Picture this. You’re walking down the street on a cool, autumn evening, lost in a simultaneous cluster of thoughts about tomorrow’s meeting, whether or not Mexican food for lunch was a good idea, and then a funny looking chick approaches you. She makes a strange face that consequently grabs your full attention and you notice her eyes fixed directly at your crotch.
Is this woman serious? You both keep walking and once she’s out of your field of vision, you look down and notice your fly’s open. Oops. So, you zip it up. Not difficult to imagine, as I’m sure it has happened to everyone on more than one occasion.
Now let’s look at a different scenario. You get dressed in the morning and make the conscious decision to not zip up your pants. You go through the entire day receiving similar stares and more eyes on your pelvic region than usual. You recognize each and every glance in your direction, you’re very much aware of your unzipped pants, and yet you can’t make the correlation between your wardrobe malfunction and the reactions from those around you.
That’s a little harder to imagine because, quite frankly, it doesn’t seem like a very bright way of thinking. Those that are consumed by insecurity do this everyday. They walk out of their homes every morning, dressed head to toe in self-doubt, and just assume that no one can notice.
Of course, a person immune to insecurity either lives on as a character from a movie, or does not exist at all. No living, breathing human being can simply walk around freely in the real world without their confidence taking a hit or two. That moment of self-doubt is certainly never welcomed; it allows itself in. However, if that notion of personal flaw makes itself a home in your mind and you don’t make any attempt to kick it out, it’s no one’s fault but your own. There are several types of people whose habits blatantly broadcast the dominating presence of their pronounced house guests.
We see it more than we would prefer to. Whether it’s on Twitter or Instagram, we all have that one (or more) friend who posts his exorbitant self-portraits like it’s his job. It’s much more common with the female population. These women want everyone to see their new lip color, their new haircut, their Wednesday smile, their Thursday smile, their Friday pout and that new birthmark that somehow made its way onto their cheek.
There are probably a million reasons as to why women will justify their obsession with themselves, but the only one that holds any significant weight is attention. Insecure women (and men; you guys aren’t an exception) seek attention the way a parasite seeks a host. They need it to survive. It’s almost as if the value of their existence is measured by the amount of likes and comments their photos procure. They’re constantly hungry for reassurance from the public because they don’t know how to be entirely content with themselves.
Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with an occasional personal snapshot here and there. We all have those days where we feel like we look better than we normally do. Sometimes we wake up with an unexpected glow, or the previous night’s gym session reveals itself in the morning. A confidence boost from the occasional photo is fine.
However, once it becomes habitual to the point where your smile or body is familiar to virtually everyone against their will, you’re no longer simply posting a photo of yourself. You’re posting a sign that reads “INSECURE” in large, bold, italicized, underlined and multiple-colored print.
The social media fanatic
With the introduction of social media outlets within the past decade, there has been a declining sense of individual mystery in our generation. Way back when, there was no online portal we could rely on to read our friends’ thoughts. This was a wonderful time when the art of conversation was at its peak. In this day and age, we have the freedom to share our thoughts and opinions to the world without ever having to directly face the individual outcome of this act.
Your insecurities don’t hide behind the screen like you do. When the freedom of speech shifts its power source from your mouth to your fingertips, more will always be said.
Some thoughts become revelations, some become insignificant, and opinions often change quicker than they were originally formulated. By posting and sharing every thought, before it can be rendered or revised, the sole intention hiding behind your actions reveals itself as the need for approval. People desperate for public feedback will always consistently keep their audience updated, in hope of receiving some validation for their opinions.
There is a difference between being a social media enthusiast and a social media fanatic. An enthusiast shares his or her opinion with reason; confidence. The way they were taught to think before they spoke, they think before they type. An enthusiast can have a lot to say and there is certainly nothing wrong with being an opinionated person, especially if it encourages feedback and congenial interaction. But if you’re that fanatic that posts literally everything on your mind, sharing your thoughts without thinking them through, you’re not encouraging feedback—you’re begging for it.
The guy who lost his voice
Silence is a situational feat. The act of not speaking doesn’t necessarily affirm the existence of your insecurity. Abraham Lincoln once said, “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” There is a lot of truth behind this statement. As previously explained, one should always think before they speak (and type.)
However, your self-doubt becomes painfully evident when you become known as the guy who doesn’t speak at all. It’s one thing to be shy, and another to keep to yourself; but if no one has ever heard you voice your opinion, then the only two possible conclusions are that A. you don’t speak the language, or B. you’re too afraid to allow yourself to be heard.
The guy you wish lost his voice
Much like the social media fanatic who posts way too much information, this is the person who talks way too much. Here’s the thing: your own personal opinions will always be golden to you. There is no guarantee that they will hold the same regard to those around you. If someone wants to hear your take on a certain topic, they will ask you. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t speak unless you’re spoken to, but there are social cues you need to learn to pick up on.
For example: if you’re out with a few friends, catching up on your lives and sharing experiences, then you should do just that. Tell your friends about your cousin’s engagement, let them know why you can never eat at a Subway again; tell them the things that are important in your life at the moment. But the key is to speak, stop speaking, and then listen. Conversing is about a group of people exchanging ideas and opinions, not you alone giving a lecture.
If you find yourself babbling about your job, your girlfriend, your car, your girlfriend’s car, your girlfriend’s cat, the commercial about a cat you saw that morning, etc., all without taking a breath to stop and let those around you speak—you’re no longer having a conversation. You’re talking incessantly while your friends are staring at your unzipped fly (metaphorically speaking.) There’s a clear difference between speaking to discuss and speaking just to be heard. Your words sound more like cries for attention when you talk too much.
Mr. Pity Party
This might the one party that no one ever wants to attend. What people tend to forget is that self-loathing is insecurity’s little brother. It attaches itself to doubt and clings to it relentlessly.
You may have heard the saying “tough times don’t last, tough people do.” Those are the people that refuse to wear the stench of uncertainty for longer than they should. Everyone experiences difficulties and no one can say they live a problem-free life. Most of the time, the people aware of your circumstances will be understanding and put up with your ordeal. However, if you continue to wear the negativity everywhere you go, no one will make excuses for you the way you’ve been doing so yourself.
If you don’t believe in yourself, the people around you will have a hard time trying to believe in you. Some will remain to have incredible faith, especially when you’re undergoing those distressing circumstances. But they won’t hold that faith forever; the only person who’s guaranteed to keep that confidence until your last breath is the person carrying that breath: you.
The guy who can’t think for himself
Words are our most powerful tools. Nothing screams insecurity more than someone who understands this concept and steals the thoughts and opinions of others because he’s afraid of his own ideas being rejected.
An example of this would be someone having lunch with her girlfriends and sharing a conversation about a new fashion trend. This girl will overhear her friend’s opinion about it, notice the positive reactions from her friends, and then go on to repeat the same words verbatim to a different group of people. It happens more than you think.
Another example is a guy who calls his friend to get his opinion of practically everything: from whether or not he should wear a tie tonight, where he should take his girlfriend, what he should feed his dog, etc. Everyone has the ability to formulate his or her own opinion. Doubting your own thoughts is doubting what makes you the person you are. Who are you if all of your words were taken from someone else’s mouth?
An insecure person is very easy to spot. There is no in-depth observation required; no squinting, no double-checking. If you are consumed with self-doubt, it will be revealed through your actions. Take care of your insecurities and learn how love yourself above all else. Failure to do so will undoubtedly direct attention your way, and not the kind of attention you intended to attract.
Kathy Polo | Elite.