The Damage of Insecurities

When I was younger, I never felt like I was enough. I was told that I was too fat, too mentally unstable, too dramatic, not ambitious enough. I was even compared to the neighbors’ children. I knew that I was loved, but I always felt like there was more expected from me, and when I would succeed there was still a higher expectation from me. I think feeling that way for the majority of my childhood has brought on a level of insecurity that I am now attempting to battle as an adult. 

I am not a skinny girl. The only time that I have ever been “skinny” was when I was first diagnosed with type one diabetes, and I remained “thin” for a few years after that. I can acknowledge that I have an unhealthy relationship with food. I use food as an emotional crutch, and I can easily say that I sometimes binge. I had a family member who was hyper-fixated on food, and there were always little comments made about my eating and exercising habits. While one could say that their concern was out of the goodness of their heart, it always felt like they would have rathered me to look like them rather than myself, and that was beyond hurtful and damaging. Sometimes I look at myself and I think that I am disgusting, revolting, hideous, and I just want to hide in my bed and not be seen by anyone. Then I think about how I need to limit my calorie count and exercise for hours every day, and I spend hours researching herbal remedies to help suppress my appetite and detox my body, and then I think “why can’t I just have a healthy relationship with my physical body?” When it comes to my physical being, I am either confident with what I look like or I wish that I could be a completely different person. I know we all experience some sort of body dysmorphia, but I can’t help but wonder what my insecurities and relationship with food would look like if I had a different experience growing up. 

Who I am as a person is someone who I have consistently worked on. There are a few memories that I have from growing up that have stuck with me. I remember one time I was in an argument with a parent while one of my grandparents was over, and that grandparent made some comment to my parent and they replied “I have tried to change her but she is already like her blank*.” The moment that comment left their lips I felt immediately not good enough. The person that my parent compared me to was someone that they despised, someone who they wished was completely different, and it made me doubt myself. They wanted to change me. They voluntarily admitted that they made an active effort to change me, who wouldn’t question who they were as a result? Another time where someone close to me made me doubt myself was when I was told that I would never be a success. I would never graduate from college, and essentially, I was going to be a loser. They were right about one thing, I didn’t graduate from college, but that was a choice that I had made when I discovered that there was more to life than working a 8-5 job. I figured out how to live life differently, and although I have zero regrets, the intent with their comment was made out of hostility. To insinuate that I would never be what society’s definition of success is and that I would never amount to anything caused some damage, and once again, made me question myself and what I am capable of. 

To say that I wasn’t loved by my parents would be disrespectful to them as well as untrue because I know that they have loved me for my entire life. The way that my parents showed their love was through providing, and as much as I appreciate and love them for that, who I have become today is who I chose to be, and not who they raised me to be. It would be fair to say that there has been problematic behaviors from both of my mom and dad, as well as extending family, that has affected me into my adult life. There were two people in my life who always brought me comfort, who always made me see my worth and the value that I bring to this world, and I am forever grateful to those two people. My grandma and my aunt were always the ones that I felt the safest around, and I am forever grateful for them, because otherwise I would have had a very lonely childhood. 

Due to the fact that I never felt like I got the love that I was looking for from my parents growing up, I know I have developed an insecurity with the people who are now in my life as an adult. For example, my best friend. I am constantly worried that I am not being a good enough friend to her, or that I am not doing enough for our friendship. Sometimes I worry that her relationships with other people hold more value to her than her relationship with me, and I worry that one day our friendship will end because of that. I know it stems from fear that I am not good enough, and this insecurity is one that I hate the most. I know that she and I have an incredibly special bond that is really hard to come by. We have been friends for well over a decade at this point, and we are family. But I am scared that one day she won’t be there anymore. I feel like it’s an internal battle. I know that we have a solid friendship. I know that we can have open conversations about literally anything and everything will be okay. I have trust in our friendship, and yet I need validation that everything is okay. I am even that way with my husband. If I feel even a slight shift in his energy I immediately think that I am not good enough for him and he wants to leave. I think that something is wrong and that he is no longer happy. Even after he tells me that everything is okay, I still worry. I honestly think that it stems from my best friend and my husband being the first healthy relationships that I have ever had, other than my grandma and my aunt, and I am terrified of losing that. This is something that I recognize is INCREDIBLY unhealthy, and as much as I hate to admit, on the verge of approaching codependency, and I need to learn that I can’t hold so much doubt and fear within my relationships with people. Although I feel like I am the type of person that may need more validation than the “average” person, it is unfair for me to expect those around me to provide that. 

The person that I am today is someone who I have made an active effort to evolve into. There are things about myself that I need to tweak, but that is why we are here. We are spiritual beings having an earthly experience, and to say that I have learned a lot would be an understatement. Of course all of my shortcomings are not my parents fault. I take a lot of responsibility for my faults and flaws. I sometimes wish that my childhood was different, but there is nothing that I can do about my past other than use it to positively influence my present and future. Insecurities are little demons that we all have to battle, and hopefully one day mine will be a part of my past.

*Omitting name due to privacy.

Salem: Part One

I always think about traveling. A lot of times, just for fun, I hop on Expedia and plan trips that I know I will never be able to take. I plan out the flights, the hotel, and the activities. I look at restaurants and I deep dive into the history of where “I am going.” There are so many places that I could only dream of going to when it comes to international travel, and there are places within my own country that I have always wanted to explore. So when the opportunity presented itself for my very first solo trip, I jumped on that quicker than a cheetah going after its prey.

The good news was this: I was finally going to be able to go on a trip! But the dilemma was this: I am literally the most indecisive person that has ever existed, so choosing a place to travel to put me in distress. (Wow, what a problem to have you spoiled brat.) I briefly thought about the pacific northwest, but ultimately decided to pass on that. If I were going to go on a domestic trip I wanted to make sure that I chose a place that I have always wanted to go. I then narrowed it down to three choices: Washington DC, New Orleans, and Salem. I decided that I wanted to save Washington DC so that one day I could go with my dad, so now it was between New Orleans and Salem. New Orleans has always intrigued me, and during my time in Texas, I always wanted to go on a road trip there. My husband had been there many years prior to our relationship and wasn’t a fan, so he never wanted to go with me. Salem is a place that I have often thought about. Its deep and morbid history always seemed to have some sort of calling to me, so I finally made the decision to make my way east.

I had been to Massachusetts once before, and it was probably the best trip that I have ever been on. A week after my twenty-first birthday my best friend and I went to Boston to visit her sister, and it was such a memorable trip. We saw the Freedom Trail, we went whale watching, and we drank like fish. It was incredible and I remember it fondly. I always talked about making my way back to Massachusetts, so when I made my final decision about traveling alone to Salem, I was beyond excited. Like, embarrassingly excited. The moment I booked my flight and my hotel, my body became mostly adrenaline and I couldn’t stop telling my family and friends about the plans that I had just made. After a couple of hours of nonstop talking, jumping, and screaming, “I’m going to Salem!” I finally wore myself out and needed to go to bed. It is safe to say that I made the right choice.

When I woke up I was still massively excited, but for another reason other than the vacation aspect of it. Of course, I was incredibly eager to visit a place that I have always wanted to visit; however, I was also excited because I saw this solo trip as an opportunity to explore self-love. You see, as independent as I like to think that I am, I still think that there is a part of me that relies on others for certain things. Take New Orleans for example. I never road tripped there because my husband never wanted to go with me, and I honestly don’t think I ever thought about going on my own. When it comes to big things such as travel, I have always had it in my head that if I can’t find someone to go with me then I just won’t go at all. But after thinking about that mindset, I started to become upset with myself. This is my life. This is the one chance that I have to learn and to explore and to do things that will bring me happiness. So why have I always thought that I couldn’t do something as incredible as traveling on my own? Why have I put aside the places that I wanted to experience just because I couldn’t find another person to experience it with me? So when I booked this trip to Salem, a place that I have always wanted to go to, but no one else that I was close to was interested in, I started a new chapter in my life. The chapter where I actively make an effort to do things for myself that will bring me joy.

