Tuesday, November 4, 2014

(IN)security Breach


The fear of imperfection.  
The fear of never being good enough.
Have you ever felt that way? 

I know I sure have.
I used to be the QUEEN of insecurity.
It began at a very early age, and stuck with me until not so very long ago.
I certainly had those who helped me along in my insecurities.
I don't think there is ever a shortage of those people in our lives.
You know, the ones who really seem to enjoy playing off of our insecurities, and making us even more miserable than we already make ourselves!

Of course, I had no idea that the people who were playing on my insecurities were actually horribly insecure themselves.
To me, they seemed like they had everything going for them.  So, when they would point out my flaws, and announce them for all the world to hear, it just added to their "power."
When I was younger, and I would try to "put myself out there" a little bit, be it through some sort of musical performance, or by participating in class, or whatever, the "bullies" would make fun of me.  (I should mention that the bullies were all girls.  I never had any problems with boys being mean.  I think girls and women are the ones who have the hardest time dealing with their insecurities.  I am sure men feel insecure as well, but don't attack each other the way women do.)
Whenever I would be teased or made fun of, it would deflate my spirit a little bit more. 

Luckily, this didn't go on forever.  The "ring leader" finally moved away, and her group just sort of dissipated.  Now that I look back on those years, I can absolutely see why she acted the way she did.  We were in 6th and 7th grade, which is tough enough as it is.  She was overweight and awkward. I am pretty sure her dad was no longer in the picture, and her mom didn't seem to have much control over her and her brother.  I am sure that being mean and loud was her way of getting attention.  This was how she "made friends."  She intimidated them.  It's actually really sad.  However, back then when she was using me as her bait...I didn't feel sorry for her at all.  She was just plain mean.
It's interesting how certain insecurities stick with you through your life.
If only we were born with the tools we need to understand that a lot of the crap people throw at us have nothing to do with us.  It is just their insecurities at work, and they are projecting them onto us.

In my adult life, I think my insecurities actually grew, rather than diminished.
Initially, I was secure.  In college, and right after, I was pretty darn sure of myself, and confident in everything I did.
However, life began to beat me down.
My first job involved working for a principal who was NOT a very nice guy.  He loved to call me in his office, pull his glasses down to the tip of his nose, lean forward on his desk toward me (though he would NEVER make any eye contact.....and he weighed probably 400 lbs.) and do whatever he could to intimidate me.  Luckily, I was still pretty confident, but I had just lost my dad at this point, and was emotionally fragile, so these meetings were not something I ever looked forward to.
I think my insecurities really kicked in when we moved back to the La Crosse area from the cities.
I had taken a "teaching" job that was doomed to fail.  It was one of those situations where whoever came into the position was going to be handed a nightmare on a plate.
It was so stressful, and honestly, quite humiliating.  I had to take any pride I had, put it on a platter, and annihilate it with a meat tenderizer.  It was hellish.
It also involved dealing with a lot of parents.  So, I had students who hated me, because, get this, I didn't "yell and scream enough."  I had parents who hated me because..who knows why.  It was awful.
My insecurities soared.

I only stayed there a year, but the next two years at my next job weren't a ton better.  It seemed as though no matter what I was doing, there was always someone there to criticize, or point out what they considered my flaws.

You would think that a church would be the last place your insecurities would come to a head, but, alas, they did.
I worked in my church for six years or so before taking a 2 year hiatus to another parish.
After hearing that my previous position was open again, I applied.
I have to say, it was the most uncomfortable interview ever.
I was surrounded by my former choir members, and some parishioners, (all who knew me) and the new priest (who did not.)
The worst part is that I was aware of three people on the interview committee who did not want me back.  The reason?  Let's just say it had nothing to do with my job performance.  If only I had written this post earlier. ;)

It all worked out just fine, but it literally took about 6 months for some choir members to get "readjusted" to having me back.  (Seriously? I had been there for SIX years!)
Once again, my insecurities flared up.

