How to Manage Society’s Expectations Without Losing Yourself


For the longest time, I was so insecure about my appearance. I felt like there was always something wrong in me that I wanted to fix. My big nose, for example, it drove me crazy how all the girls in the class have the perfect nose and other facial features – except me.

My self-esteem was so low that I kept telling my mother that I’d have plastic surgery one day just to look prettier.

Looking back, I wish I could be kinder to myself and not beat myself up too much. But it’s safe to say that I’m also not alone in wanting to look “perfect”.

A study shows that most women in America (71%) feel more pressure to be physically attractive. It’s either a lighter skin or skinnier body — most of us have this false belief that once we fix it, we’d feel enough. 

But I’ve known many women who’ve done plastic surgery that is still deeply insecure. Their number one solution? Keep fixing those flaws. While I don’t go against those who have plastic surgery, I also think we need to learn how to manage society’s expectations and feel secure with who we are.

The importance of setting healthy boundaries

Setting healthy boundaries can be challenging at first. To get you started, a clinical psychologist & mental health expert, Dr. Kristen Casey, recommends focusing on your need and taking note of your triggers.

“Boundaries can come in all shapes and sizes depending on your needs. Some women like to limit their screen time or follow certain accounts that are triggering. Some women have secondary social media accounts to only follow certain creators that bring them joy.“

It’s no surprise that social media plays a huge role in how we see ourselves. Every time I spend too much time scrolling on Instagram, I always notice this urge to change my look based on what I just saw.

This usually leads to buying new products and convincing myself that they’ll make me look more beautiful. If you’ve been doing this same mistake, you’ll also know that there’s no such thing as a life-changing product.

Makeup can help you look prettier from the outside but it doesn’t necessarily make the insecurity go away. Too many times it makes you feel worse because now you can’t go out without feeling the need to put on makeup. 

That’s why stopping yourself from consuming too much online can be the right step to feeling secure. When you set healthy boundaries and actually stick to them, you’ll gain more confidence and respect for yourself.

Different ways how you can improve your self-esteem

When you have low self-esteem, it’s easier to fall into the comparison game. So in order to avoid it, you need to feel truly content with who you’re.

Here are some practical tips on how to improve your self-esteem that I still use to this day:

  • Create a habit of writing down your beliefs and questioning them. Most times, they’re nothing but false beliefs that society wants you to follow.
  • Manage your expectations especially when it comes to social media. Stop beating yourself up and aiming for perfection every time you want to post something that shows your looks.
  • You’ll never feel enough when you keep comparing yourself to others. The truth is, there’s always someone out there who’s prettier, smarter, and more good-looking. So take yourself out of the game.
  • Pick a new hobby every now and then. This way you won’t have time to feel sorry for yourself. Instead, you’re taking responsibility for your own emotions.
  • See the good in people and practice it as often as possible. Instead of feeling envy when you see someone’s beauty, give a compliment and appreciate them.
  • Keep a reminder whether it’s on your phone or wall room. This might sound cringy at first but the purpose of this is to let the words sink in so that by the time insecurity creeps in, it wouldn’t impact you that much anymore.

Dr. Kristen also adds, “It’s helpful to realize that social media isn’t a natural experience. People post their good moments, with filters, and captions that may not accurately depict how the person actually feels.”

How to feel enough — regardless of how many flaws you have

Many women think you’ll never feel enough unless you remove those flaws within you. I’ve had some girlfriends who say they’ll only feel enough when they have that perfect summer body.

But isn’t it worth it to be that hard on yourself?

Feeling enough about who you’re and how you look should come from within. Because if you measure your worth based on society’s standard, you’ll be the one who suffers.

To feel enough means to accept who you’re. It’s also to appreciate what’s working rather than complaining about why certain features in your body don’t look “perfect”.

You can always improve it for the better by working out and having a healthy diet but it’s crucial to build a secure relationship with yourself first.


It’s still very much possible to learn how to be yourself and be content with what you have. The thing about following society’s expectations is that it’s an endless cycle.

You can never feel enough because you’re doing it for other people. I needed to learn this lesson the hard way. It wasn’t an easy process. You can be in your 60s and still learning how to be confident — and that’s OK.

What matters is how to live on your own terms. Many people have given up that power just to please others. Don’t let it be you.

Anggun Bawinur is a mental health and relationships writer from Vancouver, Canada. She loves hiking and bullet journaling in her free time.

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