Dear Harlan: I feel like I’m repulsive and have a hard time talking to people. This is something I’ve struggled with for a long time. I’ve tried to feel better about myself, but it never works. I can’t seem to change this. I’m 18 years old. I don’t know how to stop feeling this way. Any suggestions?
— Not Good Enough
Dear Not Good Enough: Did you ever consider that you don’t want to feel beautiful? If you felt beautiful and interesting, your entire world would shift. People would find you easier to be around. You would interact with more people. Connecting with others would be less complicated. You might even decide to form close friendships or intimate relationships. This would make you even more exposed to getting hurt. Bringing people into your life and getting close is scary. It’s so much easier to reject yourself and never allow anyone else to get close enough to hurt you. Labeling yourself as repulsive might be safer than believing what is true. The real truth is that you are a beautiful person who is capable of loving and being loved. You have an enormous amount of value. You were born beautiful. It’s still there. You just have to give yourself permission to see it. I know it’s in there. The people who love you know it’s there too. Instead of focusing on feeling repulsive, focus on why it is so important to feel this way. Find a therapist who can help you explore why you think this way and how to change it. Lean on someone you can trust. As you go through this process, you will see what I and so many other people see — that you are a beautiful person who is deserving of everything you hope and desire.