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 open still, 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. Jash Reen | Artist, Writer.
HIS BIGGEST INSECURITY? HAVING TO ADHERE TO TOO MANY PEOPLE IN A ROOM
“I don’t care about looking great; I just step out of the house. But the minute I’m out I’m just like ‘wow I look like an urchin compared to these people.’ I’ve always had that as my biggest insecurity. It extends to stupid things like my wrist, my face…it used to be like that.”
Having insecurities is your excuse to find more people like you and redefine strength, as we know it. When we lose ourselves, we find each other.
Initially, Jash’s first insecurity was that he hadn’t eaten enough. He felt that he looked weak and so people wouldn’t take him seriously. “It’s a stupid thing, I thought I wouldn’t be taken seriously because I was scrawny, I looked invisible, like someone they would pass by… It’s not the case now but I remember attributing it to food.” Jash felt very insecure about not “being seen” in the professional world. He links it to a “complex about being Indian.”
His childhood played a big part in the insecurities he faces today as an adult. When he was young he would generally lash out and create chaos. “There was a time when I went out and broke an entire garden, at the age of seven or something…I didn’t have any recollection of why I was doing it, I just remember the pots were broken.”
Jash felt pretty alienated growing up. He didn’t make friends easily in school; he says he was “weird.” In secondary school, the boys would talk about girls and dating and he just wasn’t into that at all. Not that he didn’t like women he says, “I just felt that world wasn’t for me. People meeting up, hanging out, creating relationships, that wasn’t me and I wasn’t worth that.” School was very hard for him. “It was one of the most unforgiving things ever,” he confesses. Being in an all boys school in the ‘90s it was all about “who’s the most manly, the best at sports. I found myself a bit feminine. I used to love Bold & The Beautiful. At the same time, I was watching Star Wars so it was balanced.”
As a kid, Jash got beat up and bullied. His “submissive fear of people comes from there” and his “image issues” too. He started living in a fictional world; Edward Scissor hands, Alfred Hitchcock that was his escape into a world he says “will never let you down. Some people say it’s unrealistic and stupid but it is the most beautiful medium.”
Joshua was the first friend Jash made. They played video games and hung out. In the sixth grade, he finally felt like he had his “cliquk”. He started to find himself more.
Later in life, when he moved to Singapore he dealt with his insecurities by detaching himself from reality. “I played different characters with different people. Only when I was alone, you could see just how insecure I was because I hadn’t dealt with or faced any of those things. I was just trying to go out there. And it helped for a while.”
The first time he started having panic attacks was when he left Singapore for Bombay. He started getting stomach pain. “I went to a stomach doctor. He treated me for six months. My girlfriend and loved ones just couldn’t understand what was going on. The doctors couldn’t understand either. Until one day a doctor said ‘maybe it’s all in his head’. I was infuriated.”
Finally, someone made him accept the fact that it might be a mental thing and that he should seek help. “I was like ‘No I feel like my heart is going to stop’, my hands were shaking. I had a job. I found it hard to tell my colleagues because I felt I would be treated as a weaker link and eliminated therefore.”
He experienced uncomfortable moments with the people closest to him because he wouldn’t talk about what was going on. He felt people wouldn’t understand. “From being an extrovert I went to being an introvert trying to hold on to the extrovert I used to be. That was the struggle.”
Jash stopped going out, got to work late. He would make up excuses to avoid being out, till one day he talked to his business partner. He also started taking medication; it got better but also killed his empathy even more. It kept him sterilized causing more problems in his relationships. His loved ones didn’t know how to react. “I was 100% breaking. It is the invisible sickness that they refuse to treat.”
He realized at that moment that you can’t love and help people if you can’t do the same for yourself first.
His job is very demanding and requires him to travel, waking up in different cities often. Those are the hardest moments, the ones alone in his hotel room when the thoughts and questions just flood his mind. “You wonder if anybody thinks about you, if anybody cares…all these stupid things.” His struggle with his insecurities has made him a more sympathetic person. It’s made him the type of guy who takes an extra second to see where people are coming from. “You understand more about people. It’s an interactive thing,” he shares.
