I am, at times, incredibly insecure. Do you know how difficult that is to say out loud (or write and then post publicly online)? Very. But as I was writing my last blog post, my gut instinct suddenly went into overdrive and something told me that I needed to blurt out how my feelings of insecurity have held me back from being the best version of me that I can be. It’s certainly better now than it has been before, but let’s just say that I have a lot of work to do before insecurity will be a thing of the past.
For those of you who have been reading my blog posts for some time and are aware of my experiences with depression and anxiety, let me state upfront that feeling insecure isn’t isolated to that; I’ve struggled with insecurity for as long as I can remember. I’m tempted to talk about how my upbringing created and reinforced those feelings (which I did in my book, Depression? F*** Depression!) but let’s be frank, there’s an age by which you really should stop blaming your parents for everything and get on with living your life and since I’m coming up to my third 39th birthday (!) I’m mindful that it is what it is.
Admitting that you feel insecure is like a fart in an elevator – very rarely will anyone own up to it, and it’s a less-than-pleasant experience when you’re trapped with it. Much like a charity representative collecting donations out the front of a supermarket, insecurity is always ready to pounce when you least expect it if you don’t keep your eyes open and remain aware of what’s going on around you.
It might surprise some people that know me personally or professionally to find out just how insecure I can be, as outwardly I tend to adopt a fairly assertive and extroverted personality but, like many, those are masks that I have learnt to put on in order to push past feelings of insecurity.
The great news is that insecurity is not the end of the world. I’ve discussed before what a huge fan I am of RuPaul’s Drag Race (seriously – the most colourful and entertaining show on television) and I admire RuPaul’s openness and honesty about his own struggles with insecurity. He often refers to the ongoing battle with his “inner saboteur” and how he has learnt to harness it for good (i.e. As motivation) rather than allowing it to wreak havoc on his mindset. “Self-sabotage” is a great way to describe insecurity because that is exactly what it does; it sabotages your self.
Harnessing your insecurity and self-doubt requires acceptance; acceptance that you are insecure and that it is okay to be insecure. In fact, as much as my insecurity can be a real pain in the jacksie, I have found that it can be a very good motivator. Insecurity is just a form of fear and we each have a choice when it comes to fear: you can let fear hold you back or you can say “get out of my way!” and go for it. Overcoming fear is exhilarating – why else would so many people (myself included) love rollercoasters? Instead of allowing insecurity and fear to take control, recognising them for what they are – defence mechanisms – and thanking them for having your back, but not letting them stop you, can even be an asset.
Many years ago when I was a trainer (no, not a personal trainer – a corporate trainer, teaching people job-related skills) I found myself feeling ridiculously nervous before a session one day and mentioned it to one of the managers I worked with at the time, who told me that she too often experienced nerves but that’s how she knew she still loved what she was doing, because the feeling of “butterflies in the stomach” meant that she cared enough about doing it well to be nervous (thanks, DB!). That was a major ‘a-ha!’ moment for me and I have passed that advice on to many, many people over the years.
For what else is insecurity but your body and mind telling you that they care about you and want you to do well? And, if you really think about it, isn’t that a nice thing? So say a big “thanks!” to yourself, harness the power of your fear and take that leap. It just might be the greatest thing you’ll ever do. And if it’s not? That’s okay too. Be kind to yourself, because every experience is a learning opportunity and a chance to grow. And growth, my dear readers, is always preferable to stagnation.
Thanks for reading! Until next time,