How I built my self-esteem

Some of you may think that it’s all nice and supportive to tell you that you’re beautiful and attractive as plus-size women, but that unless I know what it’s like to be downed by the media and society that I shouldn’t really talk about building self-esteem because I don’t know what it’s like. I wrote this article so you know my own struggles with self-esteem, and how I overcame them. Hopefully it will give you some insights that you can use in your own journey to improve how you view yourself.

Building your self-esteem can be tricky, especially when the media and people in your environment constantly pick on you and tell you that you’re not beautiful and/or attractive. And when you finally get past that stage of ‘not feeling beautiful and not feeling attractive’ (if you are able to) you find out that basing your newfound self-esteem on compliments from others isn’t really any different from having no or little self-esteem at all, in both cases external factors determine how you feel.

My childhood

I was always the tallest person in my class at school. Actually, as far as I can recall, in most cases I was the tallest person of the entire school.

Coen Naninck at the age of 6
Coen Naninck at the age of 6

When I was 19 years old I was at my peak height and I stopped growing.

Coen Naninck at the age of 22, with parents
Coen Naninck at the age of 22, with parents

I was bullied for a long time in my childhood. I didn’t deal with it very well. In fact, it made me down right miserable. Up to the point where I felt I was totally unattractive and that once I would reach the point in life where one marries and has children, there would still be no woman that would want me. I was very tall, very skinny, and – looking with hindsight – I had very low self-esteem.


At the age of 25 I was seriously ‘getting into girls’, but for me this simply meant ‘looking and thinking about them’. Not that I had not noticed them before, I guess they just didn’t really affect me in the past. I know, it’s late, especially for a guy I suppose. Then again some people meet their first love at the age of 70, and then some people never meet anyone at all.

All this time up until my 25th I was not happy with my appearance. I never took photographs of myself and I never wanted my picture taken either. Because I was not happy with my appearance, my inner self suffered as a consequence.

Unlike my self-esteem, my hormones – accumulated over the many years I suppose – were running rampant by this time. Thus, I had convinced myself to either deal with my problem of lack of self-esteem, or suffer the consequences by being alone and unhappy for the rest of my life. Of course, that was all wonderful and eye-opening, but I still wasn’t accepting myself the way I was.

At that point I got extremely uncomfortable with myself. Not only did I dislike my appearance, on top of that I couldn’t handle my inability to get out of this problem, which frustrated me to no end. It started to look like a vicious circle I had ended up in. Little did I realize that this was much – if not all – of my own doing, no where in this journey did I realize I had the power to turn it around with mere thought.

Fast forward to my 28th birthday; it was on that day that I had my first sexual experience. She was a BBW (Big Beautiful Woman). It was also only the second time in my life that I had kissed a woman. I was on a roadtrip in Oklahoma, in the United States, in the middle of the Summer. If you’re somewhat familiar with the humid weather conditions in that state, then you’re well aware it’s not exactly very romantic; the word sticky kiss gets a whole new meaning. 😉

Coen Naninck at the age of 28
Coen Naninck at the age of 28

After my US trip and back home I felt renewed. I had this overwhelming feeling of being transitioned into a higher level of consciousness; in other words, I felt like a man! Maybe this doesn’t make sense to some people, but let me tell you, if you have lived your whole life thinking that you’re an unattractive, dull and overall miserable person, then a feeling exactly the opposite of that is quite an exhilarating experience!

It was at that time that I felt – for the first time in my life – truly happy. I looked into the mirror and said “Hello!” to myself and the person looking back at me smiled.

I was now thinking “I am attractive after all!”.

Like any emotion though, in time they all fade away.

Back at square one

It was not apparent to me at first, but a couple of months after losing my virginity I realized this wasn’t the only thing I had lost; I found myself pretty much where I was before regarding my level of self-esteem (or lack thereof). The road trip had faded into the past and the demons inside my head were wreaking havoc once again!

It was at this point that I realized I had run into a trap. A trap I had set for myself really. I came to the conclusion that I had based my newfound ‘self-esteem’ on that one experience, and, that I essentially was back at square one.

True self-steem

There is an important lesson to be learned here. In order to have (true) self-esteem and to be truly happy, I felt I needed to disconnect myself from that experience. I realized that as long as I was using that experience to base my self-esteem on, that I was actually living in a memory, always clinging to that one experience, or any other one coming after it for that matter.

True self-esteem and true happiness, can only come from within. It starts with the self and it ends with the self. On so many dating sites and social networks there are these profiles from people saying things like “I want to find my other half. Are you that person?”. Isn’t that like depending on the other person to lead the way to happiness? Then some people say “Well I AM happy, but I just want to feel whole.”. Right. I may be wrong here, but I know from experience that as long as you’re not confident about the person you are outside and in, another person can not give that to you, nor should you be foolish enough to believe they can; your mileage may vary though. As far as I’m concerned, only one person is entitled to make you feel whole; you, and you alone. It is a different thing that once you have found who you really are, that you then explore new horizons with the company of another. If you then say one of the above things at least you yourself have self-esteem and you do not look for a partner to forget about not really being happy with yourself, because that’s what a lot of people do. Pursuing a relationship is a phase you should enter once you have embraced yourself. And that embracing can only happen once you stop fighting yourself!

Last updated: January 15, 2018