Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Seeds of Doubt and Insecurity....

There are some things in life than can make you feel just a wee bit smaller than you want to feel, a wee bit less than you want to feel and, overall, a wee bit more insecure than you want to feel.

Insecurity is a thing that hits first in your teens, I think. I think insecurity is born in you as a tiny seed. It exploits itself at a young age but doesn't take root until the beginning of your teenage years. In some cases it hits earlier or later but in the majority of us, the teenage years are where it really hits.

I watch my four year old niece. She is, as many four year old girls are, adorable. She has no qualms in the world. She's clever. She's funny. She's naughty but she can get away with it because she's adorable and she knows it. When she walks into a room with other children, there's no hesitation; my niece knows she's important and she doesn't expect anyone to feel otherwise. She's a presence and a positive one at that and there's absolutely no doubt in her mind that everyone should be delighted she's there.

And the thing is, everyone is delighted she's there. What's not to love about a beautiful little girl who knows who she is, has no doubt that she's loved and just simply wants to be part of everything?

That, to me, is a gift. It's something that I think every child should have. Perhaps every child does have at first and maybe it's life and experiences that take it away.

Or, perhaps, there are some children that don't have it because it's not born in them.

It's hard to say. As a child, I was always shy. I preferred the company of books to people once I learned to read. With my friends, I was always the type of child to prefer the company of one or two 'best' friends to a plethora of social cohorts. As a teen, this continued. I had a circle of friends I could trust, who would let me be me when I was with them.

I suppose everyone else was 'the enemy'.

It all came from insecurity. In my youth, I had friends who were cute or pretty. Me, I never felt that way. I wanted to be the pretty one but it never turned out that way. My best friend in my childhood was a very pretty girl of whom people would stop and say, "wow, that "X" is a pretty girl!" and there I would be, suddenly feeling lumpy and extraneous.

It's silly when I look back on it but that's when it started. It began the minute people began to recognize others around me but left me feeling...there. It's not such a bad thing. I mean, no one ever said, "look at that [Captain Monkeypants]! What an ugly child she is!" or "Wow, that [Captain Monkeypants] is an unpleasant child."

No, I was lucky that way. It's just that when you start feeling extraneous, extraneous you remain. It follows you through life. You can get through the teenage years and feel awkward, shy and useless by believing that life gets better.

And it does. College hits and you find the place you belong. That's a fun feeling. You begin to establish who you are in life. You may not be the cute, pretty one but you have a purpose and when you find the right set of friends, you feel like that purpose means something.

Insecurity starts to vanish. You start feeling like you matter. The horror of high school is gone and the reality of life sinks in.

But if you've felt insecure before, you'll feel insecure again. That's how I feel. Sure, as you get older, you can start to rationalize things. When someone says, "That "X", she sure is pretty!" you still have an urge to look in the mirror and wonder why no one has ever said that about you. You may not even care that you're not really pretty but still, when someone acknowledges someone else's cuteness or prettiness, you suddenly do care. You start to wonder what that cute/pretty person has that you don't. You start to look at them and analyze their makeup or skin regimen.

In short, you secretly start to feel small again even though the most insecure years are behind you. High school is over. Becoming an adult is a rite of passage. Being concerned about one's attractiveness should be behind you.

Except...it never is. It's always there.

For example, in my current office, we have a woman who comes in from one of our branch offices. She's young. She's 'cute'. I know this because when she's come for a brief stint and left again, most of our staff sit around and say, "that "X" is so pretty!"

And she is...in a way. An insecure person, say, like me, would look at "X" and say, wow, she wears too much makeup. Her eyebrows are plucked too much and if you removed the five layers of eye makeup, she wouldn't be pretty!"

But, yet....it doesn't matter. The seed is planted. The nag of insecurity has risen its ugly head. It results in instant comparisons, of wondering why I've never felt that 'pretty' in my life.

It's pathetic, really. It's a fatal flaw of human kind. We see that which others have and we instantly compare our lot in life. I'm not saying it's right. I'm saying it's true. I'm being honest.

We can spend years building ourselves up, of convincing ourselves that we're good enough, we're smart enough and, gosh darn it, people like us.!

But it all comes down to that sudden, unexpected moment of insecurity. No matter how hard we work to look good, it just takes one compliment to someone else, not to us, to send us into an instant tizzy.

As I said, it's pathetic. It's self-involved. It's...wrong. Why should we care? That person is not us! We're special.

It's all a question of self-perception. I'm not asking for pity. I'm not asking for compassion. More than anything, I want to know if it's just me. We could be the smartest/prettiest/coolest person in the universe but it only takes someone else to upstage us for a moment before we begin to doubt...right?

It's all rather silly really, particularly when, for the most part, in my life, at least, I'm happy. I'm not unhappy with how I look any more. Granted, looking like a Victoria's Secret model might have been more beneficial in life but since I don't have two heads, I have most of a working brain and I have a plethora of creativity, it's not all so bad.

But it still doesn't stop me comparing myself. It's in everything. Why is Stephanie Meyer a bestseller with the Twilight series and I can't even get an agent to read my entire manuscript? Why am I not married as so many of my friends are? Why is the paint on my walls splotchy when my friends' houses look professionally painted.

The list goes on. It's life. It's insecurity. I'm sure everyone has it. I'm sure it's normal. It just sucks that even when you're a grown up, happy with your life for the most part, you can find yourself stopped dead in your tracks by something you didn't see coming, something that makes you suddenly feel insecure.

It's life. It's human. Yet it makes us feel far less so. In my case, at least, I start feeling even more angry with myself that I feel so useless and ineffectual. It's a vicious cycle. It's all rather silly. Perhaps the moral is that you never truly escape from high school, even as the years pass.

Or, perhaps, the moral is that you can escape from high school. It's just that you need to believe in yourself and not compare yourself to others and wonder why your life isn't like theirs.

After all, if everyone's life was the same, life would be a boring place.

Insecurity sucks. Perhaps that means it's time to kiss it goodbye.

Happy Wednesday.

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