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By Madeline Perez

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that you, reader, have an insecurity. Maybe you think you’re ugly, or maybe unlovable; possibly even sexually dysfunctional. Why not all three! Everyone is insecure about something unless they’re not smart enough to know how to doubt themselves, like toddlers. Actually, do toddlers have insecurities? I’m not sure on that one, so don’t quote me on anything. Anyway, it’s my belief that insecurity is one of the only feelings that has no social utility. Many negative emotional states, though convoluted, have roots in purpose. Anxiety (the feeling) is often an important motivator necessary for success, survival, or some other third s-word. A slight depression after some negative life change, forcing you to pause and forget your responsibilities, can at times be crucial to properly cope with what happened and start to heal. Guilt and regret, while closely related to insecurity, serve an important situational purpose in understanding when you’ve done something “wrong” or hurt someone else (duh). Though annoying as they can be, these feelings mean you’re not a sociopath and are capable of feeling a little something I made up that I like to call “empathy.” While guilt focuses on feeling bad about something you did, insecurity is often feeling bad about something you are. A consistent, never-ending self-guilt that’s pointed inward and makes you desperate for relief. Regular guilt has a purpose – you can change your actions; what’s the point of feeling bad about yourself?

Insecurity is not an acknowledgment of self-awareness. Often, people are insecure about things that either aren’t real or don’t really matter (double duh). People will often bring up or apologize for some minute insecurity to try and prove they’re “self-aware,” transparently  attacking themselves first before others can. This can lead to some uncomfortable situations, one of which I will now demonstrate through a hypothetical. 

If I’m insecure about my big feet (which I’m not, my feet aren’t even big), bringing it up around other people won’t make them think “oh, well at least she knows about it, so that makes it alright.” What it actually does is draw attention to the fact that I’m insecure. Now, these other people are in a position where they can truthfully agree with me, which will crush me, disagree to spare my insecurity, or awkwardly stay silent, wishing they never entered this conversation in the first place. Chances are, you’ve been in this situation before. Chances are, you’ve put others in this situation before, it’s happened to the best of us. There’s no shame in having insecurities, but girl, this is not a good color on you. 

Other people shouldn’t have to pay the price for your insecurities. They need to be fixed from the inside, and not the outside, which means it’s kind of up to you. Getting that amazing feeling when someone compliments something you’re insecure about isn’t really a good thing; it’s indicative of some larger problem. It’s not healthy to be that desperate to hear words to fill that insecurity hole inside your chest. It’s actually never healthy to have a hole in your chest! I get it; when you are insecure about something, and I mean deeply insecure, a word on the contrary from the right person can be more alluring than the finest crack money can buy. Insecurity breeds desperation, which festers and maggots its way through relationships like swissed cheese. Do they love me? Do they really care about me? Will they leave me when they figure out what a worthless leech I am, sucking the happiness from their life like some sort of deranged, rabid, happy-sucking vampire? 

I don’t think being insecure is anyone’s fault. In some cases, the insecurity is directly brought on by other people and how they treat you. Maybe you keep questioning if that person loves you because you know on some level they’re not treating you like they do, and instead of confronting them about it you label yourself as unlovable. Maybe you’ve been told having big feet is bad by a cruel society, and rather than recognizing that there’s nothing inherently wrong with it you blame yourself because society can feel like seven billion against one sometimes, and how can I win with those odds? The trick to insecurity is looking outward instead of inward; what situation was I in that is making me worry about this? Was it a realistic criticism of something I need to change, or is it a harmless trait that makes no sense fretting over? Is this hurting anybody? Is it something I can change if I wanted to? Is it even real? This can be borderline impossible to solve quickly, especially if you’re reversing years of mistreatment, teasing, or belittlement. But give it time. No one should spend all day worrying whether they’re unlovable or deserving of friendship. You’re not the vague and archetypal “bad person” every good person thinks they are. 

