Insecurities: Uncertainty or anxiety about oneself, also know as a lack of self-confidence.
The most obvious truths are often the most important ones. For starters, we live in a highly objectifying society. Many of us ‘mortals’ tend to go through the motions of our daily life almost passively, accepting the hundreds of messages being hurled our way through media, advertising and public scrutiny, without second thought. Or at least, without a thought we dare to vocalise. It does manifest in more insidious ways though - ‘The world is too scary, we’re not beautiful like the person in the latest ad, and we’re not changing the world like Malala is either.’
In a nutshell, we’re not good enough. And if you crack the nut inside the shell further, you’ll find that almost every single one of us is crippled by our own insecurities—be it physical, mental, or regarding one’s own safety—thanks to our desire to reach a hypothetical finish line in an exceedingly competitive world.
It is interesting to note, however, how unwilling we’ve become to talk about them.
The social media perfect-life fantasy often alienates us from the reality of what makes us human beings. We revel in our accomplishments and strengths, always shying away from what breaks or weakens us. We’ll sit down and chit chat about the latest TV shows or the next big deal we’re cracking but rarely will we discuss the monsters lurking in the dark. This lack of genuine connection isolates us, bringing about fear and judgment. And herein lies the problem. The sooner we realise that there’s no formulaic escape from our insecurities, the closer we are to being free of their weight. When we let this so-called skeleton out of our closets, it often feels like it wasn’t such a big deal at all. Perhaps then, the trick is just in letting the cat out of the bag once and for all, letting go our need for perfection.
This #HGInsecurities campaign set out to do just that. We got a wide range of brave, young people to discuss what they often hide in an attempt to uncover their most authentic and vulnerable selves. Yes, you can be a successful business owner and feel insecure; you can be a thriving artist and live your life with fear, too. However far along you’ve come, however high or low you feel, there is probably someone else or many others just like you, pretending like their lives are perfect, but hurting on the inside.
When we began reaching out to people for their thoughts, some were instantly weary and uncomfortable. “I have insecurities, but feel too insecure about sharing it online,” they said. Others clearly stated, “I have no insecurities.” The rest agreed, and it is these people’s honest words you are about to read.
What are you insecure about?
I. Amit K Tida | Botanist. Shaman’s Apprentice. Nature Activist.
His biggest insecurity? Being himself - From the mind to the body.
Amit’s insecurities started in his early school years, when he wasn’t able to express himself in the social/normal way. He was told he’s Dyslexic and has ADHD; “At the time, this had no actual name apart from being seen as a disability. It was the moment where I felt change,” he explains.
“Having insecurities is the greatest software the brain can programme for you. Having insecurities leads to a teaching about ourselves, you have to hack your insecurities and reprogram them. In my own opinion, plants have a major role in teaching humans more about humans. Learning from a plant can be seen as strange, but in all logic, plants keep us alive by producing free air, free food and even the money used to ‘buy’ food is made from a plant.”
It all unfolded this one time, at a school play. His teacher tried to do something new. It was decided that Amit would be the narrator. A young boy back then, he was very excited! That’s when the trouble started. “I got on stage and started stuttering,” he says. He was seven. He just couldn’t stop stuttering, and it was a tough moment for him.
He determines these difficult moments as the events that unlocked his brain activity. “I’m very happy I got those moments.” Being qualified, as a kid with dyslexia and ADHD is what he says, helped him become a filmmaker.
Not finding a way to express himself through words and speech was a blessing in disguise as he had to find another outlet for his expression. “Films and software allow me to express myself in another medium which talking and writing wouldn’t fill,” he muses.
When he’s insecure there is this cloud of doubt, which in turn affects him emotionally. “Depression is the final result that is formed with doubt.” While others might choose to fill the void with busyness and artificial substances, Amit filled his with plants. Through that “gift” he managed to take things further.
Amit has quite a positive outlook on how his insecurities have evolved. According to him, “it’s only made life better. It helps you understand yourself better, become your own super mutant, hero or Jedi power. George Lukas designed Jedis with flaws.”
His insecurity has shaped him. “It’s a part of me,” he says smiling, “it’s made me be able to laugh at myself.” Writing is still a sore point but he’s chosen to accept it and doesn’t correct his spelling mistakes anymore. That’s just a part of who he is. He’s also amazed at “how simple sounds can affect the mind.”
“A stutter for a word which has no meaning, triggering a small laughter from someone, me receiving the sound of laughter and perceiving it as negative.” When there is so much darkness in the mind, whatever is outside triggers it. Discussing his insecurities is not something Amit does frequently, admitting he doesn’t like feeling “less than another Human.”
As a society we do have an addiction to labels whether we acknowledge it or not. That, he points out is the root of all harm. “We’re always looking to define ourselves. Any issue within is always linked with a lack of self-love. A skill that is natural within us, a task that links us to our existence. Humans are white blood cells in the whole ecosystem. We are all healers.”
