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Self Esteem: The journey of self-belief is never over

The British pop star, 36, accepted an honorary doctorate at the University of Sheffield on Monday.


Self Esteem has said the journey of self-belief is “never over” as she accepted an honorary doctorate at the University of Sheffield.

The British pop star, 36, told recent graduates they had arrived at “the bottom of a new mountain” that they would constantly be climbing, but praised their commitment to their studies.

Self Esteem, real name Rebecca Lucy Taylor, was previously half of Sheffield-based folk duo Slow Club, and went solo after their split in 2017 with a sound influenced by contemporary pop.

She was awarded the honorary degree at a ceremony on Monday for her success in music and public championing of inclusivity and diversity.

In her acceptance speech, the Rotherham-born singer said she had entered an industry “where male music reigned supreme” but she never doubted she would have a successful career.

“Every patio or patch of land was a stage to me – my nanny and grandad were adoring, Wembley-sized crowds. My pogo-stick was my microphone stand,” she said.

Taylor said she originally thought Self Esteem was just “a cool artist name”, but that “over the last seven years it has been exactly what standing up for myself, staying true to myself and never compromising my vision has given me”.

She said: “Every time I wasn’t quiet just to keep the peace, every time I said no because I meant no.

“Every time I let my emotions show, every time a bloke online attacked my appearance and (I) accepted that he is just a product of his lived experience and to reply would be futile.

“Every time I remind myself I’m not difficult for being passionate about the details – I’m not a show-off, I’m a committed artist.

“Every time I allow myself to be too much, I’ve done right by that wacky, loud, bonkers, blonde little girl singing into a pogo-stick to the adoring reception of the back garden wall.”

Taylor added that despite her outlook, after being told she was to receive the honorary doctorate she had believed she did not deserve it as she “wasn’t Beyonce or Michelle Obama”.

“This morning when I looked in the mirror and I didn’t know if I looked good enough, I realised the journey is never over,” she said.

“Everything I said about believing in myself doesn’t come easily or naturally. It’s a lifelong practice. I have to wake up and commit to it.

“You all committed to something, whether it came easily or naturally, whether it was a struggle, or it was boring or really, really hard.

“You committed when you weren’t sure if you would make it through to the end and you’re here, achieving, believing, committing and choosing what’s good for yourself.

“You are now at the bottom of a new mountain and the top of the mountain is the end of your life. And you and I are just constantly going to be going up it.”

Taylor released her debut album Compliments Please in 2019, and made headlines performing at Glastonbury the same year in a minidress made of Boots Advantage Cards.

Her follow-up, Prioritise Pleasure, was released in late 2021 and was named the best album of the year by The Guardian and The Sunday Times.


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