Some days I really like myself. I like the way I look, I like where I am in life, and I like where I’m headed. Other days…not so much. And what bothers me is how few and far between the days I like myself are becoming, and how the “other days” are all but a norm.
To an extent, I think it’s good to always be a little unsure of yourself. It keeps you on your toes. But when you’re consumed by insecurity — or characterized by it — it becomes a serious burden. Your negative thoughts affect not only your perception of yourself and your life, but your actions. When you don’t believe in yourself you don’t speak up at work because you assume you’ll be shot down. You don’t pursue that dream or idea you’ve always had because you’re convinced you aren’t good enough to succeed. You don’t shoot your shot at the thicc king/kween at happy hour because you assume you’ll be rejected.
It’s both a toxic cycle and a self-fulfilling prophecy. You don’t put yourself out there because you’re insecure, and because you never put yourself out there you never have the opportunities to build confidence or prove to yourself how capable you really are.
This is a silly example, but during the summer I went to a swanky event full of zaddies (for the old people that read my blog, zaddies are attractive men) and was approached by several. I can’t remember if I had a water in one hand and a drink in the other or two vodka sodas in both, but a gorgeous man I had to look up to speak to with piercing blue eyes that had complimented my outfit earlier asked me about my drinks.
“Where’s your boyfriend? I thought the other drink was for a guy.”
“Oh I would’ve hit on you hours ago.”
The first time he talked to me, I assumed he was gay. To be fair, we were in DC — one of the gayest cities in the country — but nothing about him overtly or indirectly lead me to believe he liked dudes. I just assumed no one that attractive would give me the time of day.
Insecurity is the ultimate “congratulations, you played yourself” because the negative energy of self doubt is repugnant. You may just be shy or insecure, but people around you are getting all the wrong impressions. They think you’re rude, standoffish, not interested, etc. etc. And there’s no telling how many opportunities your insecurities have robbed you of because they were perceived as something other than what they were.
For so long I’ve been afraid of saying the wrong thing when what I should have been afraid of is saying nothing at all. The opportunity cost of being afraid of looking stupid is exponentially higher than embarrassing yourself or even being rejected.
I know it’s not easy. I know what it’s like to have your heart beating out of your chest as every possible negative outcome of any given course of action plays out in your head. I know what it’s like to fumble and fall over your words because you’re nervous. I know just how difficult it is to go against every instinct you have and your very nature trying to put on an air of confidence, charisma and extroversion.
When you think you aren’t accomplished enough or interesting enough or attractive enough to put yourself out there whether it’s professionally, romantically or socially, it’s uncomfortable to go against your every intuition and do just that. But what’s harder to live with than a few moments of rattling anxiety is the “what if’s” that will haunt you years down the line if you can’t learn to put aside your fears and go after whatever it is that you want.
5 years ago
yeah, i remember in my 20s i was always asking myself quietly, am i cool enough? my clothes, my hair? God what a distraction. There were some times i felt like i was coming off fine, others i felt completely inadequate. My response was to slum it, i found crowds of utter losers or misfits, and didn’t feel as often being outshined. At college, there were so many smart kids, smarter than me, cooler than me, more easy going than me, better looking, and i thought i was all of those. Hoo boy that wasn’t the case. So i found mediocrities to hang out with, to my detriment…
My advice, relax, and find experiences where being cool and done up isnt’ the main point. Volunteer at a farm, co-op, church, big sister mentor type org, something in which your personal sexual marketplace value isn’t the focus of at least the evening. Where you can communicate with people in an ordinary, win-win setting. I think you’ll help develop your still-shaping personality. I was always great at instant messaging, on the message boards, emails back in the day but in-person i could get tongue tied.
5 years ago
oh and also, using alcohol as a crutch is very, very bad. Does a sports player drink before going on the field, to loosen up? no. Because the body has to be clean for all the moving around, can’t have something in your bladder sending you to the bathroom often, and oh don’t forget the reflexes. If you’re trying to make conversation, wouldn’t you want your mind to be sharp sharp? One drink to start the night, but don’t be slamming them. A drink in each hand? , ay yi yi, to me as a guy that’s always a turnoff. Years go I used to smoke for the same reason – nerves, something to occupy my hands – but the foolishness of that does not need to be said.
Get some outside hobbies so you can literally bring those to the table. I do archery, a bit expensive to start up but i meet great people, it’s a technical sport so you can discuss the mechanics of it, not focusing on yourself but something outside. Flying a kite, literally? I’ve seen those at parks and the people are having fun. By a drone and fly it around? or a remote control car, those are hilarious. An exercise group, spin class, Zoomba etc, now that would be a good way to socialize and improve your health (which is probably at a lower point from being sedentary office life and with the young person’s classic eating and drinking less than healthy). I swear, going back to the gym this year, my mind is sooo much sharper, more than any cafeinne pill could do. just ideas, Pretty Patriot, i dig Conservative patriotic young people because it defies the herd mentality. Just make sure you’re the healthiest, relaxed one you can be. The enhancements to your social life will follow naturally.
5 years ago
Thank you for yet another well written and wonderful post! I struggle with this as well and the thoughts of “what if” are so agonizing it literally pains me. We are our own worst enemies at times really because those insecure thoughts will literally rob you of trying and succeeding at amazing things. Thank you for this post!!
5 years ago
Thank you for yet another well written and wonderful post! I struggle with this as well and the thoughts of “what if” are so agonizing it literally pains me. We are our own worst enemies at times really because those insecure thoughts will literally rob you of trying and succeeding at amazing things. Thank you for this post!