I believe the true collapse of my insecurities occurred during the big 
blow up of 2013.  Aka: The Icks
Have you ever known someone who has the ability to use their words to create a larger than life persona for themselves?  Someone who can twist any situation to suit their needs, completely turn everything around, and almost make you believe it in a matter of seconds?  It is quite a talent.  It is also quite a weapon when it comes to hurting people who are insecure.
I let this happen to me for such a long time.  Even though I knew exactly what was happening, I would get so emotionally wrapped up in the situation, that I would be too upset to form a cohesive sentence, much less stick up for myself.
I think the biggest issue was I didn't believe in myself....therefore I started to believe the things that were being said about me.

But then something happened.
An exchange in which I, for the first time ever with this person, stood up for myself.  Of course, the response back was very dramatic, blown out of proportion, and self serving.  As I read it over and over again, I realized that none of this was about me.  It was about this person's need to build themselves up.  To feel important.  To be the center of attention.  To, as always, make sure the entire collaboration would revolve around them.
Suddenly....my insecurities started to wash away.

I didn't CARE about this person's opinion of me anymore.
Quite frankly, I didn't care about anyone's opinion of me!
I knew I was doing my job well, and had all my bases covered, so there was NOTHING anyone could complain about.
It felt so GOOD!  I felt so FREE!

I had no idea that self confidence would be so upsetting to those who enjoyed "pushing my buttons" though.  Apparently, our relationship wasn't working when things were 50/50.  Interesting.
In fact....it was soon evident that there was no relationship left at all.
Even though it hurt to be pushed out of someone's life, it was also an eye opener.  For a brief time, I allowed myself to believe that I had done something wrong.  Then I began to think clearly, and knew that I had only done what any self-respecting person would do.  I simply stood up for myself, and did not allow anyone to tell me how to feel or how to act.

I was done feeling small.  I was done being bullied.  I was done feeding someone else's ego, and allowing them to build themselves up by tearing me down.  I. WAS. DONE.
And then something amazing happened.
That constant worry that lived in the pit of my stomach began to dissolve.  That little voice in my head that was always so concerned about what other people were saying about me finally shut up.
I just didn't care anymore.

Who did I need to win over?  Who did I need to prove myself to?
If I was authentic, kind and compassionate, and treated others with respect, why did I need to constantly worry about other people's opinions of me?
I actually find it ironic that the apparent reason my friend "broke up" our relationship is because of my "negative energy."
In reality, I think the only negative energy came from whatever time and energy had been spent brooding over this whole situation.  
I extended an olive branch.  It was not accepted.
End of story.
My conscious is clear, and I harbor no ill feelings.  In fact, I actually feel gratitude toward this person, because this whole ordeal has brought me to this place of peace, contentedness, security, and happiness.

It's sad that it took me this long to figure it all out....but I'm so glad I finally did. 
I hope I can help others in their journey to find that confidence much more quickly than I did.
Do I still have insecurities?  Of course.
I struggle with them everyday....especially body issues.
I doubt those insecurities will ever go away.  However, I think I can live with that.  They are much lower on the "how much do I really care" list than they used to be.  At this point in life, my happiness on the inside is more important than my happiness about the outside. :)

We all have wonderful gifts to put out into the world.  Don't let the words of others extinguish your fire.  Keep an extra set of matches with you wherever you go.  If someone tries to smother your fire, light another match, and make it burn twice as bright.

There is only one you.  Why not live your life in love with that one you?  You are going to spend more time with yourself than with any other person on the planet.....and there is no getting away from yourself!  If there are things you don't like, change them.  We are all a work in progress.  How sad would it be going through an entire life, never loving who you are?
It is time to take all that negative crap, and dump it.  It serves no one.
You can be ANYTHING you want to be.  
You have the ability to mold yourself into the person you have always wished you were.
Will it take work.  Yep.
Will it be worth it?
Hell yes!
The only thing holding you back is the person you see in the mirror.
Change your relationship with that person, and amazing things will start to happen. ;)

Be grateful for YOU!

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