This is going to be a little different from my “usual” posts. I feel obligated to speak about this topic because I see it far too often, in myself and in the other people around me. For my entire life, I’ve been caught up in what others think of me. I constantly subjected myself to self-scrutiny, and not in a good way. I wanted to be liked. I became a perfectionist because I was afraid of what people might think or say about me if I failed. And that fear of failure prevented me from taking risks, in all aspects of life.
The problem in today’s world is it’s way too easy to feel some sort of artificial validation by the amount of likes, friends and followers you have. And for someone who wants to be “liked”, it’s dangerously easy to get caught up in social media. We use social media as our “highlight reel”, plucking the best, most glamorous, share-worthy moments of our life and putting them on display. It’s easy to create a false perception of reality, and it becomes easier to feel insecure about your own life. I’m guilty of falling into this trap, as well. Before I’d post on Twitter or Instagram, I’d pause and ask myself: do you think this will get a lot of likes? Will people actually like this? And if the answer was no, I’d refrain from posting.
To be honest, I was having second thoughts about posting this, too. What if they judge me? What if they think this post is stupid? But no. I will no longer allow myself to be a prisoner of other people’s judgement. Let me say that again. I will no longer allow myself to be a prisoner of other people’s judgement. I made that decision after having a particularly tearful breakdown to my boyfriend, all because I was fed up with my acne scars. My freaking acne scars. I was sick and tired of having to cover them up with makeup every day. I wanted to stop wearing makeup, but I felt forced to cover them up so people wouldn’t judge my less than perfect complexion. You see, for years, I thought my scars made me ugly; that they were something to be ashamed of. I felt like a slave to makeup. I thought, if I had the choice, I wouldn’t even wear makeup. But the thing is, I do have a choice. I can choose to fall victim to my own insecurities, or I can stop worrying about what other people are going to think about me, and focus on the more important things in my life.
This decision to relinquish my fear of judgment hasn’t come easy. It’s difficult not to care about something that once made you so insecure. The key is to surround yourself with non-judgmental people who make you feel good about yourself. I’m lucky enough to have a strong web of friends who care about me and my wellbeing, and an extremely supportive boyfriend who reminds me I’m beautiful even on my worst days. They give me the support I need to feel confident, proud, and fearless. But that didn’t just happen overnight! I had to let go of my fair share of relationships with people who dragged me down instead of lifting me up. It may take you a while to find that right group of people, but I’m telling you, they’re out there. Also, you should never feel guilty for cutting somebody toxic out of your life. That is an extremely brave, responsible decision and it’s not easy to do, but your mental health will benefit tremendously from doing so.
You also must remind yourself that these insecurities are all in your head. Instead of caring about how others view us, we should care more about how our actions make others feel. Instead of focusing on making the world like us, we should focus more on making sure our loved ones respect us. We should be proud of our accomplishments, instead of fearing our failures. Everybody has insecurities – even the most beautiful, successful, “perfect” people have their flaws. What’s important is that we embrace our flaws instead of hiding from them. Remember that you are not alone. We can all work to relinquish our insecurities together.