Pastor Kevin Sanders

"He must increase, but I must decrease." -John 3:30

Learning the Hard Way: High IQ; Low Self-Esteem

A young woman’s story of hurt and healing:

“Any man would be so fortunate to have you in his life. If I were a man, I would pursue you relentlessly.”

This is exactly why I love my best friend. She never fails to make me feel extraordinary. Her words may come across as prejudiced as a result of our twelve-year friendship—but really; no one can fault her for pointing out the truth as she sees it. She could very well be right. Any man would be fortunate to have me in his life. Sadly, I never believed any of it three years ago.

It was the first term of my sophomore year in Graduate School when I first met “John.” We were classmates in two subjects, but I never really noticed him. He was no more than a face behind the name off a class list. And I was just too darn blasé to make any conscious effort to mingle. To me, that time, he was just another student who belonged in a social circle so different from mine – which meant zero chance for any interaction outside class.

Or at least that’s what I thought before “John” refuted this with an unexpected text message a couple of weeks into the term. That lone text message proved to be a very effective conversation starter. Not too long after the initial exchange of messages, I found myself a new friend.

And “John” was the perfect guy friend. He seemed like this rare mixture of an indulgent father, a doting mother, an overprotective brother, a gallant gentleman, and a trusty confidant. He looked after me, pampered me a bit too much, and he made me laugh like no one ever had. In a span of a month, he had become my male best friend.

But as much as I want to maintain that our friendship was purely platonic, I am quite certain it never was. For months, we both willingly trod along that dangerously fine line between friendship and a romantic attraction. Eventually, we broke that cardinal rule of a guy/girl friendship – we crossed the line. Instead of a happily-ever-after ending, the opposite happened. Everything just went loco from that point on.

It was the quintessential case of M.U. (not mutual understanding but malabong usapan). We went out on dates, shared the most intimate details of our lives with one another, talked about our future together, and even dared to utter the word “love”. All these without one very important detail: a commitment.

I was not happy with our arrangement. Just like any other woman, I wanted the assurance of a committed relationship. But I settled, nonetheless. I settled for what he could give me. I justified his inability to commit to somehow comfort myself. I had to content myself with assumptions to pacify the questions in my head.

I am a smart person. I have an IQ level worthy of MENSA. But those days, my sense of logic was bordering on idiotic.

“Maybe he just had deep-rooted issues which he had to resolve first on his own…”
“Maybe he just needed time to recover from his last relationship…”
“Maybe he would eventually come around and realize he wants me to belong to him in every way…”

I completely abandoned all reason and willed myself to believe those words. I clung tightly to each tiny flicker of hope those thoughts offered me. For as long as I could, I ignored all the glaring red flags which screamed: Get Out. Fast.

As if those were not enough, I compromised my standards, my values, and my self-respect. I stripped myself off of what little self-worth I had and stooped down to his level. Never mind that he was a 30 year old bum who still lived off his parents’ money, or had a year-long affair with a married woman and even cohabitated with his past girlfriends, or the fact that we never really shared the same beliefs, intelligence level, and social status. Never mind that he was far from the ideal man I have always had in my mind or that never in a million years will my family ever approve of him. I gladly overlooked those and thought to myself that I was just so darn fortunate to have a man, any man, take interest in me.

So for months, I did everything and anything to please him. I changed my lifestyle to suit his. I adjusted my schedule to accommodate him. I blatantly lied to my parents, cut my classes, and ditched my closest friends just to spend time with him. In a way, I changed myself to be this one person he would commit to and want in his life.

Still, he did not.

Finally, the whole non-commitment issue took its toll on me. It hit me. He didn’t really love. If he did, he would have not made me feel tired, restless, and unsettled by keeping me suspended in mid-air and always second guessing our status. So I ended it.

The next four months were barely manageable. I was beyond hurt. I was angry, bitter, and cynical. And as if fate was bent on torturing me some more, his best friend told me the single most upsetting news — “John” had gotten someone pregnant (the girl in his life before me. the one I didn’t know about) and married her. Hearing that piece of news, it felt as if someone sliced up my old wounds and poured acid over them. It didn’t just sting, it felt numb. I despised him for my pain but I hated myself even more. I thought it was my fault why he didn’t choose me. Maybe I was too difficult to love or maybe not pretty, smart, and nice enough for him. I figured, I simply was not good enough for him. In a snap, I was reduced to my old self – the self-hating, insecure, and pitiful me.

Here’s the thing you have to understand about me: I had a miserable childhood. I was a fat, dark, ugly kid who had to live with perfect strangers calling me nasty names and classmates ostracizing me. But what really left me emotionally broken was hearing harsh words from my family which reinforced other people’s perception of me. I grew up having little faith in who I was, what I was capable of, and what I had to offer. I have always thought I was never good enough for anyone.

The damage to my self-esteem was just so severe that I never truly loved myself. I may have undergone my own version of the evolution and turned my social world around (from being the object of ridicule, I became the antagonizing, mean girl) but emotionally, I was stuck in the past. I was still an empty shell.

