• Tessa Fleming

How a Millennial Feminist Found Self-Esteem

Updated: Jan 30, 2018


Let Go Of That Fuck*boy


*This also applies to fuckgurlz, shitty parents, bosses, and friends.


Pick your pronoun. I’ll go with “he.” He is the emotional equivalent of junk food and you have been on a straight junk food diet. Not only that, but you’ve also only been getting crumbs and now you’re fucking starving for real love and affection.


Let him go. If he doesn’t text you back, if he hasn’t introduced you to a single one of his friends or family members after three years of dating (true story), or if you have that little voice in your stomach saying this isn’t right- let him go. It’s truly better to be single than with someone who treats you like shit. Plus, your mind will have time to focus on your goals if you’re not constantly worried about him. (Side note: I deleted Tinder and I’ve never been happier!)


Now that we’ve gotten those assholes out of the way let’s really get started.


Find Foods (and Amounts) That Work For You


Now I’m talking about actual food. Diets don’t work, at least for me. I’ve been in recovery for bulimia for almost two years. What has changed my life is finding amounts and types of food that work for me and my body. Basically I’m saying, “Your Body Is A Wonderland” and it needs to be cared for. Being present and feeling okay in your body is a huge step toward finding self-esteem. I saw a registered dietitian and asked her to show me how to eat like a normal human because I had no fucking clue.


I also recommend not talking about food in terms of calories or weighing yourself too frequently. Calories and “goal weight” are gateway drugs to self-hate.


And if you don’t have problems with food– f* you.


Own Your Mother Fucking Feelings


I have a lot of feelings. I have been taught to keep those mother fuckers down. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I had to learn how to express them. I once went to a psychic on the sidewalk of Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley, CA who told me that when I am really angry and want to say something horrible is when I should bite my tongue– but when I am silent and too scared to state my feelings is when I need to speak up.


I usually don’t take advice from white, straight dudes, but he seemed on the money with that one.


Help Others


I’m pretty selfish and self-obsessed. I honestly don’t know how I have any friends, but by simply asking someone one or two questions about themselves and even pretend listening is helpful to getting self-esteem. It gets me out of the fear/shame spiral that’s on a constant loop in my head that says, “You’re ugly, you’re definitely going to die alone, and you’re not living up to your potential.”


For the record, I suggest actively listening, but sometimes I don’t have it in me. A nod and a smile usually does the trick. Hopefully they don’t ask any follow-up questions.


Treat Yo Self


If you’re reading this you’re probably a good-ish person who hates themselves. Why? I mean, I get it, but self-loathing is so 2000-and-late. I built self-worth by taking actions that were self-loving– even when my head was telling me that I was worthless.


Things I do on the reg. to care for myself are getting 7ish hrs of sleep, drinking water, making doctor’s appointments, and exercising on the reg. My treats are baths, acupuncture, manicures, massages, and crepes with nutella & bananas. Do something nice for yourself, something you enjoy. The brain will quiet down as you start taking care of the body. It only took mine about five years of doing this shit, so in the words of Britney Spears, “Get to work, bitch!”


Keep Grinding

I’m a millennial #sorrynotsorry. We truly believe we deserve everything we want. And we want it right now including Bernie as our king)! That being said, adulting has kicked my ass. Real adults don’t give a fuck about our hopes, dreams, or our sense of entitlement.


You have to keep working towards whatever goals you have. Update your portfolio, build your app, or keep up that side hustle. Soon enough we’ll be the head bitches in charge, but we can’t give up or the non-millennials win. Well, I guess they will all die eventually. Looking forward to that! (Except my Dad.)


Make Yourself a Priority

I hate paying for therapy. I’m like, “Why? I don’t need professional help.” If you’ve read this article up to this point it’s pretty clear that I do. So I rephrase the cost in my mind as another action I can take that shows the universe that I love myself and that my mental health is a priority.

BOOM! Now you’re making a long-term investment in yourself. You’re basically a stockbroker.


Update your resume and LinkedIn profile ASAP.


Spread (and Receive) the L.O.V.E.


I texted my friend asking if I could pick her up a coffee before we met up. She said no, but I still needed some caffeine for myself, so I ran into a coffee shop. I then ran into a different friend who offered to buy my coffee! The universe rewards a generous spirit. Also, being able to accept someone loving you is essential to self-esteem.


Karma is def a bitch, but she’s fair.


Make Authentic Choices

I recently bought a faux fur cheetah jacket. If I were dressing to be most appealing to “straight guyz” I would not wear this item. It conveys the “crazy cat woman” look really well. I imagine all “straight guyz” secretly want some chick that is super nice, normal, and would rather wear a navy peacoat and a headband.


Either way, I’m wearing this jacket. It shows my true self and I’m learning to love and accept all parts of me. One way I can practice that self-acceptance is through my bold, reduckulous fashion choices. I also have a neon pink beanie that I wear, but guys love girls who wear beanies, so maybe I’ll be alright.


Let Go Of Old Ideas about Yourself

Post-grad I was full of ideas of who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do, which was be a performance artist à la Marina Abramovic and stand naked in front of an audience, which I actually did. Go me!


But there were other ideas I had to let go of, rework, or at least put on hold. I took a break from making art and it was the hardest thing I ever did. I was afraid that if I didn’t have the title “artist” to bring worth to my life I would be empty. The sad and very painful truth is that I did feel empty without that label, but I had no choice, the universe emptied me out and put me on an extra long two-year spin cycle. By letting go of how I saw myself I unconsciously (I would never put myself through growing pains on purpose) made room for new ideas, routines, and beliefs about myself, my worth, and my art.


In conclusion, follow these simple steps and you too can achieve this level of badassier: