A while back, I bought a book/journal from Barnes and Nobles. It was entitled “My Top Ten”. Inside it is a series of lists that you can fill out. These kind of random things help keep my mind occupied when I otherwise would be anxious, and have become little pleasures of mine. After filling out a few of them, I tucked them away in my nightstand with the intent of coming back and working more on them. That was several months ago.
Last week, I was cleaning the house in an attempt to purge. While cleaning the drawer of my nightstand I found this book again. I thought it would be neat to use it as conversation starters with my husband. I start by reading him the topic, and then we both write down our top ten. We then try to figure out how the other person would answer. Sometimes, it takes us a while to come up with our list.
Two nights ago, the topic was “My Insecurities”. For the first time, I didn’t have to think about what my list would be. I rattled off ten things in lightning speed, and for a second I was proud of myself for finishing my list so quickly. Nathan was still writing his, so I re-read my list. The more I read it, the sadder I became. How was it so easy for me to write ten things I am insecure about, but so hard for me to make a list of my ten favorite foods?
We live in a very comparative world. I know my insecurities so well, because I am always comparing myself to others. When I look in the mirror, or at pictures of myself, I scrutinize everything. Even though Nathan had a harder time writing his list, the things that he wrote amazed me. I would have never dreamed that he would be insecure about any of those things, and yet, there they were written down. Some of the very things that I love about him was on his list.
As we discussed our lists I kept picturing some of the most “put together” people I know, and I wondered what would their list would contain. I then rethought my list and I realized that most of the things that I had on my list were things that people had commented on in the past. I have been judged on them, and now they are an insecurity of mine.
For example, one of my insecurities is being adequate as a parent. It used to be that if people didn’t like your style of parenting, they kept it to themselves. Today, if I post something on social media, then everyone sees it as a right to chime in their opinions. If I talk about my kid getting their shots and being brave, I get messages about how I should not vaccinate my kids because of the harmful side effects. If I post a picture of our Christmas tree, then I get posts from people saying how materialistic we are and that they only do three gifts for their kids. This is despite the fact that most of the gifts do not even stay in this is house since we do Christmas with every person in our immediate family. However, these people don’t stop to ask. They assume, and they judge vocally.
Another example is that of my anxiety. For years, I didn’t talk about it, which created more anxiety. When I did start speaking about it, I was met with criticism. I have been told that “I needed to get over it”. I have been called weak. If it were from people I barely knew, I don’t think it would have bothered me quite as much. However, when people I considered my tribe said it, then it must be real. I have become insecure about my anxiety.
Every choice I make is scrutinized. So, how do I respond? I lay in bed at night always feeling as if I should do more or that I am doing something wrong. I withdraw from people. I crack jokes before others can. Through all of this, I become secure of my insecurities. They are no longer thoughts, they are truths, and I fixate on them.