“I sure can get phony when I get scared …. I stick my nose up in the air… stony… stony when I get scared!” – Joni Mitchell

Have you ever met someone that instantly made you feel unwelcomed? You can’t quite put your finger on it… but you know you’ll always be guarded around them. Over the past year, I’ve experienced that feeling every time I’m around one particular guy. I see him at social gatherings, my temple and community functions and the reception is always uncomfortable. I realize that I’m the type of person you either instantly like or hate… My personality is over the top and I irritate lots of innocent people.  That being said, this man has made it clear which side of the street he’s standing. After an encounter with him today, I realized maybe I’m not the problem… maybe he has insecurities he hasn’t conquered.

Every person in the world has something he or she is insecure about even if only slightly. I could fill a sports arena with mine and have plenty left for the parking lot. Education has always been so important to me. I believe in part because my father is well educated. He was a school teacher and could talk with authority on almost any topic. I love his ability to reason and make difficult decisions. I’ve spent my entire adult life enrolled in some sort of educational program… but I never felt intellectually adequate. As a dyslexic with ADHD, traditional methods of learning have been a struggle.  I’m a fairly smart guy… I have three college degrees… I’m just racked with insecurities that control my life. When I received my undergraduate degree and first MBA, I didn’t attend the graduations. I felt that if I could get the degrees they were of little value. The pattern followed me into three PhD programs… I was accepted… I did well… I quit. I allowed fear and insecurities to rule my life… untreated depression and substance abuse didn’t help the situation.

After years of personal therapy and even more years strapped to textbooks, I’ve learned a little insecurity is manageable … a lot of it in certain areas can ruin your life. When I got sober I had to face my demons…  For me the only way of ridding myself of insecurity is to put myself out there and live through whatever I fear. Believe me… the process sucks, but I think it holds true for everyone to just do it!

Logically, I understand self-doubt is irrational. Insecurity is irrational. Irrationality has no place in my life. All it does is frustrate me when I don’t get the results I’m hoping for. Those that live an insecure life don’t live a happy life.

I know from experience insecure individuals don’t have the confidence to try their hand at enough things. That’s why they have so much trouble figuring out what they really want to do in life. The only way you can figure out how you should best live your life is by testing things out. You try things until you figure out what does and what doesn’t work for you, calculating the probability that the following test will result in positive experiences. You try, you learn, you draw conclusions and you try again… that’s the only way to live. Those that are insecure hold themselves back from trying new things. The more you’re insecure, the less likely you are to find the ideal life. Personally, I think that’s a stupid tradeoff.

Insecure people live in a world of fear of judgment. The more insecure you are, the more that insecurity weighs on your mind. You think more about it and think less about anything else. You live in fear, hoping that no one notices how flawed you are, even if only in one regard. You’re scared of interacting with people because you don’t want them to see through you. People judge… that’s the way we’re built. The real question is: Why does it matter to you so much? Most people won’t be as upset with your flaw as you imagine to begin with. And those that are, never really matter.

Sadly, they half-ass everything and end up living a half-assed life. Things only matter when we decide they matter. How much they matter depends on how much importance and meaning we give them. Your life is exactly that… the more you put in, the more it means. The less you put in, the less you try and the more you avoid responsibility for your life and your actions, the less meaning your life has.

The insecure can never entirely be themselves… they always hold themselves back. Being insecure doesn’t excuse you from functioning within society. For this reason, they function under a false pretense, pretending to be people they aren’t. They hide their flaws and therefore hide themselves. If you’re insecure about something then either change it or remove it from your thoughts. What you can’t change isn’t worth worrying about. Don’t live your life in a shell. All the fun starts when you jump out of it.

Because they never attempt to be themselves, they never really find themselves or get to know themselves the way they should. Most people don’t know themselves well because they don’t take the time to get to know themselves. The only way to get to know yourself is to live and see what happens… see how you react in certain situations, see what you enjoy and what you dislike, experience the world and find your place in it. If you aren’t honest with the world about who you are then you’ll never find a place in it.

Essentially, insecure people live in a world filled with denial. You’re not perfect, but no one is. The only thing you should be insecure about is being irrational and illogical – everything else is subjective and out of your control. By being insecure, you are telling yourself that you’re not good enough the way you are. That’s a lie. You’re accepting a lie as the truth. That’s the textbook definition of denial.

They miss out on the best things that life has to offer. Insecurity forces you to live less… literally. You do less and worry more, accumulating negative thoughts and missing out on new experiences and memorable moments. Life has so much to offer if you go out there and take what is given to you. You have opportunities to explore and grow as an individual daily. Choosing not to take advantage of it all is a waste of a life. Life is hard enough as it is; take whatever freebies are thrown your way.

I have a feeling the guy I mentioned earlier is never going to call and invite me over for a hamburger. Somehow I’ll survive the rejection…. I won’t be happy about it… but it isn’t my issue… it’s his.

There’s a prayer that says to accept the things you can’t change, change the ones you can and figure out the difference between the two. That sounds like a pretty good plan to me.

This is my journey… this is my life.

Rob Cantrell

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