Every once in a while, I like to start this by saying that I have nothing to say. My mind is blank. Words are hard. Who will read this? Well, you are, and I’m grateful. No, seriously, I am immensely grateful despite the sentence I’m about to write. The next sentence would seemingly contradict the sentiment, but I assure you, it’s nothing more than a moment of insecurity.
Somedays, when I write, I feel like I’m trying to have a conversation with my shadow and that damn thing is not the best conversationalist. It doesn’t respond. It doesn’t give any indication that it’s listening. It’s there in spirit, but it’s not really present in any meaningful way.
This is all metaphorical, of course. If my shadow started to offer me advice, I would scream, throw something, and run away. Can you run away from your shadow? Can you imagine trying?
Yes, I can. I have a very active imagination. My shadow has some serious parkour skills. Me? Not at all, but look at my shadow run up the side of that building. I’ll never be that flexible. Jealous much? Sigh.
If you were a mental health professional, you might point out that I’m employing classic avoidance techniques. Are these emotions I’m experiencing triggering a fight or fantasy response? Yeah, talking about my insecurities is making me feel, well, insecure.
Or, I’m indulging in a pitiful and pathetic case of lamentation because I can’t get any traction. My life is one giant slip ‘n slide, and someone doused it in petroleum jelly. Woe is me! No, I’m being silly and broody. I should just snap out of it and move on.
Wait, hold up, I’ve gotta cut myself some slack. I’m allowed a moment of doubt, frustration, and faltering faith. These moments of insecurity happen to everyone. I have no evidence, and I might be talking out of my anus, but it seems to happen a lot more to those of us pursuing creative endeavours.
Am I wrong? Almost certainly.
Okay, how about this? It happens to those of us who put our hearts, souls, and every drop of passion into the things we create. It’s a part of us. It’s a physical manifestation of something ethereal. Putting that out into the world, and then it’s rejected or ignored? Even if there’s a chance that can happen?
We give it everything we have, we work hard, but the lack of momentum is… frustrating. Is that the word? Discouraging. Disheartening. What am I doing wrong? Why can’t I can’t I get this right? Why would anyone care about the words I write?
Insecurities become amplified as doubt creeps in. I feel like I should be doing more, but here I am, sitting on this sofa, fighting the urge to give up, throw my computer in a trash compactor, and never write another word. In this moment of self-pity, I can’t help but wonder if there’s any point in carrying on with this. Whatever this is?
I’m not saying this because I want some reassurance, or I’m angling for a compliment. Those things are lovely, I won’t poo-poo the idea, but it’s not why I’m opening up about this particular mood. It’s a mood that will pass, but it’s occupying too much of my headspace.
Living up there rent-free, are we? Nope, it’s time to get out and be gone. The best way to get rid of unwanted thoughts and emotions is to say them out loud. Put them on notice that they can’t live in there anymore. Crack a window, open the door, and let some air in because positives push away negatives.
I’m hoping they do because I could really use some positive reinforcement right now.
That’s what I’m doing. I’m taking these woeful, pity party thoughts and writing them down on this page. I’m shining a somewhat bright light on my doubts, frustrations, and insecurities. If I do, they’ll lose power, and I can get back to doing something that will give me genuine pleasure.
Writing has always been my escape and the tool in my shed that shovels out life’s manure. Whether it’s uncomfortable emotions like I’m experiencing right now, complex decisions, or heartbreaks; putting words on a page helps me make sense of what I’m going through. It helps me process, cleanse, and detox things that are just too heavy.
It’s also my main source of communication.
I’ve never been verbally articulate or verbose. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been painfully shy and quiet. People, especially in large groups, trigger my insecurities. It silences my voice and stops my mind from processing thought. I shrink back into a corner and watch the show because that’s where I’m comfortable. When I am approached, I’m awkward, and people usually give me strange looks before finding an excuse to leave.
I don’t blame them! They tried, but I don’t have the voice for real-world conversations. Unless I know you extremely well, and you’ve earned my deepest love and trust. The number of people who’ve done that are few. The number of people who’ve tried are many. I often wish I was more open and trusting, but my heart has been hurt too often.
It’s very protective of me, and that’s a problem. I’ve been told that it’s a sign of complex post-traumatic stress (CPTSD). When someone experiences repeated trauma, they can lose the ability to trust people and let them in. Especially when the trauma happens at a young age and, I was three years old when the first figurative, hit came.
