The Trouble With Self-Esteem in “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao”

Do you ever think to yourself if you are good enough? A lot of people struggle with their self esteem, especially adolescents. In Junot Díaz’s book, The Brief Wondrous life of Oscar Wao, the book revolves around Oscar Wao, a young man who desperately struggles with his image, confidence, and self esteem. Self-esteem is not something that someone is born with. It is something that is acquired over time. Having low self-confidence at such a young age can create a lot of problems which can include depression, bad eating habits and even worse suicide.

A couple ways that can ultimately help teens improve their self esteem are managing their inner critic, focusing on their strengths, and setting realistic goals.

Having good self-esteem as a child is important. It is what shapes you as a teen and adult. Children with low self esteem can grow up to be teenagers that suffer from anxiety and depression. How one feels about themselves can affect their entire out view on life.

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People with high self esteem are ultimately more confident and can accomplish more knowing that they think highly of themselves.. A couple things that can have a negative effect on a teens self esteem are bullying, abuse, poverty, and self-image. Ultimately the biggest factors that can shape adolescents self esteem are the parents, family and friends. When someone is close to you they have a big influence on you. It is crucial that the people that are close to you have a positive mindset and influence you in a good way.

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Self love, confidence, and respect all play into our self esteem. It is how we define ourselves and how we view ourselves. Self esteem is something that many teens struggle with. Teens struggle with self image issues because of many different outlets like media, but it ultimately comes down to yourself to change your perspective in a positive way. One way that can help teens change their perspective on themselves is if they manage their inner critic. Adolescents tend to compare themselves to impossible standards set by the media and entertainment. Teens should try to not be so hard on themselves and focus on the positive things instead of comparing themselves, which only brings negative thoughts to your head. In the article, How can I improve my self-esteem, the writer mentions that, “If you’re in the habit of thinking self-critically, re-train yourself by rewording these negative unkind thoughts into more helpful feedback.”(Lyness 2015). I think that if you re-train your thoughts it can be very helpful because self criticizing yourself can affect your self esteem. If you are always thinking negatively about yourself you are not respecting or loving yourself which is a big part of having a good self esteem.

Correspondingly, focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses is another way that teens can improve their self esteem. A lot of teens like to compare their weaknesses to those that excel at what they lack in. According to a website some advice would be, “Figure out your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t beat yourself up over your weaknesses. Don’t compare yourself to others. It’s hard at times, but accept yourself.” (Brown). It is hard not to compare yourself to others, but I think that you have to remember to accept yourself. Accepting yourself for who you are is the first step to loving yourself. If you focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses you will help boost your self confidence. When you focus on building up your strengths you can be happy knowing that you are succeeding at what you do best, instead of focusing on what you are not so good at.

Similarly, another way that teens can improve self esteem is to set realistic goals. Set goals that you can accomplish and that are attainable. For example, if you are trying to lose weight and you say that you want to have a body like Megan Fox, the goal is attainable but it will also not happen just like that. You have to set a goal that is more realistic like, I will lose 10 pounds in a month or I will exercise 3 times a week to lose weight. Setting realistic goals and achieving them will make you feel better about yourself once you have accomplished them. Teens Health from Neumors mentioned, “Think about what you’d like to accomplish. Then make a plan for how to do it. Stick with your plan, and keep track of your progress.”(Lyness 2015). In my personal opinion, I think that this is a great way to help with improving self esteem. I used to set unrealistic goals for myself when was around seventeen. I used to say that I wanted to look like Jennifer Lopez, but it was always unrealistic because it would take a long time. Then I started making plans for myself like I will go to the gym at least 3 times a week, and that I would try to eat healthier. After I accomplished each goal I would feel satisfied with myself.

Although all these things can help teens improve self esteem, there is another factor that contributes to it. Growing up around loved ones like parents, and siblings is a big part of how our self esteem is formed. If you are raised in an environment where love and care are administered profoundly than you are more likely to have good self esteem. Contrary if you are raised in an environment where nurturing is not enforced your self esteem can be widely affected. Christopher Murk did research on this and wrote in his book that, “As young children we rely heavily on external means to confirm our self-worth and competence. We look to significant people in our lives (parents, grandparents, teachers, etc.) to show us that we are loved and approved…”(Murk 14). I think that this is very true from personal experience. I grew up in a household where love and affection was not always shown. My parents are Mexican and were never very affectionate to my siblings and I. I never heard an “ I love you” or a “You are beautiful”, unless it was on special occasions like birthdays if I was lucky. I also never got a kiss or even a hug. Not having a lot of love or affection affected my self esteem tremendously. I used to wonder if I was good enough for my parents and if I was loved. Now I am not and affectionate person at all and I do not like showing any emotion, but if I have kids one day I will be sure to show them all the affection and love that I can.

All things considered focusing on your goals, strengths and being less critical on yourself can help you build you self esteem. It will be hard at first, but it is attainable. Self confidence and love are things that are important in reaching a positive self outlook on yourself. Without self respect you will always doubt yourself. Positive thoughts about yourself can help you build up your self esteem, which will contribute to a positive life.

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The Trouble With Self-Esteem in “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao”. (2021, Dec 02). Retrieved from

The Trouble With Self-Esteem in “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao”

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