Then “John” came. I started hoping that he was that person who will excise the demons of my past and prove to me that I was worthy of anyone’s love. But what happened was the exact opposite. He reaffirmed my insecurities a million times over and that left me utterly shattered.
Months passed and after every last bit of hatred and bitternes subsided, one thing became clear to me – I did this to myself. Yes, he was not entirely blameless for what transpired but I have to admit, I was a willing victim. I gave him that much power to cause me pain. I allowed him to do that much damage to me. I opened up myself too quickly and laid my heart on the line. That was my mistake.

Pulling myself together was a long and tedious process. I never thought I would be able to go through it virtually unscathed but I did – with a lot of help from another newfound friend: HIM. He showed me that behind every tear, pain, and disappointment lies some of the most priceless lessons in life. Yes, I believe that pain is an imperative part of the learning process. He allows this not because He is some sadist who finds pleasure in seeing us crushed with grief. Rather, He lets us experience pain to mold us into the people He intended us to be.

Coming to terms with my flawed self was another thing. I struggled to be vigilant about fighting the demons of my past. I have lived 24 years loathing myself, I thought it was too late to learn how to love myself. But then again, He proved me wrong. This much I know now – He deliberately created us with imperfections because that’s where our real beauty lies. It’s because of these imperfections that we all learn to lean on Him – we ask for His grace, we draw strength from Him, and we realize that we need Him. It is because we are greatly flawed that we are deeply loved by Him.

So going back to what my best friend said: she was right. Any guy would be so fortunate to have me in his life. After all, I am worth a lot. Much, much more than what I initially allowed myself to have. His great love is the ultimate affirmation of that.

Kuya Kevin’s Comments:

Based on the quality of your writing, I believe you are a very intelligent young woman. I’ve read your story many times since you first submitted it.

First and foremost, I want to say I’m sorry. I’m so sorry to hear about what happened to you during your childhood. This part of your story weighed heavily on my heart.

Next, I want to thank you for sharing this testimony. I know that you’ve done this in order to minister to other hurting people.

Your story brings out a very important point: when we are hurt in those vulnerable childhood years, it can have long-lasting consequences. It can negatively affect our ability to make wise relationship decisions. Now that you are more aware of this vulnerability, please be extra careful in your future relationship choices.

I’m happy to hear that you have met Jesus. He is the ultimate Healer! Keep following Him and you will not be disappointed.

God Bless You,
Kuya Kevin

This is one of the stories you can find in Learning the Hard Way: True Stories of Heartbreak, Healing, and Hope.


  1. It’s quite surprising to see my story so “exposed”. I mean that in a good way. 🙂

    I just have to write this comment to clarify one thing- i love my family dearly and i know that they may have their shortcomings but i am quite positive they never wanted to hurt me. You see, i’m from a family of overachievers (if you think i’m smart, wait til you meet my sibs) and my parents have always expected a lot from us. And when i was younger, i always fell short of their expectations. They pushed me too hard, to the extent they’ve started comparing me to my other sibs. And that made me feel like some second class citizen in the family. But again, my parents didn’t know about my issues then. I know the last thing they’ve wanted was to deliberately hurt me.

    And my sibs, well, i am the youngest one and they’ve always seen me as the typical spoiled brat, so the feeling of jealousy was quite strong. They lashed out at me probably because they resented my position in the family hierarchy. But again, just like with my parents, i’m sure they didn’t mean any harm. They didn’t know any better.

    I have a great family. And i know they do love me. What happened in the past, whatever harsh words they’ve uttered to me, i know it wasn’t intentional. I was just so insecure that every word, even if it was said in jest, i took to heart.

    Just want to clarify that bit. Last thing i want is for my family to be misunderstood. They mean a great deal to me and it’ll hurt me beyond words if other people would think badly of them.

    Anyways, thanks kuya kevin for posting this. And thanks for the kind words. Very much appreciated. 🙂

    And yes, i know a LOT better now to make the same mistakes. Besides, i can never go wrong with such great man guiding me every step of the way. 🙂

  2. High IQ,
    I’ve slightly adjusted the wording in one paragraph after seeing your clarification.


  3. Dear Ms.High IQ,

    Here’s a reader praying for your healing believing in faith that God will send you the man you deserve. I’m sure you’ve heard the song-He makes all things beautiful, in His time.

    I’m sorry about those harsh words from childhood that left scars.
    I am the NBSB (no boyfriend since birth) case. Reading your letter makes me really think twice, thrice about committing, also to be more conscious about playing favorites in class. I can be guilty of that-

    God bless you beyond your expectations 🙂

  4. Brooding over what you wrote, I can quite identify with that part about family. I’m from a big family of six. My two older sisters have porcelain skin, pointed noses, deep set brown eyes. In local lingo, they are mestizas. They took after my mother whose great grandfather is British. They also went to private schools, I on the other hand never experienced studying in one.