Social gatherings usually trigger his insecurities. He feels we live in a society where people are constantly looking for validation whether it is through social media or parties; “People are not out to just have a good time. They’re looking for a story. No one is just there to be. Bombay is becoming like that. In a room where everyone tries to say ‘me, me, me’ I get suffocated.” Now, when he feels insecure, he can step back, identify what’s going on and reconnect with his environment. When discussing the evolution of his insecurity, Jash put forth a very interesting concept. “It’s evolved in a sense like a mass evolution.” Most Humans experience the same emotions so as she justly says; “If we’re all going through this, fear becomes commonplace and immunity happens. It’s there but it’s not going to kill you. That’s evolution to me.”
Of late, he’s discussed his insecurities with his business partner. He doesn’t expect him to be more forgiving but his partner knows what to do to empower him. He’s learned not be governed by money too. Everything is in “flux” right now, “the industry of marriage, companies… others are going through the same thing. You can’t go through the template your parents set up for you.” He’s currently trying to work on loving himself while being accountable to his friends and family.
II. Jim Sarbh | Actor mostly, director rarely.
HIS BIGGEST INSECURITY? NOT BEING COMPLETE
“This could manifest in any sphere of my life (mental, physical, material), and usually does. I am not fit, smart, funny, good looking, fashionable, respectful, humble, kind enough. I can’t sing, dance, ice skate, do quantum physics. I don’t know anything about politics, I don’t actively try to help alleviate the suffering of the world, my lower teeth look weird, I’m too short, I am selfish, narrow-minded, and hedonistic. God doesn’t speak to me. I’m not the chosen one. I am not a genius. I am a spoilt brat little dust mite.”
Having insecurities is inescapable. Suffering because of them is optional.
Jim believes there is no defining moment that shaped this insecurity. It just happens, as does life. “Perhaps, it begins when you are taken from the womb, in my case a caesarian, and then, the world begins to work on you, trying to ensure this insecurity stays for ever. Most parents are still battling their own demons, wherefore do they have the understanding to begin to reinforce a child’s wholeness, as opposed to their incompleteness, their lack. And the world runs on promoting feelings of incompleteness. If we felt complete, secure in ourselves just as we are, we wouldn’t need to buy anything.”
Jim doesn’t remember the first time he felt insecure, however his incompleteness is always present, lurking and “coloring” his experience. He has a process to deal with it: “First I feel it. Then I suffer. Then I try to look at it. Sometimes I can see it. Then I try to call it by its name. Then I laugh.”
For example, “Let’s say someone else can do something better than I can. Then, I assume that something about them is consequently better than my entire being. I attribute my lack to the fact that there is something inherently wrong with me: in addition to my faulty genes resulting in my lack of talent, I am too lazy and undisciplined to whip my mediocre talent into shape.”
His insecurity usually makes him angry with his parents for the way he was raised, at himself for being incapable of change, with the person for the talent they have and he lacks, and inherently with the world “for having a hierarchical value system.” He’s pretty self-aware and isn’t afraid to call out his own mind’s “bullshit” though. They are “all absurdities invented by a mind that is so self-centered that it would choose suffering over wholeness simply because wholeness means going through and beyond the mind,” he laughs it off, instead of shutting down completely. With time, he’s been able to understand his insecurity better. But sometimes, insecurities can be a little tricky and just as you think you’ve mastered them, they become more “subtle and elusive.” This year, Jim has decided to “settle down,” letting go of what he calls the “absurdly grand ideas” he had for what life could be. “I have to accept life as one big settlement. It’s never enough. Only once I properly accept that, will I be able to see that it’s enough and more. It’s so loopy, insecurity.”
He admits that the anger induced by his insecurity has made him act like an “asshole.” The anger within gets turned outwards. “You’re an asshole to some unsuspecting bystander, or you meet love with disdain, or you act aloof to hide, or you bitch about somebody behind their back, or you wish you were someone, anybody else: some sublimation of this incompleteness happens. The trick is to catch it before you express it, and laugh, laugh, laugh at it. As far as I can tell, there’s no way to shut it up.”
This feeling of incompleteness has affected his life in many ways. The impact is “huge” he confides. He’s discussed this feeling with people who are close to him and recognizes that it gets “simultaneously better and worse. Better because suffering loves company, worse because vulnerability hates exposure”.
III. Ria Ana Sejpal | Artist, dreamer, adrenaline junkie & beach bum. Food, wine and dog lover. Co-Founder of the sustainable accessories brand, The AnaRae Store.
HER BIGGEST INSECURITY? BODY IMAGE.
