Welcome To The Insecure Zone

I read a beautiful blog post today by my friend Jessica Love, who–by the way–has A BIG FAT BOOK DEAL and is awesome and if you don’t know her, you are MISSING OUT.

Hi, Jessica. Hi, Jessica's Awesome Book.

Hi, Jessica. Hi, Jessica’s Awesome Book.

Anyway, Jessica’s post was about this residency for her MFA in Ireland, and how she didn’t know anyone else in the group and had trouble finding her “niche” people. She describes that crippling feeling that no one likes me, I don’t fit in, I don’t belong here. That feeling of wanting to hide in your room so you won’t be rejected. That desperation for someone, anyone, to sit at your table during dinner.

I know that feeling, but I don’t struggle with it when I’m surrounded by strangers. I struggle with it when I’m surrounded by friends.

And I am telling you, it’s the most bizarre thing you’ve ever seen.

Right after my junior year of high school, I went on this humanitarian trip to the island of Trinidad. We had to spend a few days in Dallas beforehand, preparing our material (we did drama skits and crafts with kids). I didn’t know anyone. Never seen any of these people before in my life. And you know what?

I was social. I was funny. I was the life of the party. All the funny parts of the skits went to me. When my luggage got lost, every girl in the group let me borrow stuff.

But when I got home, and I found myself back in my regular routine with my regular people, something happened.

I shut down. Completely.

I didn’t want to talk about Trinidad. I didn’t want to talk about my new friends or the songs we sang or the skits we performed. I felt silly, like an outsider. No one understood my experience–or so I felt.

The same thing happened when I moved to Spain for a semester in college. I literally knew no one. And while things were slightly complicated by the fact that I was homesick (for, um, London? Because of a boy? But that is a whole other story I’ll probably never write), I still thrived in my “unknown” status. I made Spanish friends and American friends and even one Polish friend. I was confident and strong.

Then I got home, and things got weird again. I knew everyone, and it made me uncomfortable. It was like they knew me too well. 

So all this is to say that, one way or another, we all have our Insecure Zone. Sometimes we’re insecure with strangers; sometimes we’re insecure with those who know us best. But wherever our insecurities lie, it’s always important–vital, really–to be kind and welcoming to everyone around us.

How does that saying go? “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting an impossible battle.”

How true, right? And sometimes, the battle is simply against ourselves. Our insecurities.

Let’s remember that no one around us is ever completely comfortable in their own skin, and that no matter how confident or beautiful a person is, they’re probably terrified to walk into that crowded restaurant alone. They’re probably terrified to go to that party, even though they’re going with a friend. Or maybe they’re terrified to go to school, where they know everyone, because everyone isn’t always kind.

What about you? Where’s your Insecure Zone?

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8 thoughts on “Welcome To The Insecure Zone

  1. Jessica Love says:

    You really hit the whole point of this – that kindness to everyone, friends and strangers, is SO important. We ALL struggle, so why not help each other out as much as possible? (Easier said than done, I know, but it’s such a good thing to be mindful of.)

    Thanks for the love today! xoxo

  2. Zanne says:

    I really enjoyed this post. I read Jessica’s post earlier today and I couldn’t believe how similar I have felt. I found that as I read your post, I could relate as well. Sometimes when I’m in a new situation with people I don’t know, I can come out of my shell. I’m willing to try new things. But then the second someone says something like, “You’re quiet” it just ruins everything. One time I was hanging out with a big group of people the night before a wedding. We had split into smaller groups and I was talking to a few people, having a good time. I stopped talking for a few minutes and a friend from another group noticed and yelled over to our group, “Suzanne! Why aren’t you talking?! You never talk!” Nevermind that I HAD been talking.

    I like reading posts like this because it reminds me that I’m not the only person going through stuff like this, and it is okay!

    • Anne Riley says:

      It’s totally okay! Everyone struggles in some way or another, and the sooner we all know the truth of that, the sooner we can all relax.

  3. Anna says:

    I’m right there with you, Anne. On a daily basis at work I meet a lot of strangers and interact with almost-strangers that I sort of “know” in passing, and I wish I could be *that* person all the time. In my friendships and my relationships with family, I’m so insecure and stuck in that “nobody understands me” headspace that I’ve been in since I was 12-13. Everything else is different, but in my head I’m still glasses and braces and knees and elbows.

    • Anne Riley says:

      YES. You just don’t believe that people who KNOW you could also LIKE you. Right there with ya, girl.

  4. Jamey Stegmaier says:

    I really like this post, Anne. Thanks for sharing that vulnerable side that we can all relate to in some way. And I really like this: “But wherever our insecurities lie, it’s always important–vital, really–to be kind and welcoming to everyone around us.” It’s a great reminder that we shouldn’t use our weaknesses as an excuse to be less loving people–rather, they can be reminders to treat other people better.

    I share your experience of going abroad and feeling–in a way–more alive than with established friends here in the US. However, I’ve also had one experience abroad while traveling alone that reminded me that my top Insecure Zone is when I’m alone with people I don’t know. Whether it was on that Ireland trip or at a happy hour in St. Louis, there always comes a moment when I look around the room, see everyone else clustered in groups, and feel completely at a loss. This happened the other day when I was speaking on a panel about Kickstarter–despite being in a position of authority at the event, I still felt that insecurity.

  5. Jessica N says:

    Love this one. Sometimes I feel insecure ALL the time but mostly it’s with people I don’t know well. Thanks for being a good friend and reminding us that it’s okay.

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