I think that there is a difference between being selfish and making sure that you are being kind to yourself. So far in my life, I have never seen myself as a priority. My husband, my animals, my family, and my best friend have always been the most important to me. I became so used to being shut down when it came to experiencing things with the people that I care about, that whenever I asked someone to do something with me I became numb to the feeling of my desires being put to the side. But the funny thing is, I never had to do that. I have had the power all along to follow through with the things that I have wanted, but I guess I just never saw it that way. I suppose I thought that experiences such as traveling would be more meaningful or special if it was experienced with someone you care about, but then that made me think, “Wait a minute, I care about myself. I could do with some quality time alone.” And the moment I had that epiphany was the moment that I changed my life for the better.

I didn’t really have any fears about traveling alone. Although my family, my husband, and my best friend were worried about my safety, that was never a concern of mine. My two biggest concerns were being away from my animals and, as silly as this may sound, eating alone at restaurants. Yeah, the thought of possibly getting hurt in a freak accident or being sliced and diced by a stranger never crossed my mind, but eating alone… Frightening. I am proud to say that I conquered my fear of eating alone like the true champ that I am, but leaving my animals and not having control over their safety is still anxiety-inducing. But whenever I get too worried, I just have to remind myself that they are safe and are in good hands and that I am allowed to enjoy myself while I am away.

I booked my trip pretty last minute, so the seven days between booking the trip and leaving were filled to the brim with buzz and eagerness. I spent hours upon hours planning out the areas that I wanted to explore, looking into tours, browsing the shops, and researching nearby restaurants. I wrote out everything that I wanted to do and figured out how far it was from my hotel. I made an organized list of each place with the addresses, hours, prices, and what kind of activity each place was. (Everyone, meet Brookana. She is type a.) The more I planned, the more ready I was to start this new adventure.

I woke up at four in the morning the day that I left, and all of my excitement turned into anxiety and sadness. I couldn’t believe that I was going to go to another state all by myself. What if something happened to the animals? What if something happened to my husband? What would I do if someone got hurt and I was a thousand miles away? What about eating alone?! I looked down at my dog, Luna, as I was about to leave and just saw betrayal in her eyes, and I felt immediate guilt. All these fears and insecurities crept back in, and they kept intensifying the closer I got to the airport. While I was sitting at the gate, I spoke to my husband on the phone as he was driving to work and all I felt was longing for him. I missed him and the furbabies already. For a moment, just a brief moment, I thought about leaving the airport and going back home. But then I realized that I was allowing my fears and my doubt to control the amazing thing that I was about to experience, and I shut it down as fast as I could.

When I boarded the plane I was feeling pretty confident and I felt my excitement starting to creep back in, but I was still slightly worried. But with that being said, the moment the plane started to accelerate down the runway and I felt that we were off of the ground, I caught myself smiling.

Plane Picture 1

Conquer the Fear

I have always had a funny relationship with dreams. Not the kind of dreams where your mind tells you stories while you slumber, but the kind of dreams that you wish you could make happen. The goals that run through your mind constantly. The kind of dreams that make you think “it would be so cool if this could happen for me.” I have had a couple of those dreams, the kind where I constantly say “I wish” to, and I always wondered if I would be brave enough to try to make my dreams become a reality.

I have spoken about this before, but for as long as I can remember, my biggest dream was to become a writer. I don’t even need to be an extremely successful writer, but a writer nonetheless. I wanted to share stories, life lessons, and informative pieces. I wanted to be able to write something that someone out there could relate to. I wanted my words to start a dialogue between strangers, bringing all of us together in some sort of way. I wanted to come up with fictional stories that could captivate an audience and have them asking for more. I have longed for my imagination to take me to a place in my career that I could be proud of, but there was one thing standing in my way. Fear. 

I take that back. Fear wasn’t the only thing keeping me from trying to accomplish my dream, but it definitely was the biggest factor. I always told myself that if I were to ever try to make something out of myself through my writing that I would put every ounce of energy into it. Everything that I have would be dedicated to this one massive dream of mine. However, the circumstances that I was in both financially and mentally would prevent me from being able to do that, that is, until recently. 

