By Tiffany A. Potter
1. uncertainty or anxiety about oneself; lack of confidence.
There are some days when my insecurities are palpable, a feeling so intense that I can feel it in my bones. It’s these days that my cup runneth over with doubts surrounding everything from my abilities, to my intelligence, from my depth of compassion, and my strengths as a teacher and change agent, and, truthfully, to just how easy it is to love–or even like–me. Most of the time I’m extremely confident, most of the time the human being that I wish to be is actually who’s looking back at me in the mirror… most of the time. It’s those other times that seem to send me into a sizeable funk for the better part of a day (or two).
The spiritualist in me understands that you can’t have the wins unless you also have the losses, that you can’t have the light without also experiencing the dark, that you can’t feel good about yourself unless you recognize the feelings of insecurity and doubt…but logic and rationality hardly, if ever, comforts me enough to make me feel better in the moment. The root of my insecurity, perhaps everyone’s insecurity, is feeling vulnerable. Some scholars even say that personal insecurity is what draws people into religion. This much is clear to me when I’m feeling exposed to the world, more importantly, to those in my world who hold a special place in my life, I’m at risk.
As a consultant in my everyday life, I stand in front of hundreds of people at a time to teach my audiences practical, systematic approaches and solutions to challenging problems. I’m clear and concise, and even a little funny, to make my training interesting and successful. Another part of my life is as a keynote speaker for events, usually of the personal nature. Organizations ask me to share my life experiences–good and bad–in the hopes of inspiring others in their own lives.
Last month was just one of those talks for the Fresno County Women’s Chamber of Commerce. It was a shorter talk than I normally give (30 minutes in length–half the time that I usually speak) but the nerves were present regardless. And just this week I had a difficult and awkward conversation with a friend who I’ve felt often looks right through me. (Side note: I can’t stress enough the meaning of awkward. I was a bumbling idiot when trying to convey my point. But then, I suppose most all conversations about real, true, authentic feelings are awkward by their very nature. Confrontation hardly comes easily to me but sometimes it just must be done.)
In both of these moments of speaking my truth, the common denominator was the requirement of my vulnerability in order to get my point across; coupled, of course, with the dreadful feelings of “once I open my mouth there’s no turning back.” And it’s only scary because it matters, right? It matters to me that I show up for my audiences; just maybe something that I share about my own journey will have a profound and positive impact on an audience member who needed to hear that very thing in that very moment of their own. And it matters to me that my deeply entrenched feelings that rise to the surface because of someone’s behavior in my life, be delivered with gentle authenticity in the hopes that they will hear me and meet those feelings with soft compassion.
For work I can stand in front of groups of people and rattle off facts and procedures in a very fine-tuned training course which requires very little sharing of my personal self, but ask me to tell the story of my life or express raw emotions to an unsuspecting friend, and my insecurities (which are based on fear, of course) run rampant.
I have always had this tendency to be extremely hard on myself. Being gentle in the times that my head feels as though I should be reacting differently to external stimuli, versus how my heart feels at the moment, has been quite the challenge for as long as I can remember. Confident, stoic, and in control on the outside is what I believe I portray to the outside world. But a big pile of shambolic mush who wears her heart on her sleeve and feels things deeply and desperately is really who I am at my very core. Inside I will forever be that little girl who just wants the kids on the playground to want to play with her, and not run away from her because she doesn’t look like everyone else. I want to be, need to be, seen and heard at a very cellular level; but then, don’t we all?
I’ve spent 40 years on this Earth (in this life) and I’m still learning to feel my way through it all. Some days I do great, some days I fail miserably at “handling it”. Disappointment, feeling left out, fear of showing real, scary, emotion with no indication that it–they–will be treated with kid gloves or turn out well, being rejected, falling short of being a good friend, feeling helpless in making this world a better place for those people and animals that suffer needlessly, are all parts of my life, parts of my soul that keep me up at night. But what I know is this, my insecurities- your own insecurities, dear one–are as much a part of our journeys as bravery and courage will ever be as we evolve.
We are in times unlike many of us have ever seen before. Between social media trolls and the politics of our day, rooted in adults who don’t know how to be nice, keeping ourselves grounded in empathy and acceptance (for ourselves and each other) feels like a monumental task. May we all learn to be gentle and accepting of ourselves and each other as we survive these times, insecurities, competition, divisiveness, and all.
Tiffany is a disability consultant, entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, and change agent. Find her at: www.TiffanysTake.com Instagram: Tiffanys_Take.columnist