Insecure (n) : Not feeling at all confident about yourself, your abilities, or your relationships with people.
This ‘condition’ of insecurity is something I’ve suffered from for a big part of my life. It’s crazy the things we allow people to say to us and worse still the negative comments we make to ourselves in addition to that.
‘Would you be friends with people who spoke to you the way you spoke to yourself?’ (Found this on Twitter @jyoungwhite)
I’m going to tell a story about what I have personally allowed myself to go through. Before I begin, I must warn you that this is a very personal post and it may be quite lengthy.
Younger me was very well fed and I say that without exaggeration. I was round but my parents weren’t worried. I was born underweight at 2.9kg, so you can imagine my parents’ satisfaction when I ate well and added weight over the years. In fact according to my mum I couldn’t wear the clothes my brother wore at four months when I was only a month old.
HOME IS WHERE IT HURTS
Kids can be cruel. I was about 6/7 , walking around the estate. I saw some girls and decided to go and try befriend them but when I got close enough one made a comment about my weight and size and they both burst into laughter, “fat mama” is what they called me.. there was no one else around us at the time.
We moved, this brought about mixed emotions in me, this is because having no friends in the previous area, I resorted to playing with my pets(we had dogs, cats and birds which were sadly eaten by the dog )and this current estate does not allow pets.
I wanted a change in my life. I was 11 and wanted to have ‘neighbourhood friends’. One night KPLC decided we didn’t need electricity and unfortunately the generator that was available was only for the security systems and street lamps. We were out walking, all of us but I was shy of talking to them, I didn’t know how. As we were passing under one street lamp one boy not so quietly told another “Look at the size of her stomach” and they then proceeded to laugh. I think I cried that night..in my bed the only place I felt safe.
FAMILY DON’T REALISE THEY HURT US TOO
You’d think your family wouldn’t partake in bringing you down right? Wrong? When it comes to family, it hurts the most because these are people who are supposed to love you unconditionally and aim to bring you up when you’re down.
It was an uncle’s wedding year 2012, I was asked to be a bridesmaid, God knows why, I am not close to him, in fact that was the first time I had heard of him.. anyway.. I went for the dress fitting with my mother , I wasn’t feeling confident at all in the dress especially because of the design and the material but it was too late to back out .. I step out of the changing room to find an aunt of mine ( married to my dad’s brother) talking to my mum. She didn’t even bother to say hi, just watched as my mum checked on the dress and the fitting, she then decided to unleash her thoughts..‘Ivy you’re too fat!”
I honestly cannot explain how that made me feel, and how for the rest of the day I had to hide the fact that I wasn’t affected by it, I even managed to convince myself that I wasn’t hurt at all.
SCHOOL, THE SECOND HOME
Personally, I was in the same school for 12 years (cue the 12 years a slave jokes) and reflecting on my life there now, I can safely say that they also had a role to play in feeding my insecurities. First of all, and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, the liturgical dancers were always a certain height/size.Okay, maybe that was their personal preference but did they really take the time to think about the impact selectively excluding a group of girls because of their physique could have on them? Probably not. The rest of us were made to watch them practice day in and day out because they didn’t have clothes that could fit us. Couldn’t they have invested in adjustable outfits? (I must admit however that I noticed a change in this trend a few years later).
Now my close friends know that one of my biggest insecurities is my thighs. Trust me when I say that the school played a role in feeding this insecurity. Being called aside during a swimming class and told to invest in a biker(a tight fitting black short) to wear with your costume because your thighs are thick and not firm doesn’t really sit well with a young adolescent, it wasn’t only me though, in following classes I noticed that all ‘big’ girls had been made to buy it. Ever since then, I’ve been so ashamed of my thighs, I’ve always fantasised about getting a thigh reduction just so that they aren’t as big.
BE CAREFUL OF THE FRIENDS YOU CHOOSE TO KEEP
When it comes to friendships, we really only have ourselves to blame, because these are people we choose to keep around us.
I had a friend in high school and we were close, inseparable you may say. Our friendship was not a healthy one at all. She’d make all sorts of comments about my body such as my weight or the thickness of my lips(yet another insecurity of mine), you may say it was just banter but truth is it was beyond that and I knew it. Instead of distancing myself from all that negativity, I chose to stay and suffer. Things got so bad I slowly started changing things about myself like my smile, I tried to reduce the thickness of my lips during that simple action because apparently light skins aren’t supposed to have thick lips.
We were reshuffled at the end of form 2 and I was moved to the other class. Honestly, I saw this as my escape route despite feigning sadness at the thought of not being in the same class. For the remaining two years I was constantly being asked why we stopped being friends and being thrown for comments such as “…but you guys were soo close…” someone even had the audacity to tell me that I was hurting her by ignoring her and not talking to her.
Okay maybe I used extreme methods to distance myself but if I was to go back I wouldn’t do it any other way knowing the kind of person I am.
Truth is, when you allow people into your life, you give them some sort of power. With this power, they can either help you or destroy you depending on how close they can get. It’s better to find yourself and save you from being put down so much you can’t take it anymore. If a friendship isn’t beneficial to you, leave, no one is holding you back.
Who came up with the idea of a perfect body type? Everyone is allowed to have their preferences but there’s no need to bring another down just because they don’t fit your idea of perfect.
We all need to watch what we say carefully, truth is you may think you’re just messing around with someone but once you touch on their insecurity you can really hurt them.
Children should be taught from an early age to love each other despite their differences. That way as they grow up, they’ll embrace the diversity of people openly.
You may ask why I’m doing this? Well I’m doing it for the big girls, the small girls and the ones in between. I’m also doing it for the boys because they go through similar experiences but shy away from sharing them.
Love yourself so fiercely no matter what anyone says to you because at the end of the day you only have yourself. Walk with so much confidence that no one will be able to bring you down.
My insecurity ate me from the inside. To date I consider myself a very shy person and would prefer to be alone majority of the time. I am still very insecure about a lot of things, still learning how to deal with my insecurities. I make baby steps each day , because I know I’ll eventually get to a place where I have a sense of security.