

I’m not sure I can blame it entirely on school, that’s a bit unfair. I wasn’t exactly bullied; I just always knew I was never kind of in the popular crew. And my defence was always that I didn’t care, that I wanted to be myself and that’s all that mattered. Which is true, but doesn’t stop the negativity seeping in to your mind and slowly chipping away at your self-confidence.

For years I was confident in a lot of things, like my intellectual ability or my few good friendships, but not at all confident in myself as a woman, as pretty or desirable. Maybe people are saying right now that you shouldn’t need to feel pretty and desirable if you know you are clever and strong? To those people I say, maybe you’re right. But I don’t think so.

So after that depressing introduction this is probably not where you thought this post would go.

Six years ago I was an eighteen year old who wanted so much to go away to uni but badly didn’t want to leave home. I was a girl who’d achieved good A Levels and a wide range of extra curriculars but who had never had a boyfriend, never been kissed, and wasn’t sure anyone would ever want to.

That’s why when I first met Dan I was a bit taken aback. I still to this day don’t really understand why he was interested in me and not my very pretty new friends and flatmates. Like many students, I’m sure, our first meeting was at a party organised by our halls of residence. The outcome was a fairly scummy club and lots of very drunk teenagers. I enjoyed the attention and assumed it wouldn’t amount to anything.

But it did (obviously, you know how this story ends after all). We both engineered ‘bumping into each other’ on occasion. My laptop broke, giving me the perfect excuse to catch up on some iPlayer at his. We quickly became an item.

And this stage is what I really wanted to talk about. Slowly, oh so slowly, he chipped into me. He told me with his actions that he wanted to be with me. By wanting me and not all the others he told me I was desirable. He told me straight to my face that I should stop wearing baggy hoodies all the time and have some self-confidence, that to him I was beautiful.

He has told me nearly every day for 6 years that I am beautiful and gorgeous. About a month in he told me that it feels warmer and brighter when I’m with him. About 6 months in he told me he loved me. About a year in he told me no-one has ever cared about him and been as nice to him as I was.

Even now we are married I get worried he won’t find me attractive anymore. Sometimes it’s still hard to make myself vulnerable, to be completely bare and open and trust that he’ll still love me.

But I think every time he has said something lovely I have started believing him just a tiny bit. And every kind and complimentary thing he has said to me over 6 years has built up and built up until I feel beautiful, and desirable, and sexy, and good.

Sometimes I feel like Dan has allowed me to build up this shield of love and self-confidence around myself. Every time he adds a tiny little brick to my wall by saying something, a throwaway comment of love, and strengthening it. I feel stronger, more confident, more worthy of love. I feel cocooned inside, safe from any potential negativity.

I don’t want you to think this is the best way for it to work. Wouldn’t it be better if we could just all be confident? And not feel like we have to be a certain way? And certainly the best way is not to rely on another person for your self-confidence. To not feel judged for our looks, or shape, or height or weight. To just be girls, and then women.

But that’s not how it is. Or not how it is for me.

I am so so immeasurably glad that I have let these words and actions infiltrate me. It’s too easy to brush it off, to think they are meaningless.

What I mean to say, what my message is here, really, is this:  let yourself listen to the good things. Believe them a tiny bit. When people tell you how amazing you are, how funny and kind and clever and beautiful, don’t automatically say “oh, no”.

Ladies of AOW, I’ve seen you on twitter and in the comment sections of this blog. We’re not an overly confident bunch and sometimes we need encouragement. We’re all so willing to give it to others – why not let yourself receive it?


Categories: Body Image, Life Experience
4 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted April 16, 2014 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Some of us also dont hear the nice things nearly often enough.
    I know my husband loves me, but its something I have to know intellectually, because he doesn’t tell me. I have to trust that he loves me, and isn’t just wanting sex that I happen to be there for.
    I ask and ask, but I dont know when he last *told* me he found me attractive, without me breaking down in tears about being ugly. He doesn’t think of these things.
    And so its really hard to hold on to trust and self belief. When I still have these things in my history, moments of being put down, feelings of being not-enough, or too-much.
    Having gone through a pregnancy that damaged my body more than I had ever imagined, I need him more than ever to tell me these things, because I had only just started believing them when I fell pregnant. And I dont believe them anymore.

    • ChirstyMac
      Posted April 16, 2014 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      Totally feel for you Bc.

      So many of us battle against an external locus of self-esteem: we just can’t seem to find it for ourselves and need to hear it from others. Usually our nearest and dearest, which does put a huge pressure on them if they ‘aren’t that kind of person’.

      Or, I hate to say it but, our men.

      I know my bloke does love me, and I’m pretty sure he finds me attractive some / most of the time. He tells me I’m beautiful sometimes, and I try and hear it. But it is tough to offset it against the usual caveat that comes with it: you’re beautiful but… not very ladylike / girly / feminine.

      I laugh it off as it’s intended and try my best not to add it to the ‘why I’m crap’ mental list. Not that easy though: I am that kind of person.

      Katy, I love your story. Yes, I wish for you that it was as easy as seeing your own beauty straight off the bat, but I love that you are in a partnership that has helped you find this and begin to really believe it too. X

    • Mira
      Posted April 16, 2014 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

      I can empathise. My husband doesn’t tell me these things either, but it’s evident in his behaviour and the little things he does for me that he loves me and finds me attractive. It’s just not in his nature to express it verbally, whereas I really like to.

      I suffer from terrible bouts of low self-confidence and self-esteem. He helps me get out of that state of mind with just a hug. It reminds me that I’m creating these problems myself by taking me out of my head for a bit. If that makes sense…

  2. Posted April 17, 2014 at 12:27 am | Permalink

    This post seriously could have been written by me. I have always had self confidence issues and it seems, if anything to be getting worse, not better as I get older. I’m terrible at receiving compliments, my standard response is ‘shut up’ because I assume whoever is complimenting me can’t *possibly* mean it. In fact I’m having to really struggle to stop my terrible self esteem from ruining my current relationship (he doesn’t really like me! He’s only seeing me to be polite! He is just putting up with me until someone better comes along!) My friends’ favourite response is ‘Anita, he’s not Mother f&*king Theresa. If he’s with you, it’s because he wants to be’…

    Great post Katy and wishing you and Dan many more years of happiness….

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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