It was Tina Fey who said “Confidence is 10% hard work and 90% delusion.” And boy have I been delusional. Which is, ironically, a lot of hard work. Being in complete and utter denial about things has left me bloody exhausted.
I’m a confident person. But it took me sobbing my heart out in a fast food joint (long story) to realise that actually, I wasn’t quite as confident as I’d thought. Sure, the fast food bit wasn’t a regular habit, but the impromptu crying in public bit… Yeah, that was definitely new.
“You can’t be in control all of the time,” a friend later remarked. God, that was it. I’ve always been so adamantly in control of everything. Of my emotions, of my career, of how I project myself to the world. I always have my game face on. I’ve had an image to uphold and will shut out anything that doesn’t fit in with it. It’s an image I kept up out of fear.
That’s a horrifying realisation, to think that all this while I’ve actually been living in fear. It’s completely the opposite of how I thought I lived my life. But let me tell you something about fear: nobody is exempt. We all have our monsters threatening to jump out at us and keeping us awake at night. Few of us, however, like to admit it. Even to ourselves.
Fear is what drives our insecurities, and I’ve always considered being insecure a weakness. To be afraid of failure, to feel uncomfortable with yourself, to lie awake worrying that any day now someone will tap you on the shoulder and tell you you’re not supposed to be here, that you’re not good enough to be doing what you’re doing…
These insecurities just seem so unreasonable, and in my head, I am a very pragmatic and reasonable person. It’s taken me until now to understand that what I think and what I feel are allowed to be completely at odds. For instance, I’m a confident person, but I don’t always feel confident. I’m independent and love being single, but there are times I feel gut-wrenchingly lonely. I know I’m good at what I do, but live in fear of screwing up.
When I confessed all of this to a friend, she was genuinely surprised. She admitted that she’d pegged me as such a happy, confident and successful person who just didn’t get fazed by problems. In a way, how nice to know that I’d successfully projected that image of myself. But letting my friends think that about me meant they never realised I was, at times, wracked with loneliness, anxiety and a whole palette of insecurity.
And the worst thing about that is by hiding my insecurities I had closed myself off to relating to what other people were going through. And as it turns out, my friends all suffer similar qualms in their own lives. Yet there we are, all walking about with our game faces on. Friends, the jig is up! We’re all in this together!
The thing to remember is that we are not defined by our insecurities – we are merely challenged by them. So let’s all face our fears and be more open about it, because I’m sure I’m not the first, nor the last person, to find themselves bawling into a burger in public.
And I shan’t be afraid to admit I did that.
“We are all full of weakness and errors; let us mutually pardon each other our follies – it is the first law of nature.” – Voltaire