Spend enough time scrolling through Instagram or aimlessly clicking through Pinterest boards and you’ll see all kinds of advocacy for something called “quiet confidence,” where you recognize your strengths and feel comfortable in yourself without needing to prove to anyone else that you have value. Now that’s all well and good for the “wake up at 6, in bed by 10” crowd, but I tried quiet confidence and let me tell you, it pales compared to the rush of loud insecurity.
I was telling my therapist about how any criticism at work eats away at me to the point that I’m running back and forth to the bathroom to soak paper towels in water to hide any signs of crying. She suggested I do some journaling to help me untangle my negative thought patterns. Now, I can’t say this didn’t work because I didn’t bother trying it. Instead, I loudly mentioned every mistake made by my coworkers to help deflect any criticism. This has yielded far more satisfying results.
This isn’t limited to the workplace. I’ve also harnessed this power to turn all my interpersonal relationships into one-sided pleas for validation that inevitably implode when the other person has enough of me bringing up that I was wait-listed at Dartmouth any time I’m around someone who I perceive to be smarter than me. Did I get in? Nope. But that doesn’t mean I can’t name-drop an Ivy League school to help puff up my ego for a minute!
I also have to shout out the internet and social media for making it so easy to broadcast my debilitating lack of self-esteem. After all, what better way to scrutinize my worth as a human than by giving me an endless number of platforms to express how I have no conception of myself as anything but a vessel for others’ scorn? And if I don’t get enough likes on a post, I’ll definitely follow it up with another one directly pleading for attention. How many is “enough?” I still don’t know!
But here’s what I do know: loud insecurity has helped me to realize my life’s purpose, which is to try and do all I can to be recognized as worthwhile and desirable without any sort of willingness to reflect on my flaws and work to change them through consistent effort. That’s pretty special, right?