First, let me say that these are not ramblings to me. This sounds like a very caring, sensitive person trying to find the best way to be known in the world.
There is a Cherokee legend of a grandfather teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
In the opening of your letter you say that you spend hours looking for flaws, and, no surprise, you find them. When you look and allow yourself to be satisfied with what you see there is happiness. This actually is one of the principles emerging from positive psychology. Over time research has shown you can learn to identify the good things about you and your life and savor them. More on this approach is available here.
Issues of self-esteem are often tethered to things we are avoiding. We avoid them to try to cope, but then we end up feeling bad about the fact we are not dealing with the issue, and this keeps our self-esteem low. We then feel emotionally unable to deal with the issue the next time around, so we avoid it, and the vicious cycle starts again. It seems like social situations and new people are where the rub is. An acting class for beginners will put you in with other people who are looking to grow. The other possibility might be an assertiveness training class. Most communities will offer these through non-credit continuing education courses.
We can often recognize when our true self is emerging. There is a sense of wholeness and well-being that comes with it. Pay attention to when this is occurring with you, and particularly notice the people, places and things that allow for this true self to be known.
The goal isn’t to feel good about everything and everyone, but to develop strategies for coping with the inevitable difficulties, while returning to the people, places and things that help restore our balance.
Cultivate an appreciation of who you are and your unique gifts and talents. You get to choose the wolf you feed. As you become pleased with who you are, others are likely to join in.
Wishing you patience and peace,