Positivity is the best policy

Published 11:27 am Thursday, December 14, 2017

I’ve always been passionate about positivity, especially when it comes to examining a person’s self-worth and self-esteem. I’m a firm believer in lifting people up instead of tearing them down, and I think it’s very important to surround yourself with positive people who will support you.

This has been at the forefront of my mind since elementary school when a friend of mine told me she was on a diet. She was by no means obese, so there didn’t seem to be any health reason to lose weight. She had simply been told—by whom I never found out—she needed to be skinnier. The idea absolutely baffled me, because in my eyes, she didn’t need to make herself miserable in order to change when there was no reason to. So in response, I told her she was fine just the way she was, but unfortunately I don’t think my words had much impact on her body image. We only had that conversation once.

As I grew up, I’ve continued to observe how this kind of negative perception persists everywhere, but it’s prevalent most particularly with younger girls. It’s not only a focus on seeing their bodies in a negative way, but also a lack of confidence in their ability to succeed. Everywhere I turn there seems to be someone out there saying, “I will never look as good as these other people” or “nothing I do will ever live up to those people’s accomplishments” or “others are perfect and I never will be. I’m awful.”

These aren’t exact quotes, but they aren’t exaggerations either. Whether it’s a face-to-face conversation or what my friends on Facebook and Twitter are saying, the lack of confidence and self-esteem is evident. The comparisons to others who are seemingly “better” are rampant.

Negativity is like a parasite which clings to people. It weighs them down, makes them hunch over until they can only look down and not forward anymore.

I consider myself lucky that I’ve had kind people in my life over the years who have been positive influences on me. They encouraged me to pursue the things I was interested in, to keep improving the skills I have, and to not worry so much about what other people think about me. When I doubt myself, they are quick to point to positives instead.

I would have never pursued writing, for example, if I hadn’t been told over and over again for years by family, teachers, friends, and strangers that I was actually not half bad at it.

One negative comment can easily make my confidence waver and make me question myself, but I’ve got a foundation of support built up over the years to fall back on. Every compliment I’ve ever received, every kind word someone has said, is like a raft to rest on as I float through life.

I want everyone to have that kind of support.

There is a lot of anger and sadness and general awfulness in the world, but my hope is that we can fight back against negativity even just a little bit. It’s not just young women who have a lack of confidence in themselves, though they certainly seem to be the group who needs to hear encouragement the most.

If you don’t have a New Year’s resolution picked out yet, try this one: be supportive, encouraging, and positive to the people around you.

And if you’re one of those people who feel like they’ll never be “good enough,” try listening to people who support you and focus on blocking out the weight of negativity.

One compliment or one conversation may not change someone’s outlook on life, but it’s somewhere to start. Let the positivity flow like an unstoppable flood washing away any doubts.


Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com or by phone at 252-332-7206.