I am insecure. Not all the time, and not in all situations, but insecurity is not a foreign concept to me. It’s not something I like to admit or am happy about, but I cannot deny its existence or its wounds.
Can you relate to these insecurity-laden scenarios?
I arrive a fashionable five minutes late and the room is all a buzz. A quick scan does not immediately reveal a familiar face. Panic sets is in.
• Is there lipstick on my teeth?
• Please let my socks be matching.
• Should I wait to text the babysitter 20 minutes or 10?
• Will anyone come talk to me?
• What should I say?
• Is my outfit ridiculously outdated?
• Will the Civic owner I parked too close to come find me?
• Did I leave my lights on?
• What do I do if ___________ is here? –Do I avoid eye contact, sneer or smile?
• I need to lose weight.
• Gosh her hair looks great, I wish my hair had that texture.
• Jacket on, jacket off, or go find a coat room?
• I officially hate networking/mingling.
A topic of potential controversy comes up in a circle of friends, either on line or in person. My views appear to be in the minority, perhaps even fringe, but they are firmly held. Fear sets in.
• Do I speak my mind and share my thoughts?
• Do I smile and stay silent?
• Will I lose friends if declare my true stance on this?
• Will I be demonized due to my beliefs?
• Will I be judged for my particular values?
• Do I compromise my values/beliefs/self if I do not speak them?
• How can I speak my truths in love, respectfully?
• How can I avoid this conversation getting confrontational?
• How do I say what I think/feel/believe without offending?
I’ve had a rough day at home/work/school and desperately want to find someone who relates to me, so I can KNOW I’m not alone in feeling these feels. I post/tweet the status update, and wait with baited breath. Anxiety sets in.
• Will anyone see my post? Will it get noticed at all?
• Will my post be liked?
• Will my post be commented on?
• Will I be berated for complaining?
• Will anyone commiserate with me?
• Will people say, “you think you have it bad, look what I have to go through: XYZ!?”
• Will I be judged and condemned for not proclaiming a serendipitous perpetual state of gratitude?
• Forget it, I’m going to delete the comment.
• I am alone.
These scenarios are but a few examples I have faced which highlight insecurity. But what is insecurity and why does it cripple so many of us in social situations? Does admitting any insecurity negate the existence of one’s confidence?
When boiled down, insecurity is the fear of rejection, or put another way, the fear of not being accepted as we are, for who we are. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that as mothers we have all felt at least some level of insecurity in some area of our lives. And those of us who, like myself, suffer from depression and anxiety, perhaps more prevalently.
What are some causes of insecurity? Pride and culture.
Let’s tackle culture first. Life is very different for the American woman of today. In many ways for the better, but in others, and in this one in particular, not so much. There has been a media explosion in the last two to three decades that bombards us with images of air-brushed fantasy women; whether waif or voluptuous vamp, neither are by any means “average” or easily attainable (naturally).
I can’t get through the line at the grocery store without feeling bad about myself.
In a Psychology Today article, “women who are surrounded by other attractive women, whether in flesh, in films, or in photographs, rate themselves as less satisfied with their attractiveness—and less desirable as a marriage partner.” -Michael Levine and Hara Estroff Marana, “Why I Hate Beauty”, Psychology Today (July/August 2001)
To put this in perspective, we no longer feel inferior to five to ten women we interact with and know of personally the way previous generations may have, but instead, we feel inferior to thousands of women we encounter via the media explosion and youth-obsessed culture of today. As a mother of four daughters, I am troubled with this realization, yet with knowledge am better equipped to lessen, counter and subvert its influence on my precious girls.
The danger is that if we as intelligent, modern women cannot, “learn to separate entertainment from identity and hyped images from real womanhood, our feminine souls are going to pass straight through the shredder. We must stop affirming and reaffirming to ourselves how inferior we are.” -Beth Moore, “So Long Insecurity”
And then there’s pride.
What does pride have to do with insecurity you say? Surprisingly, quite a lot. There are many, many other causes of insecurity, (unstable home life, loss, rejection, major life changes, and whether disasters), but pride is the only one which is in our control.
In short, certain people and situations can make us feel insecure because they hurt our pride. Author Beth Moore concludes that, “we have no greater burden in all life than our own inflated egos. No outside force has the power to betray and mislead us the way our own egos do. Pride talks us out of forgiving and steers us away from risking. Pride cheats us out of intimacy, because intimacy requires transparency.”
But let us not confuse pride with confidence. Pride is forever on the defensive, against anyone or thing that potentially detracts from its self. While confidence, on the contrary, is driven by the certainty of our God-given identity along with the firm conviction that no one can take that away.
So how can we overcome insecurity and avoid a prideful puffing up one’s ego? Humility. A crucial component of true security and confidence, humility gives us perspective, eradicates pride, and diminishes insecurity.
So ladies, let us approach these awkward situations with both humility and security, and let us offer to our fellow women gentleness, understanding and acceptance. May our confidence grow together, and may we laugh at the tabloids in the check-out line, lipstick smudged and muffin-topped.