II. Joyeeta Kar | Designer, stylist and educator. Currently teaching at Pearl Academy. Has her own label JOY CLOTHING.
Her biggest insecurity? Losing something or someone.
“Losing people is my biggest insecurity because I have this tendency to get attached to people easily and quickly,” Joyeeta shares.
“Having insecurities is a waste of time. You will have insecurities. If you don’t have insecurities, it means you’re dead.”
For Joyeeta, insecurities arise from having a preconceived notion or expectation. We all tend to have expectations or ideals in our mind, you know this idea that “this is what it’s going to be like.” Most times the situations we’ve imagined don’t occur, and that’s where it all starts. “It starts from assumptions and preconceived notions about life.”
Her insecurity started in school. We all know what school feels like; we want to be seen, be cool. We want to be noticed for our performances whether in sports or academics. “When you realize suddenly that you can’t achieve something, that the moment has gone, it’s out of your hands. That I feel I’m insecure about”.
As a young girl, Joyeeta used to love playing basketball. There was this sports teacher who used to throw the ball in student’s faces. “I was so scared,” she confides. “It was the same with ice skating, she used to make sure we would fall. Now, I can’t play basketball or ice skate.” Her response to her teacher’s style of education was fear. That’s just how it is, sometimes events happen and you don’t overcome them, and then they turn into fear leading to insecurities.
Joyeeta has had quite a number of experiences so far. She’s been living away from home for almost 9 years now. “In due course I’ve just realized it is people I’m very insecure about. If I lose them, I feel the world has come to an end.” But gradually, with time, she’s been able to control those emotions. Now, when she feels she’s getting attached to someone or a particular situation she tells her mind to “let go.” No one knows what “tomorrow holds”, she justly points out.
Right now, Joyeeta does not feel insecure as such. She’s been through four years of reflecting and learning which has enabled her to take a step back and analyze the situation from a distance. She doesn’t believe people who say they aren’t insecure. “You will be insecure about something, someone, some body parts, actions, situations because nothing is in your control at the end of the day.”
Joyeeta says that if she had been interviewed a couple of years back when in college; her answer would have probably been very different. This is also what is interesting to point out; our insecurities evolve, disappear and transform throughout the years.
Today, when she doesn’t get treated the way she treats people, “it’s ok.” She acknowledges they might be at a different phase in life. She decided she couldn’t compare her situation with others. Today she has a more ‘controlled’ life; she’s working, earning a living. She’s in a good space.
“I feel people should explore more and challenge themselves to understand what insecurities are. When people say I’m not insecure about anything, I’m very surprised.” She’s very aware of her insecurities. Her motto: “That’s ok, such is life, maybe there is something else set for you. You just keep working. Till the time is right and you are in proper balance, things are never going to fall in place. There is no point thinking about what I don’t have.”
Like many of us, Joyeeta has friends who’ve lived through similar situations but unlike her, they were closed to them. “They didn’t let it happen, learn from it and move on to the other stage.” Her outlook on life is pretty clear, “Bad things and good things will happen, you need to let it and have the courage to build strength from it. You will go ahead at your pace. The people you meet are your teachers.”
If she is feeling insecure she just has to breathe it out, that’s her thing. She also starts fixing her appearance, trying to be more self-aware.
Joyeeta has suffered and learned from her insecurity. She didn’t shy away from the pain. Whether professionally or personally, she points out we all have that one thing that makes us unique; “What is your thing that you have and no one else does?” she asks. She’s glad these insecurities happened and at this age too. It’s made her stronger and more self-aware. There has been no shame in talking about it with friends. They have helped her.
Joyeeta shared this quote that pretty much sums up the conversation we had:
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the sky, keep working”
Let’s keep working!
III. Neville Bhandara | Writer and aspiring novelist. Lover of books, music, food and travel. Currently a senior writer and copy editor at Homegrown.
His biggest insecurity? His anxiety.
“It flares up from time to time and sometimes it can be hard to control,” Neville admits. “I’m not sure how and why it started but I don’t think I’ll ever forget the first time. I was out and something happened and it was like a switch flipped in my head and everything was suddenly very different and very scary.”
“Having insecurities is probably a part of life. Everyone is insecure about something or the other. It’d just be nice if people understood.”
Neville experiences his insecurity in a very physical way. In his case, it is related to the fear of being faced with a panic attack. Therefore, all situations are a cause for insecurity. Panic attacks can strike anytime, anywhere making it more difficult to handle. The first time he faced this insecurity, he was physically disoriented. “My heart began racing, I was nauseated and I felt like I was going to either throw up or pass out. I was panicking and that probably didn’t help. I jumped into a cab and went to my doctor. I was shaking and my unsteady hands eventually froze. I tried opening them, but I couldn’t. They were just stuck like that – almost claw-like.” That day Neville’s doctor gave him some medication to relieve the anxiety. “Your body, your mind…nothing responds. You’re just stuck there watching things go by in sort of slow motion.”