I’ve talked about it a lot over the last year. If you’re curious, feel free to check out anything else I’ve written. The juicy details are there for your perusing so, I’ll just leave it at that for now.
The validation is nice. It’s good to hear that what I’m feeling and experiencing is a normal part of trauma recovery. I won’t discount the power of knowledge, but it’s not very comforting at the moment because I need connection. I need to widen my circle and let more people in. I crave that level of community.
But I lose my voice when I try to connect, and I shrink away.
That changes when I sit down in front of a computer or a pen and piece of paper. This is my moment to speak and, hopefully, be heard. I’ve locked the words inside for too long so, they come out in a rush. I have so much to say and so many thoughts to share. Writing them down? It’s the only voice I’m comfortable using.
Except, right now, the very thing that gives me comfort is giving me a big case of the insecurities.
When I was a kid, I had a horrible time learning how to read and write. Written words didn’t make sense to me, and all of the letters looked the same. They were squiggly lines with loops and lumps. I couldn’t believe that they meant something and so many people just accepted that fact. What did they see that I couldn’t?
Most of my teachers got frustrated with me, but a few of them worked really hard to help me put the pieces together. They sat with me, patiently going over the loops and lumps until the letters. It was tedious and painful.
Every evening, my parents and I would go through a stack of flashcards. I hated those damn cards, and whenever they came out, I wanted to cry or run away. My favourite learning tool was story time with my mom. Whenever we got some quiet time, we’d curl up together and read a book. Her finger would slowly trace each word as she read them out loud, and I’d try to follow along. Eventually, the words started to make sense, and the letters took shape.
If you’d told me then how much I’d come to value, cherish, these loops and lumps? There’s no way I would’ve believed you. I hated reading! I loved stories, and listening to my mom was one of my favourite things. But read those stories myself? It seemed like a magic spell being cast by a powerful magician, and I wasn’t magical.
Words are magical in the right hands. They can set a person free from the tricks their mind plays. They can turn strangers, living thousands of miles apart, into friends. Written words can become the voice for someone like me, who struggles to use their voice.
But sometimes, like now, they cause emotional turmoil. Today, I feel the same way I did when those flashcards came out. Frustrated. Afraid. Stupid because I can’t do something so simple. And, yes, insecure because I feel like, no matter how hard I try, I’ll keep falling behind.
By what measurement? What am I using to calculate my successes and failures? How do I know how far I should be and how far behind I am? Why do I think I’ll never hit the mark?
Questions. So many questions. Why are there always so many questions? And that’s another one. Damn it.
I could recite the pithy advice I saw online. You’ve probably seen it. The meme that’s been reposted a thousand times. Short and sweet messages that are, “Just so true.” Bite-sized advice that doesn’t require a lot of thinking.
This one’s popular and fitting: Comparison is the thief of joy.
So true, right. Sarcasm aside, I’m comparing myself to others who’ve written their way to successful careers. Is it stealing my joy? It’s taking the fun out of something that does, on most days, bring me an immense amount of happiness. It’s triggering a moment of insecurity, and there’s not a lot of joy in that.
Okay, fine, it’s stealing my joy, and I shouldn’t have mocked those memes.
I’m comparing myself to people who’ve worked hard over many years to get where they are. The overnight success thing is rare, and most people struggled just like I’m doing right now. And you! You’re struggling too, in whatever you’re trying to accomplish, but very few people will see that. We don’t see the struggles, but we still compare the successes.
One didn’t happen without the other; neither one can exist without the other. Comparing their success to my failures? Is it any wonder I feel so insecure right now?
Everyone has days like this where they question their abilities, doubt their future, and consider throwing it all in. It doesn’t matter how successful they are! They feel it too. Knowing that you have these moments of insecurity is comfort, and reassuring.
I don’t want you to feel this way! But if you are? Then I’m not the only one.
Just like I wasn’t the only kid who struggled to learn how to read and write. I’m not the only one to face traumatic situations at a young age. I’m not the only one who has to deal with emotional baggage. There’s a strength in knowing that, no matter what we’re going through, we’re never really alone.
I’m having a moment of insecurity — it happens — but I’m sharing it with you so that, if you’re feeling it too, you know that we’re going through it together. It will pass. We will find our feet. We will keep trying because there’s happiness and fulfillment in each struggling step forward.
Not that you need my permission, but it’s also okay to feel the insecurity. It isn’t a sign a weakness. It’s just a part of being human.