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This was my first draft reflecting on my own insecurity . . .and then transforms into another understanding.
I think I must be one of the most insecure people on the planet. On Ricochet, we have so many articulate, confident, knowledgeable, and intelligent members that I am frequently in awe of them. Seriously. And I wonder how I can measure up to their thoughtful sharing of their ideas when it’s my turn.
You would think that after all my postings on Ricochet, I would figure out that at least some people respect me, even if they don’t like me. But old habits (or self-images) are hard to change. Lately, I’ve become keenly aware that the more positive feedback I receive, the more insecure I seem to feel. What the heck is that about?
I write this not as a self-effacement post. I’m not looking for people to praise me or my writing. It seems like I suffer more from positive feedback than I do from criticism! But here is what I’d like to learn from all of you:
Is insecurity a way to avoid working with the fact that we are all imperfect? In other words, if I’m hard on myself, am I putting my energy into a counterproductive mindset? Or should it drive me to be my best self?
I have spent years trying to accept that I will never be perfect. I learned a long time ago that perfectionism is a curse; a perfectionist demands far too much of herself and of others, and everyone ends up being miserable. Excellence is a much more practical and productive aim, and I thought I had accepted that as my goal. But now I am wondering if I’ve been fooling myself.
Ultimately, I want to be “normal,” whatever that means. I want to have a pretty clear and accurate understanding of who I am and ways that I may grow and learn. I want to accept the positive feedback I receive, and learn from the criticisms, too. And I am determined to find a way to be relatively at peace with myself. Yes, it’s about time, at the age of 73, to find that path.
So, are you willing to admit that you are insecure, at least at times and in certain areas? Have you found a way to overcome that limitation? How did you do it?
* * * *
Okay, I’ve had a while to settle down a bit, and I have quite a bit more clarity on my diatribe on insecurity, and what it might really be about.
I think that Hank Racette’s kind remarks toward me and my writing in his most recent post pushed me over the edge. So it’s all your fault, Hank.
But seriously, I think that insecurity is not what limits me; it’s my reluctance to accept my imperfect self, with all its blessings and limitations.
For example, I know I’m a decent writer, and I’m pretty well-organized. I’ve been told that I demonstrate wisdom, an assessment that I deeply treasure. I have shown patience in my comments (mostly) and curiosity, because I love to learn. I’m a fairly moral person, even if some people think I’ve been born into sin (kidding). I demonstrate a modest sense of humor, and love when people tolerate it.
On the downside, I am not always patient with myself. I’m intolerant of my aging body and the limitations of medicine to help me. I tend to make excuses and spend far too much time focusing on my maladies. And if you give me enough time, I could probably list far more self-criticisms than positive attributes. But I think I have learned an important lesson from this exercise.
I have to embrace my imperfect self—including my insecurities.
That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t keep working on correcting my faults. But at the same time, I should try to expand on my attributes. When I’m hard on myself, I can take a few moments to reflect on those assessments, but not let myself be buried in them. I can celebrate the small differences and improvements I bring to the world, and remain open to doing even more.
* * * *
In troubled times, when there are people who will denigrate, attack, and discount us and our ideas, it can be a challenge to maintain a balanced perspective, especially if we tend to demand a great deal from ourselves. All the more reason to step back, take a deep breath and reflect on the fact that ultimately, we are created in the image of G-d.
And it is enough to do the best we can, as flawed and limited as our actions may be.Published in