Finances have been a strain for Stephen and me for many years. It seemed like every time we were able to save money and feel like we were finally getting to a place of financial stability something would happen that would wash that sense of security straight away. “It’s just a part of life.” “Welcome to being an adult.” “No one ever said that growing up would be easy.” That is what people would tell me about the unfortunate cost of being alive. Also, let’s not forget the worst day of the year for people who rely on medications to live: January 1st. Being a type one diabetic is incredibly expensive, and January 1st is the day that your deductible resets. It always feels like a slap in the face when you have to worry about paying for an insurance premium, a deductible, and the medication that you need in order to keep breathing. A major thanks to my pancreas for adding that stressor to my life. Anyways, I had to work at jobs that I absolutely loathed in order to get by, much like the majority of our society. While I would work, I would fantasize about one day being able to write and have my words be read by the world, but by the time that I would come home from work I had little to no energy to put into my dream. It was a vicious cycle. Work. Dream. Fantasize. Go home. Crash. Repeat.

When it comes to my mentality, I always wanted to have the energy to just make my dream happen. I knew that in order for my writing to flourish I had to put in the work. I knew from the beginning that if you want something in this world that it won’t be handed to you, and if you want it bad enough one day it could be yours. But you have to work for it. I never wanted anything to just be handed to me, but I was too emotionally drained to be able to work towards my goal. As I said, I HATED all of my previous jobs, and they made me feel worthless. I felt like such a disappointment, and it sunk my self-worth to basically nothing. I was already dealing with depression and anxiety, so feeling down on myself for my career left me with nothing. And when you already lack any sort of energy, when you feel like you are sucked dry of everything that you are, you just go into survival mode. I was a walking zombie, just living life on autopilot. When you are in that mode, you just don’t have the extra energy to put into “extra” luxuries, such as accomplishing a dream. You’re just trying to stay alive. 

Eventually, finances started to become better, and with a ton of work, so did my emotional stability. I entered the unexplored territory in my life where I had an option to quit my paying job in order to try to make my dream come true. I never, ever imagined in my entire twenty-six years on this planet that I would ever have this opportunity as an option, and now that it could be a possibility it scared the hell out of me. I started second-guessing if I could actually afford to quit my job, I wondered if it was the responsible thing to do, and I worried that my husband might end up resenting me for not going into an actual job every day as he does. I had developed all of this doubt to the point where one day I would talk myself up and say “I am just going to do it.” Then the next day I would say “I can’t do this. What was I thinking?” I was driving my husband insane with my doubt and fear, and finally, he just told me to quit my job and focus on my writing. It was kind of a “now or never” type situation. It is odd to me that after spending years imagining, hoping, and fantasizing about this moment that suddenly I was pumping the breaks. I think it is one of those things that you never think is in the cards for you, and when you finally have an opportunity to make it happen it puts you in a state of shock. And then that state of shock turns into doubt, and then that doubt turns into fear. But after talking to my therapist and doing some major introspective work, I made the decision to quit my job to attempt to make my dream come true.

It was scary. It still is scary to this day. As it stands, I am two months into what could be a life-altering choice that I made. But with that being said, I don’t think that I have ever been happier about myself. So here is the thing. I am not oblivious or naive to the fact that there is a high probability that nothing will come from this. I know that I am asking for a lot from the universe to give me the success that I desire from my writing, but I just want it so bad. I live for my writing. I live for my audience. It brings me so much satisfaction whenever I push the “Publish now” button on my website. It warms my heart whenever someone messages me about a piece that I wrote. I am thriving. I feel alive. My spark is growing larger and larger with each day that passes. Yes, as per usual, the unknown is terrifying. I do not know where this is going to take me in my life. But do you know what sounds even more terrifying to me? Not knowing if my dream could have been a reality. Always pondering the idea if I made the right choice by not running towards my lifelong dream. I will never regret the choice I made to try to improve my life by chasing my dream, and I will continue to thrive on it until the moment I draw my final breath. 

Fear was one of the strongest internal opponents that I have ever had to face, but man does it feel amazing to conquer that monster.