Insecurity appears most often as the feeling that I’m back at ground zero, starting from nothing, again. Here I am again, here I am again, I should have learned, I should have learned by now.
Insecurity means I’m overwhelmed and unprepared and everything is chaotic.
Insecurity leads to three shitty options:
- A. Quitting
- B. Only attempting things I’ve done before, that are familiar enough I can probably handle them again…
- C. Backing myself into a corner, heaping desperation upon desperation just to force myself to move, then leaping into the unknown and maybe not dying/failing completely but also not having a good time, not living up to my own expectations, not being prepared, not recognizing any good or success in it, not feeling okay, and being so banged up and scraped and bruised and tender and exhausted and freaked out by the time I get somewhere that it’s really tough to celebrate or enjoy the progress.
Uncertainty without insecurity can be exciting… Still scary, risky, but more about adrenaline and adventure than anything else. Insecurity makes uncertainty intolerable and terror-filled.
Insecurity convinces me to dull my sharp edges.
“You’re too much,” whispers Insecurity. “No one can handle you as you are. No one likes your boldness or directness or carelessness or pointed questions. No one wants to talk that honestly. No one wants to hear your real opinions. You can’t be who you are. You’re too much.” I sigh and agree, because it is better to be loved for something I am not than to not be loved at all. (At least that’s what I think at the time.)
So I pound the glinting edge against a rock, over and over, until it is dented and dull and smashed, until the razor blade is a blunt force instrument, a clumsy little ill-fitted hammer, and all I can do is run around tap-tap-tapping, trying to make a sound.
Insecurity is a stone tied around our necks.
We stumble in shallow waters. We cannot stay afloat, we cannot swim, we cannot keep our heads above water, the smallest waves drag us under.
Insecurity convinces us to wrap our glittering diamond-hard multi-faceted selves in suffocating softness, to say Yes when we mean No, to hint around and tiptoe through life, to lay down vague lines we hope someone will care enough to follow instead of speaking clearly and truly what it is we want.
Insecurity thrives in the shadows, in secrets that get bigger and bigger the longer we keep them in.
Insecurity whispers, “It’s better this way.” Insecurity murmurs, “No one needs to know.” Insecurity lies and lies and lies in the most gentle voice, so soothing, so numbing, so safe, better to stay here, unknown, better to hide, better to be alone, it’s better this way, better this way…
Insecurity makes everything weighty. Every look, every word, every interaction is heavy, tied down with meaning, and the meaning is whatever we fear.
Insecurity convinces us that rejection is a thing to be feared.
Insecurity keeps us separate.
It creates self-perpetuating loops. I feel insecure, so I step back, I tone myself down, I try not to be too eager; you feel the energy as coldness, and interpret my step back as rejection, so you feel insecure and respond in kind. Then I feel more insecure, so I step back further, and it keeps going in a downward spiral until somebody has the courage to quit believing it.
Insecurity is so believable, though. It sounds like my own voice. It knows what to say to get my attention. It is ruthlessly precise, sorting through a lifetime for a specific memory, a moment, a fear. Then: the stab of regret, the flush of embarrassment, the certainty that it will only be worse this time. That’s enough to stop me, enough to trick me and trap me, once again, in the spiderweb haze of what I cannot be, what I must not reveal, what I must bury deeper, what I must guard better, what I must cover with another layer. Oh, the burdens we bear.
Insecurity is the source of all our self-doubts. It is the force which turns adrenaline into anxiety, anticipation into stress. It is an ugly and onerous beastie but it can be tamed by
- removing layers
- speaking soft and true, or sharp and true. It’s the true part that matters.
- saying what you feel
- saying what you want (or as close as you can get and keep breathing)
- asking for help
- opening up, reaching out
- that secret? Letting it out.
- that hidden part of you? Yep. Letting it out, too.
- that silly thing you never admit? Yep. Admitting it.
- That foolish part, the terrified part, the helpless part, the part that longs for approval, the part that feels vulnerable right now? Yep, that one.
- Let that one into the light. A little bit.
Softly as we go.
P.S. I have no idea how to actually get rid of insecurity. I’m getting better at ignoring it, though.