Now that you’ve learned to analyze why you’re insecure, you need to figure out how to stop that insecurity from self-propagating. What’s most important is framing others’ behaviors in ways that don’t reflect on you, which I will now demonstrate with a little game:

Oh god, my friend canceled again! Is it because:

  1. They’re lying about being my friend
  2. They secretly hate me and talk about me behind my back
  3. Something came up and they didn’t have time
  4. They’re plotting to kill me

Chances are, 95% of the time the answer is C (which it always is). People have tons of reasons for going about their lives that have nothing to do with you! Maybe they were snappy because they were having a bad day. Maybe they’re in pain. Maybe their dog just got carried away by a hawk and they need to break the news to their other pets. Framing the situation differently can help make you stop being all weird and sweaty all the time. Frankly, I won’t lie; there is the off chance that the answer was A, B, or D, and your friend canceled for some malicious reason. Still, you shouldn’t worry! It’s up to other people to be upfront and honest about their intentions- not up to you to try and figure out how people “really feel” about you. If your friends and acquaintances didn’t want to be around you, they wouldn’t. But what if I’m putting them in a position where they feel the need to hang out with me if I ask? What if I’m secretly bothering them? I’ll keep it real, homie, it’s their own responsibility to put their needs above yours or tell you if something’s wrong. That’s just basic decency. And if someone is plotting to kill you, I think that reflects more on them than on you. 

Your traits are a part of you. They don’t make you good or bad, they just simply exist. This might be difficult for some to understand, but there is nothing inherently wrong with being chubby or ugly or too talkative or uptight or most other traits. Who gets hurt by you being the ugliest fish in the fishbowl? Everyone has a trait others see as negative, but those traits are crucial to being a fully-fledged human being. Chances are you might just find people who think your trait is endearing. You should never apologize for trends in your character. Sorry for being so talkative, I just don’t know when to shut up sometimes. Am I being annoying? I’m annoying, aren’t I. No! Stop that! You’re not being self-aware by berating yourself in front of others and if you actually thought what you were doing was that bad, you probably wouldn’t be doing it in the first place. You should apologize for actions, not personality traits. If other people don’t like you, it’s, again, up to them to remove themself from the situation. You’re not as bad as you think you are. Although, what most people do find insufferable is being put in a position where they feel forced to give you a compliment. Apologies indicate you regret what you did and are committed to not doing it again, and you can’t commit to not being yourself in the future (triple duh). By apologizing for your own insecurities, you are making the apology about yourself rather than the person you’re apologizing to. Now, they’re back in the position from earlier, unsure on whether to agree with you, contradict you, or simply blow their brains out. 

You are driving down the highway when you see a rather large pick-up truck. Upon closer inspection, you see that it has steel ornamental balls hanging from the bumper, otherwise known as truck nuts. Oh yeah, you think to yourself. That guy has a small penis. Overcompensation, however funny it can be, is begot from insecurity. The logical conclusion of trying to hide some perceived personal failure. How could I not be masculine? Look, even my truck has balls! Overcompensation can be very sad to watch from the sidelines, some last flailings to the universe to prove not only to others but to yourself. Look world! I’m not the thing I’m scared I might be! Most of the time all it does is tell others insecurities you might not even be aware of yourself. And that’s a scary thought. An insecurity so deep-rooted you don’t even realize you have it. 

The truth is, being insecure will not only hurt you, but insecure people are more likely to hurt others. They project their worries, fight with others… have even known to be defensive at times, and sometimes can be in a denial so deep they threaten to drown everyone with them. The only way to fix insecurity is to do some reflecting, change the things you want to, and accept everything else. You shouldn’t always be aiming for change- sometimes you just need to aim for peace. Peace with yourself. Peace with others. Piece of cake! Making peace with the world as it is can help you stop being needlessly insecure, and you have your whole life to do it! So why not get started now? I remember what it was like to be insecure… tough times! Good thing I grew out of that. 

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