Insecurity is a toxic poison.
The problem is, we all experience it. I think it’s just another word for Shame; the feeling that we aren’t enough. Perhaps insecurity is simply shame triggered by seeing qualities in another we wish we had.
The lie is that we are the only ones; that no one else feels this way.
No one feels socially awkward or self-conscious of their post-baby body in a swimsuit or their ability to speak eloquently or that their talents are worth sharing. No one else feels embarrassed and insecure about their parenting abilities when their three year-old talks back in public or bites another kid in preschool. No one else wonders if inviting a group of strangers into her home is such a good idea with the dust bunnies, the greasy oven hood, and floors that don’t exactly shine (ain’t nobody got time…).
Insecurity; Whether its our looks, our homes, our talents, our relationships, our money, our status…We all feel it, somewhere.
Honestly, there are time when no one needs to do anything in order for us to feel insecure, other than just be themselves in a way that is bold and confident and secure. I get that.
But every once in a while, my insecurity is triggered, when I feel shame for being myself.
Sharing too much, being too bold, having too strong of opinions, having a different opinion. Or even from being too vulnerable and admitting my messy, needy heart. That is indeed the worst kind of shame- when, because of their own fear of being known, someone makes us feel bad for admitting the truth about who we are.
The most painful relationships in my life have been the ones where I have tried to be real about who I am and instead of being met with compassion, I’m met by superiority or silence.
Insecurity craves validation.
Validation is sneaky. It’s like a drug. You get your fix from some extra “likes” on Facebook…but the feeling never lasts…You’re always looking for that next source of validation.
Earlier today I was venting to a dear group of online photographer friends about a rejection I was dealing with. I had submitted images to a very cool stock agency…and they were rejected. Part of their response was “To see the type of work we accept for (this agency) please visit our curated collections on our homepage.”
The message I’ve heard was “Sorry, you’re just not cool enough. Did you look at how cool our images are? Are you a skinny beautiful photographer with a flair for fashion who lives in the LA area and has a house full of succulents and drives a vintage VW bus? Nope? Then you’re not one of us.” (Obviously I’m projecting the teensiest bit here.) Maybe there are some other issues at play. I don’t know why it hurt so much. Perhaps because I did look at their galleries and loved the work I saw and felt like mine could fit in there.
But here’s the ugly truth about looking outside for validation: My friend Lauren once said “Validation is sneaky. It’s really like a drug. You get your fix from some extra likes on your Facebook page or because maybe you were featured somewhere. But the feeling never lasts and you’re always looking for that next source of validation. And it just makes you feel so empty inside the longer it goes between those moments. There are certain aspects of photography that make me feel so fulfilled, and I try to hold on to those, but the temptation for the immediate gratification from validation is so tempting.
God loves me with this fierce…never-ending, never-giving up love, yet I so easily cast it aside for a digital hit of affirmation.
I feel ill when I think about all that I know is true about me, all that God says about how he loves me with this fierce, jealous, passionate, never-ending, never-giving up love and that I so easily cast it aside for a digital hit of affirmation. What is it that keeps us looking for validation outside of who our Creator says we are? And isn’t it a bit tricky that part of the way we experience His love and affection is through the love and affection of other human beings?
When I feel insecure around someone, it’s often because I fear that they will judge me.
We really can’t separate insecurity from judgement. If I am around someone who is always well-dressed and put together (Read: showered and wearing makeup, something other than yoga pants) I assume they will judge me for how I look. They might, indeed. But, in the end, it’s really none of my business what anyone else thinks about me.
When I visit someone’s house that seems to be perfectly decorated with a place for everything, and everything in it’s place (not to mention clean), I feel embarrassed. I’m thinking about the pile of mismatched socks that literally live on the bedroom floor, the fact that my youngest child basically sleeps in a storage closet, and my kitchen with it’s mismatched counters and dirty floors. Truth is, these are stupid, shallow, superficial things. They certainly aren’t my highest priorities, yet they still get to me.
Friends, let’s make a promise to each other: let’s promise not to judge each other in our insecurities.
Let’s not stand back to back to see how we measure up against each other. When we do, we are robbing something deep from both of us- the chance to enter into another’s human experience, to shine out of who we are, and to grow from each other’s strength and weaknesses.
I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. 2 Colossians 2:2-3