I used to think I did, but having met several people who really do have low self-esteem, I've now come to realise I actually have low confidence (and note I don't say low self-confidence, but more on that later), and that is a different breed of animal all together.
I was having a chat with a friend the other day about people who constantly put themselves down. If you are a participant in social media you might be aware of this kind of person. Everyone is smarter than them, prettier than them, more motivated, better organised, or has greater talent than them. It goes further, some of these people are not at all opposed to running themselves down to others with comments like, 'I'm so fat' (and not in a proud, fat acceptance way, but in a negative, self-loathing kind of way), or 'I'm stupid' or 'I'm ugly'.
Some people are just fishing for compliments, of course, but the ones who persist; the ones who simply cannot take a compliment and cannot see anything worthwhile about themselves most of the time - they really do have low self-esteem.
Unlike Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility who greatly esteemed Edward, people with low self-esteem do not 'greatly esteem' themselves. They wouldn't be, and ultimately are not, their own best friend.
I do not have low self-esteem. I really like me. I would most definitely be my own best friend because I think I'm quite funny, and very intelligent and loyal and reliable and all the things I look for in a friend. I also tend to think I'm quite attractive; not necessarily in the sense of the modern beauty, but I've never had any trouble in the attraction department (must be my eyes, right?)...
So, no low self-esteem here, but I do have low confidence. That is not to say I don't believe I can do stuff, but I'm often concerned that other people don't believe I can do stuff and that if I make even a common mistake I will prove them right.
This is wholly related to my low vision, of course. I'm tougher on myself to perform because I feel as if I have to make up for a perceived shortcoming from the perspective of others. This is the primary reason I don't put myself 'out there' into the workforce. I've been mucked around by employers who pretty much just wanted to scam Government schemes for employment entry payments for people with disabilities. I've been employed for the minimum amount of time and then without making any real mistakes I've been let go because of my 'potential for mistakes' because of my low vision or because I need to work a little slower than others because I need to be more methodical.
My confidence in employers has been knocked about and battered to the point where it just seems far less painful to not try.
My problem here is, more and more it's looking like I have to put myself back out there. I have to overcome other people's prejudice. If you believe I'm seeing a prejudice that does not exist, then please explain to me who only 15% of Australia's vision impaired people are in the workforce at all - even fewer in full time employment. Vision impaired people are not lazy.
So, yep, low confidence is what I have and now I just have to figure out how to eliminate it...
PS. Here is a somewhat unrelated cartoon, but I love Calvin and Hobbs, so I thought I would share it with you - also, I often see this attitude in society these days and I don't understand it at all!