“When I was younger I struggled with severe body image issues - it was related to my physical being but the problem was entrenched in much deeper roots. I was conscious of my body and face; conscious of how I looked: I was so unequivocally aware of the minute details that did not match up to what you see in magazines or what people seemed to expect of me.”-
Having insecurities is only natural. It should never break your confidence or self-worth; everyone has something they’re insecure about.
Like many kids throughout the world, Ria was bullied in school. In her case, it was for “having a big nose”; some friends also called her “fat”. Ria was a very focused and healthy young woman representing Kenya in International swimming competitions. One day, after she had just returned from a six-week holiday in the United States one of her friends mother looked at her and said, “Oh you got fat.” She was at a dance class in front of all her friends. She was fourteen. That was the defining moment. Only later did she realize the toll those comments took on her level of self-love.
Getting in front of the camera helps, “it’s therapeutic in a way because it gives me the freedom to do what I want with my body”, she confides. This authenticity transcends in her work as co-owner of The AnaRae Store. They never Photoshop or retouch the models and generally work with friends on their different campaigns. “It’s important to live the message you want to share regardless of who will or won’t see it.” When she feels insecure Ria gets very conscious and awkward, comparison kicks in. It “can break your confidence, it’s a terrible feeling”, she admits. She recalls this one time she was doing a TV commercial and had to stand around while people discussed her body and looks. These situations can be tough as judgment is based entirely on appearance.
Our insecurities like us evolve and change. When she moved to Mumbai two years ago it was difficult to adapt to the culture. What is socially acceptable here is not in another country or city. “When someone you barely know says you’ve become so fat since you moved to Mumbai, it’s not something that is socially accepted where I’m from: it’s considered rude if anything. However, a comment like that will stick with you unless you learn how to deal with someone blatantly picking on you. It’s all a learning process.” Ria works out regularly, challenging herself. She does concede it “hurts to hear peoples’ judgment”. But as she so justly points out “Haters are going to hate.” She’s learned to not pay attention to what other people think or say, “snarky comments, criticism and warped expectations: that speaks more of other peoples’ insecurities rather than my own.”
Sharing her insecurities with her friends and family is not an issue, many of them also face insecurities about their beauty, affected by the gossip and “digitally warped bodies sprawled across the media.” For her, insecurities are linked to deeper issues, “I don’t think insecurities about the way you look are superficial: rather they speak to your self-esteem, self-conviction, self-worth.”
IV. Rohan Agnani
HIS BIGGEST INSECURITY? HIS PHYSICAL SELF.
“It stems from my inability to have a control over my eating habits, inability to keep any kind of physical routine as well as being conscious about my physique takes me back to the zillion rejections I have met with not just sexually, but even socially.”
Having insecurities is very educational with regard to self-concept.
The first time Rohan felt insecure was on a gay dating site, when he uploaded his picture. He didn’t know Indian Gay men “are phobic” to “cute chubby men”. He got various reactions and ultimately faced rejection from his own community. It was “hilariously damaging.” He didn’t care much for it but somehow when we are rejected, that tends to linger in the backs of our minds. It has, however, never stopped him from doing what he wants. The way he deals with it is through “hope.” Hope that there are people out there that will accept him the way he is. It’s a “never dying hope” really.
His insecurity makes it difficult to keep up his level of self-confidence. It fluctuates. He builds up on it and then “bang” it’s gone. As he confides, “I never get too bogged down with these things…I cycle back to my confident self in some time, of course!” Humour and laughter are really the two key things, “seeing humour in all possible situations is the best way out.” It helps him deal with it.
He’s evolved throughout the years into a “less insecure space,” when he meets new people. Having met his partner (which he admits to being in absolute “mad-cake-blush-heart-baby-kuchikoo” love with) changed things for him in a positive way too.
Funnily enough, Rohan, was doing to others what they were doing to him, which is, judging them for their physical appearance. That’s when he realized he had to become what he wanted people to be.
Generally he feels insecure when he’s at a club or a social event. Sometimes, it also occurs in the professional workspace as well. People who are slim don’t realize it but “being surrounded by lovely men and women and their most amazing clothes” is not easy because they are not available to him “off the counter.”
Living with this physical insecurity no longer has a visible effect on Rohan. As he says, “yes it’s there, sitting like that chipped paint portion on a wall. The more you fiddle with it the more damage you are going to do.” Opening up to his friends and family about his insecurity has made him feel much better. He realized that his insecurities were no different from what others experienced. It gave him a sense of relief. “Talking and knowing that I am not the only one helps. It’s just natural to have them!”
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.]