Insecurities, a common occurrence that most people expect you to get over and
or not acknowledge. By Webster’s definition being insecure is: not confident about yourself or your ability to do things well :nervous and uncomfortable. That said insecurity sometimes runs rampant in my life. It is often the reason my abilities and passions are tabled by inaction, and procrastination. As with most people, usually the issues that we face have a root explanation or cause, and to change the situation sometimes you have to dig up and cut out the roots.
So where does my insecurity stem from? If I were to pinpoint it to a time frame I would say my childhood. Throughout my life I have had a myriad of talents that I virtually wasted away. I know sounds ridiculous right? Who wastes talent, natural or acquired? Well, I do and did. So why did I chose to not bother? Well, for me it was a lack of support. I was so self-sufficient perhaps my parents got lost in their own worlds after they divorced and forgot how important it is to encourage a child. I can certainly relate, I almost got lost in my own world of maintaining my household after my own divorce. That said my parents were busy, too busy. My childhood and adolescent years lacked presence and encouragement.
Then there was that abusive relationship. As a teenager I had yet to develop a sense of self. I had no idea what it meant to love or value myself. Over 16 years It wore me down to a nub of a woman and robbed me of the option to learn and grow for over a decade. I still carry the words from the verbal abuse, like they were etched in stone on my heart. Every time I stumble they are a constant reminder of what or who I am not, and what I will not accomplish. Since that time there is no bigger critic or harsher critique that comes in my life than the one I have for myself. Everything that I saw as me was inadequate. Physically I was not pretty enough. Mentally I was not smart enough or tough enough.
Eventually I trended from borderline overachiever to professional half-asser/get by chick. I have half assed my way through almost everything in my life. My children and my job are the only exceptions. In college I settled for a 3.4 GPA skipping class, and assignments because it didn’t really matter. After HS I gave up singing and squashed my range which was tenor to soprano (think Sara Brightman). The one thing I regret the most was running. I don’t know anything that made me happier, and I was naturally good at that. Why didn’t it matter? Because it was me, I adopted the mind state as a youngster that if it involved me it didn’t really matter as long as it wasn’t bad. I have carried this mindset for the majority of my life, and it is one hard ideal to shake. To fight with myself to entrench the importance of me and the fact that I; my abilities, my goals are important and they matter sounds like utter nonsense.
Then there are the physical things. Look in the mirror long enough and you can identify everything the world will judge and misjudge you for, along with a few things they’ll never even notice. Being beautiful has never been my forte. Now for those of you that see me and see gorgeous well honey, I definitely did not always see that, lol. My vision of me wasalways marred by the fact that my nose is pointier like white folks, and I’m a little light. My hair was never right be it afro, relaxer, braids, weave; there was always a place in there for criticism about the lack of self love based on a style or texture. My boobs went from small, to small and sagging after three kids. I added fat, stretch marks, varicose veins to the not subtly unsexy mix, and there was full on depression. It did make it easier to blame myself for my husband’s cheating.
In the summer of 2010, I did my first of what would become many photoshoots. Strangely for the first time I saw myself as myself. I did not have on a ton of makeup, and I was not altered in any way. I saw my bruises and scars, literally, along with my imperfections and I loved them. Slowly I began to love the me I saw too. My freckles, my quirks, my eyes, every little thing that made me who I face every morning before I face the world. The image that God had in mind when he created me.
I struggle with either of the two extremes success, and failure. I’m most comfortable being mediocre, which in itself lets me know it’s not where I belong. The idea of success is overwhelming because with success comes people. Highly critical, over reaching people, in your business and personal space people. No one has an assessment of the average. Failure, on the other hand, ushers in more insecurity and the inability to trust myself and my possibilities. My first book published in 2014, was finished in 2012, and I found every excuse not to proceed for fear of failure and success.
Insecurity is like a dam holding back everything that I am and have to offer. It is bolstered by my heartbreaks and what I perceive as my failures and imperfections. My prayers are the lone chisel compromising the dam’s integrity. I am 37 and learning to leap like children do and know that if I fall I’ll be fine, and if I make it, it’s okay to celebrate. Instead of being bitter or pointing fingers I am grateful that my parents worked so hard to provide for me. I am astounded that I came out of my relationship so optimistic despite my scars. I am happy that I am learning to push myself and take things one day at a time. The first step in working against my insecurities is acknowledging them. The second was learning how to recognize it for it what it is so I know when to push just a little harder and go take just one or ten more steps toward the ever dreaded success. One of my favorite songs is Mary J. Blige’s “Take me As I Am”. She croons about how life and people just can tear you to pieces but at the end of the day you can take it or leave it and they can take or leave you. I, among many around the world love the song and relate because we want to be accepted for who we are. The irony is that far too often, we barely accept ourselves.
Originally published 1/27/16