The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “not confident about yourself or your ability to do things well.” An article in Psychology Today website defines it as “an inner feeling of being threatened and/or inadequate in some way.” But knowing the definition is not enough to explain what insecurity looks like.
Let me tell you how insecurity looks like from my point of view. I have been having insecurities for as long as I can remember but until recently I could not describe what it is. I just knew that I did not feel good, and that feeling lead me to anxious feeling. I just knew something was wrong, but I could not point my finger at it. Reading self-help articles did not help me, because of my inability to pinpoint what the problem was.
Insecurity looks like a dark and ugly little monster who lives inside a cave in my mind. Its default is idle, sleeping inside the dark cave inaccessible to anyone. That is why I had grown comfortable and ignorant of its presence. I felt safe enough, but I was wrong. See, the monster seems to have a sense or an alarm when something walks in front of the cave, a motion sensors perhaps. If something passes in front of the cave, the monster wakes up and scares the thing off.
What could trigger the motion sensor? They could be in the form of people’s achievement, the presence of others, even a single sentence that somehow taunts the monsters. For depressed people, it can be happy thoughts, positivity, or optimism – all the things we feel we do not deserve. These are the things that upsets the monster, so it has to chase them off.
“You’re not good enough!”
“Those appraisals? They are all lies!”
“You’re not pretty/handsome enough, of course no one likes you.”
“You’re not talented enough, that’s why you don’t get the job.”
“Do you know why he doesn’t say good morning to you but do exactly the same to another girl? It’s because you’re boring. You’re cheap. You’re not attractive enough. He doesn’t need you.”
“What did you just said? You know, you’re wrong, right? People are going to talk about you behind your back.”
“You’re incompetent, you know that, don’t you?”
“She’s going to cheat on you. Look how friendly she is toward her colleagues.”
These attacks, they come often unexpected, and unanticipated. The nasty little monster inside the dark cave cannot be rid easily. It may be chained to the cave, unable to go outside, but its vicious attack can damage our positive emotions and feelings entirely. And we never realize the extent of the damage it causes until it’s already too late. We become afraid and anxious, feeling that nobody can save us, like we are being betrayed for allowing these things to pass in front of the cave again.
That’s what insecurities look like. That’s what I have inside. The little monster that belittles me and my deeds every single time. The monster that stops me in my tracks and makes me want to shrink myself. The nasty creature that always succeeds in making me dismiss every compliment paid to me, or question every single good deed people do to me.
Getting to know my own insecurities helps me calm myself whenever it attacks. It still attacks me, but sometimes, when my head is clear enough, I can stay calm in front of the cave. I take a deep breath, acknowledge what happens, and tell myself, “This will be over soon.” It is an on-going battle and perhaps one day I get to befriend the monster, so it will no longer scare off all the good things I deserve.
Orrik Ormeari is someone who believes there are many perspectives of an issue, and that is why she tries to keep an open mind (although sometimes it’s easier said than done).