Dealing with insecurities such as anxiety is harsh for the body. It takes a long time to gain back the confidence lost in that moment of total chaos. He is still dealing with this. Some days are better than others. “Thankfully, I haven’t had an episode in a while—but I’m terrified of having one.” He manages his stress levels by distracting himself. Medication is also a go-to in case an attack “sneaks up” on him.
Neville’s insecurity takes place in phases. It’s not constant and that adds to the fear because there is no control. “Last year I went through a really rough patch, which lasted months. I kept oscillating from happy and outgoing, to depressed and introverted. I stopped going out. I just wanted to be at home, in my comfort zone. I didn’t see a lot of people except my closest friends.” The most difficult part about this is, that one minute you are one person and the next you’re entirely different. One of his closest friends who witnessed an episode of panic attacks said: “It was like you were someone else. I’ve never seen you like that before.” As Neville confided, when something like this happens it is pretty scary because it changes you completely. He has, however, trained himself to be more aware so he can now sense when his anxiety level is rising. The first signs he notices? Sweaty palms, and a spinning head.
His personal experience has made him aware that most people don’t really understand anxiety. His close friends, however, have mastered the art of picking up on the warning signs. They know how he is feeling before he utters a word. The indicators are “mostly repetitive actions: I start to play with my hair, compulsively crack my knuckles, fold my arms across my chest and keep rubbing my upper arms like I’m feeling cold. “My speech also gets affected because my head gets so fuzzy. I struggle to convey what I want to or forget what I’m saying mid-sentence,” he explains.
In this particular case, it isn’t easy to pinpoint what triggers this insecurity. Anxiety is painful that way, it can be triggered by any number of things. At some point, Neville thought it might be purely health related, blood pressure, or something else. So he did what any of us would do, he got himself checked out. Everything was normal. At his lowest point Neville dropped “six kilos in two months without doing anything,” he says. Still, despite dealing with his anxiety, Neville’s personality remains largely the same. If you don’t know him, you can’t tell what he’s going through. He says it himself; he’s not an emotional person. Ironically enough, he’s quite stoic, and does not let much get to him. This is, as he confides, the “only thing that can completely throw me off track.”
He remains pretty open and discusses his insecurities with his close circle out of choice. “There is no point in hiding it. The problem we have in this country is that nobody talks about things. Everything is just pushed under the rug. And dealing with things like anxiety and depression are a lot harder if you do it alone.” His family and friends have been very supportive and understanding. “The single worst thing anyone can say in the middle of an anxiety attack is ‘come on, it’s not such a big deal. Stop getting paranoid.’ Boom. The gates of hell open.”
Anxiety is a vicious circle; he confides, “It sucks to be anxious about anxiety. You spend so much time worrying you’re going to have another attack that you leave a lot of things by the wayside and become very detached and apathetic.”
He’s very determined to not let that state of mind prevail but believes that calling his insecurity an irrational fear is also discounting it. As he says, “you can’t just tell someone to get over it. If it was easy, we’d all do it.”
IV. Rasna Bhasin | 22. Brand Consultant.
Her biggest insecurity? Being ignored or forgotten.
“I sometimes feel people are angry or pissed at me even when they aren’t. It’s a trait to think the worst of situations.”
“Having insecurities is normal. It makes you, you, it makes you human. It makes you have feelings, and whether negative or positive, it helps in growing you as a person.”
Rasna can’t pinpoint where this insecurity stems from. She sees herself as a generally “really self-assured” person. People are what matter to her. She fears hurting people, especially if it is something that happens unwillingly.
The first time she felt insecure was when she left school for college. “When you’ve been in a cocoon for like 14 years with people to fall back on and suddenly you’re in a new environment, there were insecurities,” she shares. She’s dealt with these emotions through these formative years.
She used to get paranoid about people not responding to her text messages when she was younger. Now she tries not to take it personally. “People are busy and it takes time.” However, if she feels something is bothering her in the back of her mind, she will reach out and call the person to “reassure” herself. “There was a time I used to get really really hyper,” she admits. She would assume the worst and then give in to blaming herself. She’s grown out of that now, thankfully, and she’s more than capable of cutting off unwanted situations although she admits she “can’t let go of people easily”.
She believes that as she is getting older, with it comes more self-confidence, a sense of belief in herself and her abilities. Experience has made her a better judge of character. “We all make mistakes, as long as we can own up to them, learn and move ahead and try not make them again. So I think it’s okay. It’s okay to piss off people, it’s okay to fight, and you aren’t a jar of Nutella, so you can’t please everybody. Please yourself first”.
