By Younas Chaudhary
I grew up in a remote village in Pakistan with extremely low self-esteem. Due to cultural norms of that era, my parents favored their eldest son. My older brother got first preference in everything including a much better education and many perks in life. While he was sent to an elite boarding school, I had to go to a dilapidated village school. I became a victim of constant ridicule and bullying by teachers and classmates because I was the only one there dressed properly by my mother!
I cannot blame my parents for treating my brother favorably over me and I cannot blame my older brother as Pakistani society gave more importance to the eldest son in the family during that period. I had to address my brother as “Bhaijan” (elder brother) and not call him by his real name. If my father was not at home, my brother would be the head of the family and I had to respect him like a father. I found this weird, but I could not say anything against it as that was the norm.
I grew up with a low opinion of myself and this eroded my confidence until I got into an officer training program at the Pakistan Military Academy. The military training enhanced my self-esteem, however, a few months later, I was discharged, and my self-esteem plunged again.
Later, I felt immigrating to Canada would boost my low self-esteem and I could come up in life. My initial time in Edmonton was so cold at -40 degrees Fahrenheit that I was wondering why I had left Pakistan to come to such a cold place. My fingers would get numb and lifeless as I braved the freezing weather to get home after work.
The extreme weather and low-end jobs made me sad, and I cried when I was alone. However, the next morning I would talk positively to myself and wake up with confidence and think of my purpose- to make as much money as I can, help my family back home, and return to Pakistan. When I started making money and found decent jobs, my self-esteem also increased greatly.
I vividly remember how low self-esteem hurt me as a door-to-door salesman selling high end pots and pans in Slave Lake, about three hour’s drive from Edmonton. I sold nothing despite meeting people in low-end apartments and trying to convince them to buy my product. As my morale fell, I had to shift strategies and started knocking on doors of houses of higher income people. One of them felt pity seeing my struggle and he not only purchased a set but also referred me to his friends. Slowly, sales started increasing and I became the top salesman in the company!
My self-esteem and confidence grew. I realized that I should not carry the baggage of what had happened in my childhood and instead, I should shift my strategy to be happy and positive about my current life.
Over time, I rebuilt self-esteem by thinking positively and being self-motivated. I realized that self-esteem with positive reinforcement would help me overcome any challenges. I strongly feel that with a bit of positive zeal and happiness, one can become immune to negative thoughts and regain lost self-esteem. Let us work on the positive tasks starting today. Blessings!
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and readers are advised to consult other advisors as well as their own judgments in making business decisions.