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If you’re anything like me, then you probably spend a good part of your waking hours (quietly) dealing with your personal insecurities (“Am I smart enough?” “Creative enough?” “Cool enough?”) and the remainder on a perennial journey to ‘self discovery’, ‘improvement’, and making a positive mark on the world.
Now before there are any misgivings about what is behind this post, I’m going to stop you right there. This is not a feeble attempt at garnering sympathy or praise (but, Jackie, you are smart/creative/cool enough…). This is simply an honest confession about the inner workings of my brain. I’ve come to learn, with time and experience, that many of my thoughts, feelings, and fears are not unique. In fact, they are anything but. My own insecurities are not my ‘own’ at all. Rather, they are the same insecurities shared by many… maybe even most.
It’s not something I like to readily admit – my insecurity that is – especially when I’m commended for my ‘confidence’ and ‘sense of self’. And the confidence isn’t a facade. It’s there. A lot of the time. But there’s considerably more to it than meets the eye and, as it’s been said time and again, it’s not so ‘black and white’.
Failure has always been my greatest fear and my capacity for intellect my most harboured insecurity. My level of intelligence has plagued me with self-doubt, and I can’t quite pinpoint why this is. At times, I’m my own biggest critic and my own worst enemy. I’m sure that if I (emotionally) beat my friends down the way I sometimes beat myself down, I would be left… in a house… all alone… with my cats. And I don’t even like cats.
For myself, at least, I feel that the more you know and the more skilled you are, the more likely you are to experience success.
And then, of course, there are ‘street smarts’ and ‘networking’. If you ‘fraternize’ with the right people, do you increase your prospects for success? And are the “right” people the ones with the smarts? If you hang out with them, will you be smarter by osmosis, or will you be left to pick up the shards of your brain that have been cut like a knife by the sharpness and wittiness of those much sharper and wittier than you?
It’s like when you show up to a great party, and the host(ess)-with-the-mostess, magna cum laude, Ivy league graduate, with the perfect everything, tells a brilliant anecdote, and while everyone else is nodding along in agreement, all that your brain has to say for itself is, “W-T-F?!?! Am I the only one who didn’t ‘get’ it???”
Sometimes, that’s how life feels. Like an endless parade of party-goers-come-story-tellers, relaying quips that you just… don’t… get.
So instead of chiming in and looking like the token “moron” who can’t make sense of things, you smile and nod along with the
best rest of them. Because, like me, you’re afraid of looking ‘stupid’ or ‘feeble minded’ even when you know (you know!) that you’re a smart cookie…
And you wonder. How many of those smilers-and-nodders are secretly, internally going through their own struggle of not feeling ‘cool enough’, ‘smart enough’, ‘creative enough’… ’cause I’ll be damned if I’m the only one.
Then, of course, there’s that immense pressure to ‘succeed’ (whatever that means). But how does one accurately measure success when there are so many barometers? Does success mean finding a cure for cancer? Winning an Oscar? Becoming the CEO of a Fortune 500 company? Acting as the matriarch/patriarch of a close-knit family? Who, exactly, are we measuring ourselves against, and does this determine the likelihood that we might set ourselves up for failure if our measurements are off?
Conversely, do our grand ambitions (and those of others) make us strive to become our best (most successful) selves, in a world that is rife with competition, constantly throwing roadblocks in our direction? And if we don’t achieve every single goal that we set out to attain, does that make us ‘failures’? If we fully commit and aspire, only to learn that things don’t always go as we intended them to, does that mean we didn’t achieve some level of success?
Let me let you in on something: if you’re learning, you’re not failing. You’re growing. And that’s success. At least this is what I tell my fear, when it rears its ugly little head… which it oft does.
So, my dear readers, my question to you is this: what are your greatest fears and insecurities? And how do/will you overcome them? You can keep them to yourselves or, if you’re feeling bold, you can comment on this post. But just know this.
You’re not alone.