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.
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?