    I was born with reddish skin covering a long-torsoed body, hairy, with a small round nose and chinky-eyed. I took after my father who is partly Chinese.

    Good thing I met Jesus early on. Looking back, my sisters never ran out of criticisms for actors or actresses who were not beautiful, that is, mestiza enough like them. You would wonder what kind of mindset these comments would imprint on a little child.
    Just like you, I love my family dearly, second to God and with all the flaws, I would not want to trade places with anyone.

    We do take care of our physical appearance but in the end, we will all be skeletons as Helen of Troy became. Its amazing how God looks at us and values us despite physical appearances. It is this love I received from Him which affirms me of my true worth as a person.

    Thank you for sharing!

  5. Dear Ms.High IQ,

    Here’s a reader praying for your healing believing in faith that God will send you the man you deserve. I’m sure you’ve heard the song-He makes all things beautiful, in His time.

    I’m sorry about those harsh words from childhood that left scars.
    I am the NBSB (no boyfriend since birth) case. Reading your letter makes me really think twice, thrice about committing, also to be more conscious about playing favorites in class. I can be guilty of that-

    God bless you beyond your expectations 🙂
    Thank you for the prayers. I’m touched beyond words.

    And exposing such painful past in a very public medium (like this one) is well-worth the risk it entails, if it means being able to reach out to perfect strangers and telling them about His great love.

    Yes, I know He has grand plans for me. I am banking on that promise of His. And I am quite certain He will never fail me. 🙂

    God bless you, too!

    – By the way, I don’t feel comfortable being called Ms. High IQ. For some reason, it feels a tad too pompous. That’s just me. 🙂

  6. Its amazing how God looks at us and values us despite physical appearances. It is this love I received from Him which affirms me of my true worth as a person.
    Touché! 🙂

    Everyday, I just feel so thankful for this love. Overwhelming is such an understatement, it just won’t do my feelings justice everytime He reaffirms His love for me.

    Sharing this story, even if it meant evoking feelings of past hurt and pain, helped me realize how His love can do wonders, if we just let Him. It is such an amazing gift to be loved THAT much by such wonderful man. We don’t need to correlate our self-worth with the love we’re getting from other people, nor with the material things we surround ourselves with. The outpouring of His great love is more than the affirmation that we need. People just have to realize that. 🙂

  7. wow, that story touched. I can relate at some point, the part of having low self-esteem (i think we all do at times) and being in a wheelchair (yes I am but I’m nto bitter about it cuz of the Lord) doubles it but may I say that GOD CAN MAKE THE VERY BIGGEST DIFF’RENCE!

    He was fortunate to have you, every man should feel fortunate to have a good woman loving him. I tell myself this…

    So chin up miss anonymous.

  8. oh, i thought i was reading some story from unknown book and was posted in here to share 🙂

    nice story, so much to learn from it, thanks for sharing..

  9. Thess, thank you for the kind words. I appreciate those. 🙂

    Knowing about your situation (the wheelchair bit), i feel like my concerns then were so trivial. That was another mistake. I wallowed in my misery instead of focusing on the blessings (the latter definitely outweighed the former). So i suppose, some of the scars were self-inflicted. I was too focused on my sorry self that I inadvertently nurtured and fed my insecurities.

    Well, just another realization. 🙂

    It’s quite refreshing to talk so openly about my not-so-great past and discover that whatever emotional scars i’ve from my past, those don’t hurt anymore. Just a poignant reminder of how much things have changed when He came in my life.

    I always tell my closest friends this- He is just so AMAZING, it’s overwhelming. 🙂

    – E

  10. oh, i thought i was reading some story from unknown book and was posted in here to share 🙂

    Wow, gee, thanks. I’ve always had a penchant for writing so what you said means a great deal to me. 🙂

    Hmmm.. So maybe i should start writing my book, then? Haha! A girl can dream, can’t she? ;p

    And it’s my pleasure to share. Should be the one thanking you girls for reading a not-so-short entry. So, thanks.

    – E

  11. thanks for sharing your story. been there. i might have been among those high iq, low self-esteem people. hehe. a few years back, i met a man whom i thought loved me. or maybe he did. he tried to help me see myself differently, showing me all the beauty in me he saw that i couldn’t. in the end, the ugliness of my insecurities drove him away, for good. the road out of pain was a long, hard almost impossible journey, but if losing him meant finding God, and seeing myself as God sees me, then it was so worth it.

  12. live free, you sound SO just like me =) carry on, carry on! hope we’ll learn to be wise.

  13. Can u write about melancholy and suicide link to the Bible?
    I desperaterly need it.

  14. Email me and I’ll do my best to help you.

  15. alessa_sinclair

    12/20/2008 at 1:33 am

    Ouch. That’s the same story as mine… Except that the guy I fell for was smart, same age, and really hardworking. And that I’m the NBSB type, too. But the difference between us is that I don’t really believe in miracles. On the bright side, I personally think you’re on the road to recovery. Good for you.:)

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