Newsflash: I have insecurities. Don’t we all. Starting this website was not just a way to share my thoughts and things that have helped me through life, but also things that have helped my insecurities.
When I was a teenager, I had horrific acne. A lot of us did. What I didn’t expect, was getting that same chronic acne as an adult, and once I got rid of it, I didn’t expect to have such obvious scarring to involuntarily shout to the world that I was an acne sufferer. My cheeks were so pitted, that wearing a non-matte foundation reflected the dips in my skin and made it look worse (or more obvious.)
Writing about it is one thing. Sharing it is another. I write about a lot of stuff. Do I share it with the world? Not always. Sometimes it’s just for me. I write opinion pieces that are too aggressive, I write poems that are too earnest, I write articles with facts that are just plain wrong. I write political pieces that I’m too nervous to post – not because I’m ashamed of my opinion, but because I’m afraid of cancel culture. Being a writer is partly overcoming the fear that at one point or another, we’re going to say the wrong thing. When you stick your neck out, don’t be surprised when someone lets go of the rope to the guillotine. Point is, there’s a lot of content out there that shouldn’t have been shared, and sometimes content that should be out there – isn’t.
But. Back to my skin. I posted about it on my Instagram stories, and added a poll for those who have suffered with skin issues. There was a lucky few that clicked the “Never had any” button – but boy was I surprised at the amount of people who clicked “Yes, that’s me!” An overwhelming amount. People who I have known and circulated around for my whole life, going through the same struggles as me, without having ever spoken about it.
Is it bad that I feel validated by other people having similar insecurities as mine? Yes, I was the one who posted a close-up of my pitted skin to Instagram, but what I got in return was nothing but affirmation. I posted that photo to my work colleagues, my childhood crushes, some people I idolize – and I wasn’t ashamed of it.
I have woken up in the middle of the night to take down a post I thought that people would think badly of me for. Whether it was me in the club, being trigger-happy with my Insta stories, or me poking fun at an anti-vaxxer (not ideal) – it always filled me with a sense of dread (which in my opinion probably worked hand in hand with my hangover anxiety – but more on that later). For some reason, instead of me sharing my opinions, showing my true self, my true face, and my true insecurities left me feeling lighter. Instead of feeling worried, mentally tethered to my phone, stuck in a technological societal Orwellian 1984, I felt free.
I remember when Pamela Anderson left Instagram, and the message she left us with is this:
“I’ve never been interested in social media
Now that I’m settled into the life I’m genuinely inspired by
Reading and being in nature
I am free”
I remember reading this and feeling so struck by “I am free.” I have never felt constrained or judged by Instagram. What I have felt is constrained and judged by my own insecurities. I don’t compare myself to other’s curated lives on Instagram. What I do instead, is fabricate harsh critiques of myself based on what I think others think of me. Which, probably for the most part, is wildly untrue.
How am I to know what someone else thinks when I post a picture to Instagram? Maybe they’re looking at my cellulite thinking I’m unattractive, maybe they’re reading my caption thinking I’m lame as hell – but how am I to know what they’re thinking unless they tell me specifically so? Anything else I come up with is just that – something that I’ve come up with, based on my perceptions of the world, and definitely my own insecurities.
When I posted that photo of my pitted skin, I was showcasing (in my opinion) one of my worst physical facets – or one that has caused me the most unhappiness. Which is against the grain! In the social sphere, the norm is to post the very best of yourself, and the very best of your life! But by posting my insecurity, I showed my insecurity to all the people I crave validation from. All the people I want to look attractive to. And instead of filling me with dread, it set me free.
In the end, I did find validation. Not from people saying, “Claudia, your skin isn’t as bad as you think,” but from people saying, “Yes, I’ve got my own insecurities too, and I’m not afraid to tell you that!”
A lot of us think that everyone else has it better than we do. That the skinny girl would never worry about her weight; that the girl with great taste in clothes would never worry about what to wear; that the girl with perfect skin would never worry about her stretch marks. It’s not true. The only people “without” insecurities are the ones that accept that they have insecurities and love themselves anyway. I have a family member with an ostomy, and she struggled with her self-esteem for a long time because her body didn’t look “normal”. Now, she talks about her ostomy all the time, wears a bikini because she can, loves her body because of what she can do with it (she can deadlift over 112 kilos!), and has built confidence around something that once caused her a lot of emotional (and physical) strife. She’s one of the hottest, and coolest people I know – and the best part is, she thinks that about herself too. I wish for us all to think we’re cool and hot and smart and funny and interesting and courageous and brave – because we probably are.
Owning our insecurities just might be the very best thing for us – not because it tells us our insecurities aren’t valid, but because it reminds us that everyone is struggling with their own self-worth in one way or another. Perhaps that puts us on an equal field and reminds us that under everything, we’re just human beings on a planet trying to make sense of our lives and love something. Whether that be our jobs, our family, our partner, or ourselves. Hopefully all of the above.