Making a likable protagonist
Question: My protagonist in my current story is a teenage girl. The story is told in first person from her point of view. In a nutshell, she has low self-esteem, is sorta pessimistic, witty, and hopeful. I feel like the only way to express her flaws is for her to whine about everything but nowadays no one really likes a whiny female lead. How do I make the reader care for my protagonist throughout the story and make her less whiny?Answer:
It sounds like you've made a good start by giving her flaws and anxieties which the reader can relate to.
What you might consider next is making her admirable or "cool." See if you can give her a strength - a special talent, skill, or unique way of seeing the world. Something no other character has and that makes her the uniquely able to lead the pursuit of the story goal.
I agree that someone who just whines about problems can be a bit dull. But a character who demonstrates strength despite her problems becomes heroic.
Sometimes a character can also become a little more likeable by making moral choices. We tend to like characters who stand up for others who are vulnerable, especially if it is not an easy choice.
You might also think of the type of person you might admire if/when you were the age of your readers.