Happy Monday, Celebrationists. I hope it’s been a happy one.
- I am grateful for the kind, generous, and very caring chiropractor who is making my day-to-day life immeasurably more comfortable
- I am grateful for clean laundry that smells vaguely of a moonlit path
- I am grateful for short wait times, medium length books that can be devoured in an hour, and long phone calls with friends who I miss very much
I recently had breakfast with a talented, kind, beautiful dear friend who asked me, over our plates of morning deliciousness (mine drenched in hot sauce, naturally), what I thought my biggest flaw was. Immediately ruffled by the question, I went through a frazzled mental scan of all the possibilities, and, quite honestly, whipping through which felt the most appropriate to say aloud. At this point our coffee was getting cold (and not in a good way), so I gave my customary and controlled Libra response of, “Hmmm. Let me think about it. What would you say that yours is?” Without skipping a beat, my friend responded with “My insecurity.” My eyes probably bugged out of my head, a la – a Tom and Jerry cartoon of my youth:
If you were to ask me what I most admire about said friend, confidence would undoubtedly be in the top three. This response of theirs was thoroughly honest and vulnerable, and was in no way given to prompt any compliments or reassurance.
Later in the week I had a phone date with another lovely friend who is unquestionably considered a gorgeous success of a person in their given line of work, life, and community. We too had a conversation about insecurity, and how this person feels like they are never “doing enough”. For a follow-up on THAT idea, check out THIS piece of glory and brilliance by none other than the insurmountable Elizabeth Gilbert. Again, shocking. A person who I think – “Wow. If I were them, I would be so confident you’d have to squeeze my head into a standard sized doorway for it to fit, I bet! Because they are the definition of awesome!”
These conversations felt timely this week as I’ve been battling the part of myself that has a deep envy of those elusive “cool kids” who don’t care what other people think about them. Because the thing is, I do care. I care a lot. And no number of self-help books has completely quashed this out of me yet. So far there is no perfect number of affirmations that penetrates deeply enough to a place where I am feeling like “Yeah, what this or that person (might) think of me has no effect on the way I feel about myself (insert optional hair toss)!” on a consistent basis. I PREACH this idea to myself and others (with sincerity and passion), in an aspirational sort of way, and believe it whole-heartedly on an intellectual level. I have moments where I graze hands with this feeling, and then it races away from me like a French Bulldog puppy you are trying to stuff into a Halloween “taco” costume. This is not a cool or attractive quality. I’ve learned not to give this aspect of myself a prominent place in the fabric of who I am – namely because it is a boring and exhausting way to live. And I find other people much more interesting than my own neurosis. However improved, this part of me is still present, and in ways I’m sure I’m not even totally conscious of. I don’t share any of this to be a downer. I like me. I know the two friends mentioned above also like themselves. But isn’t it crazy what we do to ourselves sometimes? Like, actually crazy.
For instance. I’ve worked to form habits of grace (and gentle self-deprecation, which I realize is not exactly a virtue) but the truth is that even when I do something lame but inconsequential – like ruin a batch of poorly executed vegan chocolate chip cookies that had to be gingerly renamed “Kelly’s Succulent Squares” (please note, they are in no way succulent, and I have no intention of eating them…), or don’t know the answer to a trivia question that I “should” know… I feel sensitive about it. I’ll make myself laugh and joke when I can muster it, but I don’t mean it. There’s a part of me that has an actual negative physical response to such things. So you can imagine when something of greater weight occurs. Isn’t that beyond silly?
(WHAT are the pores in this “cookie?” I will never know how this happened…)
But speaking with these two good friends this week made me consider the fact that maybe there are no cool kids, not really. I’m willing to say that there are probably people who care far LESS than you or I do about certain things, but maybe the desire to be untouchable in this way…to truly “not care” and feel 100% secure in our own skin, just as we are…maybe that’s chasing something that just doesn’t exist. What if we’re all just undercover, sensitive little nerds at heart – in one way or another?
Facebook constantly brings us into contact with our most beautiful, fabulous, successful, enviable friends, providing ample opportunity for comparison and self-judgement. But think of the person you idealize most on your newsfeed. I wonder what their biggest insecurity is – I bet they have one. I bet they have many. I don’t say this to encourage Shadenfreude. I say this so maybe you’ll give yourself a break.
I guess what this all boils down to is, if it’s true that we are all fairly insecure beings (about SOMETHING, at least) – then what can be learned from this insecurity? If we’re going to live with it, fight with it sometimes, or let it be part of us and just relegate it to its own little spot in the quiet backseat – how can we also demand that it give us something in return? How can we perhaps find Little Bits of Good in our moments (or years) of insecurity?
I think we can remember this part of our nature when we are dealing with people who seem to us to be:
- Overtly judgemental
- Super controlling
- Quick and loud about broadcasting their opinions in a pushy way
- The people who, consciously or unconsciously demand to be the center of attention at all times
- The people who hide – literally or metaphorically
- The person whose posts drive us the most crazy on social media
- Exaggeration stations
- People whose fuses we deem to be “too short” or “too long”
- Etc, etc. etc.
What I mean is, maybe our own insecurities, irritating and demoralizing as they can be – maybe they are also a source of our well of compassion for others. Or if they aren’t now, maybe they can be. What if we could increase our awareness when dealing with others? What if we found recognition in that forced laugh, overly confident claim, baggy sweater and downward glance, or that aggressive attempt to be liked? What if we tuned up our ability to really listen to what’s going on and be pointed in our mission to support each other? To give honest and sincere compliments when we feel compelled to? To lift each other up in ways that are authentic? To give positive feedback instead of being withholding for reasons of control or our own “stuff?” What if, as we work to become more secure with our own sweet beings, we can support our fellow humans as they work to do the same? What if we can gently encourage each other to find the humor and levity in our shared ridiculousness?
Want to join me this week on a mission of patience, acceptance, humor, and love?
Kris Carr always nails it : )
Have a great one, Celebrationists. You are wonderful, unique, and important to this world. Now go write out 10 things that you legitimately enjoy about yourself. You deserve it : )