The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. – Anna Quindlen
I’m thankful that no one is perfect. If everyone was perfect life would be perfectly boring. We all have faults, but I believe that each person is more aware and more focused on their own imperfections than anyone else. That’s why I’ve yet to find anyone without insecurities. You may think you know people who not only seem perfect, but they seem completely secure in themselves and all they do. Don’t believe that for a minute. In fact I believe that the people who are best at covering up their insecurities may be the people with the strongest insecurities. As part of my efforts to seek self-improvement I’ve tried to face my insecurities and deal with them head on. This is not always easy. It is easier to fall back on the normal coping strategies like hiding or ignoring your imperfections rather than working on them; walking away from a situation that makes you feel insecure, seeking approval from others rather than accepting your imperfection or overcoming them; being defensive even when you know the other person is right; joking about it, so they laugh with you not at you; or a tried and true one… focus on the imperfections of others so you can put aside thoughts about yours.
So what am I insecure about? Number one answer – my weight or level of fitness. I enjoy staying fit, but sometimes I slack off, either because other things take priority, or I’m injured, or I’m just not feeling it at the moment. My weight and fitness level yo-yo and so does my insecurity about it. This hasn’t always been a problem for me, I was very thin as a kid and young man. I really didn’t have to think about it very often until my late 30’s. I was in the Marine Corps which kept me fit, and I could eat just about anything I wanted to without worrying about it too much. But those days are long gone. I have to consider my old “normal eating” level to be “excessive eating” and if I miss a few workouts or have an injury my fitness level drops very quickly and the weight starts to climb.
When this first changed I really got out of shape and I gained about 40 pounds in all the wrong places. I joked about it, worked on it in fits and starts, but didn’t really make any major changes until I got divorced. Divorce is horrible, but it is definitely a great catalyst for change. I got in great shape, got remarried, slowly slid back into old habits, and climbed about halfway back toward my peak weight. I didn’t get as bad, mainly because I continued to go to the gym and to run. But I definitely was in a few more “before” pictures during my second marriage that I keep around so I “never go there again”. I met Jenny over three years ago, and I’m not as svelte as I’d like to be, but definitely have not let myself go. We just passed our one year anniversary last month and I’m currently about 15 pounds heavier than when we met, but I’m also training for a marathon! I have no intention of ever adding 15 more pounds, in fact I’m working hard to take the 15 pounds, and maybe a few more off permanently.
I can also be insecure about being a “nice guy”. I rarely yell or get angry and I try to work through conflict quickly and without ruffling too many feathers. There have been times when I have let this go too far, when my avoidance of conflict has cost me. This has been especially true in relationships. You can actually be too nice of a guy. I let things that bothered me go too long, to the point where it was too late to fix them. In the end being a nice guy has paid off in the relationship department, but it took meeting the right woman. But being too “nice” doesn’t only affect relationships, it affects you at work, when dealing with a contractor working on your house, when buying a new car, and when dealing with friends and family. Although I don’t want to become a “horrible guy”, I have worked over the last few years on speaking my mind more directly, standing my ground more firmly, and treating people the way they want to be treated – the same way they treat me (Golden Rule and all). That doesn’t mean I’ve started yelling at people or getting angry to get what I want. After all the Golden Rule goes both ways. But I work to not let being a nice guy be interpreted as being a push over.
I won’t bore you will all my smaller insecurities… oh there are more! I think the point of the post is that you should recognize and face your insecurities. If you can do that your life will be fuller, your relationships stronger, and you’ll feel much better about yourself.