Rasna relates quite positively to her insecurity. She feels it has made her more confident. She used to be what we call a people-pleaser: “For a very long time I did a lot of things for others and though I didn’t expect anything in return, I used to end up hurt and calling myself stupid.” That trait of her personality hasn’t disappeared, she still does things for other people, it’s a “habit.” The only difference is, she just let’s go of it. It keeps her “saner and happier.”
Rasna is afraid of being forgotten or ignored so it makes perfect sense when she says she feels insecure when “people don’t respond.” She says, “you know, you observe, we all do, and you see they’re doing everything but just not responding to you.”
Dealing with her insecurity has helped her grow and learn how to treat people better. She tries to avoid doing to others what she doesn’t appreciate. Discussing her insecurity with her friends has also helped to overcome them. She started speaking up and telling people it bothered her when they “ignored” her, “and I think over a period of time I was over it.”
She believes her insecurity is a little irrational and that it probably stems from the fact that she had a sheltered and loving environment. It was “maybe a little associated with being a girl who came from an extremely protected and loved environment, and then entering the world on her own. So it totally depends.”
V. Roxane Sabatier | Former Events Manager. Mother, housewife.
Her biggest insecurity? Being unable to cope with her anxiety.
Roxane’s anxiety started years ago. “It started when I was in a tough relationship and I had anxiety attacks daily. I had to take in too many emotions and kept them all in. At that point, my body was just telling me to end the relationship. Even though this is what triggered it, I think the anxiety was always there and this situation made it manifest itself.”
“Having insecurities is something you have to go through in life!”
Roxane remembers very clearly when she first started to feel insecure. One day, when she was in her early teens her family decided to leave India and move to France. That’s when things started to shift for her. “It was in 1997; A whole new life, new school, new city, new people. Adapting was super tough and I never got used to it. Not being able to fit in with my surroundings or get along with people made me feel very insecure.” That first year away from home in a very cold city in the North of France, Roxane went through many different phases, at times inventing illnesses to avoid dealing with her surroundings.
She was an insecure teen removed from everything she had known and loved.
Throughout the years however she has managed to “tame” her anxiety, she confides. She’s found opening up about her emotions has helped her: “Talking about it with members of my family and people who have been through the same thing helps. On a day-to-day basis, I am learning to let go, which isn’t easy for me. I try to tell my mind that everything will be ok and that I can manage on my own. When I have an anxiety attack, I try to relax and breathe.”
Generally when she is insecure the feeling of loneliness creeps up on her. She feels incapable of doing things on her own. Physically this translates in a huge knot in her stomach, which is difficult to get rid off. At the peak of her anxiety attacks she can suffer from lack of appetite and nausea to name a few.
After moving back to India a couple of years ago, it seems Roxane has found a certain sense of stability she was looking for. She recently became a mother to a now six-months-old little boy too. “I have less anxiety attacks than a few years ago. I can more or less deal with them now whereas before they would paralyze me and I wouldn’t be able to do anything during the attacks during the earlier stages,” she shares. She recognizes that anxiety is a very crippling issue. As she says; “When you have anxiety attacks it is almost impossible to interact with people. You just want to crawl in a hole and hide. Furthermore, it is very difficult to explain it to them, and for people to understand. In times like these, I would only interact with the people closest to me. Today, I can meet people when I have anxiety but I’m not the same person. I feel closed up and have trouble speaking with them. The only thing I think of is this horrible feeling in my stomach and how to get rid of it.”
We could say that Roxane likes to control things; the illusion of it gives her a sense of peace. “I like controlling things so when something impromptu comes up, I get anxiety. Or when I’m alone…or when I have to do something out of the ordinary.”
Her anxiety causes her to feel insecure and doubt her capacities. It also has an impact on her personality. She feels “less bubbly and happy.” She also confides that she can get “super snappy and nervous”. Her close circle is usually quick to note when she is going through this and offers help and comfort. “When you have anxiety attacks you feel sad and dark. No positive thoughts. I was very unhappy for two years when I had daily attacks. I think this has improved a lot as I have taken steps to make it better. I can’t say that I’m totally happy but I’m getting there. These kind of things take time. You have to heal and reconstruct yourself.”
Roxane has managed to be open about her experience and she managed to find guidance in her sister who went through something similar before her. “It helps a lot to exchange and see that you aren’t all alone in these situations.”
Roxane has been open about her experience and managed to find guidance.
Words, Images & Editing by Lils Sab
[Note to readers: Do you feel it might help you to share your own insecurities with the world, or that it might help somebody else? If yes, drop us a line at [email protected] with the subject line ‘INSECURITIES.’ We’d love to hear and share your story.]