“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.” Psalms 139:14
As I continue with our final discussion on invisible prisons, I want to broach the subject of insecurity. Merriam Webster defines insecurity as not confident; uncertain; deficient in assurance; and beset by fear and anxiety. I would venture to say we all experience some type of insecurity; however, the problem arises when we deal with that insecurity for a prolonged period of time which may cause a significant impact on our lives–“the kind of childhood you had, past traumas, recent experiences of failure or rejection, loneliness, social anxiety, negative beliefs about yourself, perfectionism, or having a critical parent or partner can all contribute to your insecurities.”
After church on Sunday, a couple of friends came over for some “girl time.” We melted the chill of a cool, rainy day with comfort food–a hot bowl of vegetable soup, great conversation, and lots of laughter. Among many of the conversations that were discussed, insecurity was one of them. I posed the question, “What insecurities do you think we (as women) deal with? These ladies quickly embraced the current topic of conversation and offered the following insecurities they believed we experience: hair, weight, skin complexion, body shape, lack of education, lack of material things, and residue from past experiences (i.e., rejection or abandonment felt in childhood or relationships).
For those of you who know me personally, it may come as a surprise that I am very insecure when it comes to public speaking. I am very comfortable working behind the scenes or speaking in small group settings. I am sure that is why I love to write. The thought of speaking to a large group sends my anxiety level souring through the roof. I have traced this insecurity back to my childhood. As a child, I felt like I was always second, not seen or celebrated; therefore, my comfort zone is somewhere in the background. Recently, God has been placing me in situations where I will need to overcome this fear–this insecurity. As a result, I recently applied to join a Toastmasters Club–they are dedicated to helping members help themselves improve their public speaking skills. I am proud of myself for having recognized my insecurity; identifying the root, and finding a solution to overcome it.
In an article titled, “How to Deal with Insecurity and Overcome Its Effects,” Jack Nollan offers the following methods of improving self-perception and tempering insecurity:
- Affirmations – Write yourself a short pep talk, memorize it, and repeat it to yourself regularly, especially when you’re feeling low or unsure of yourself. (i.e., As Aibileen would say to Mae Mobley in the movie, “The Help,” You is Kind; You is smart; You is important.)
- Forgiveness – You’re human–you are going to make bad decisions, mistakes, and sometimes do stupid things. Forgive yourself and do better the next go around. After you make the decision to forgive yourself, let it go and move on.
- Mindfulness – Be awake and aware in the moment–not what transpired yesterday nor what you think is coming tomorrow.
- Celebrate Accomplishments – It’s acceptable to have some regrets or experience some pain for past mistakes or missteps, but we also need to acknowledge the positive things that are in our lives.
- Fail more – Failure is not a negative–it is simply a part of overall success. The people that succeed are the people that continuously try things. The more things you try, the more you experience failure–it’s just another part of the overall journey.
In 2014, Mexican and Kenyan actress, Lupita Nyong’o, was honored with the “Best Breakthrough Performance Award” at the 7th Annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon for her role as Patsey in the “critically acclaimed” film, “12 Years a Slave.” In her acceptance speech, Lupita shared with the audience of celebrity women her insecurities and negative self-image of having a darker skin color. The following is an excerpt from her speech:
“I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin. I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin. Any my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned. The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of a mirror because I wanted to see my fair face first. And every day, I experienced the same disappointment of being just as dark as I had been the day before. I tried to negotiate with God; I told him I would stop stealing sugar cubes at night if he gave me what I wanted; I would listed to my mother’s every word and never lose my school sweater again if he just made me a little lighter. But I guess God was unimpressed with my bargaining chips because He never listened.” (I have attached the YouTube video of Lupita’s speech below.)
As a society, we place an enormous amount of emphasis and finances on our outer beauty (hair, mani-pedi’s, eyelashes, designer clothing and accessories, etc). Do not misunderstand–I believe we should be concerned with our outer appearance; however, I believe we should place the same amount of time and efforts on our inner healing. Lupita said it best in her closing remarks of her speech at the luncheon, “And so I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside. There is no shade in that beauty.”
As Lupita came to terms with her beautiful, dark complexion, may we all come to terms with our own individual insecurities. As always, I would love to hear your comments and please share with a friend.
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