Especially when it comes to matters of the heart, insecurity is definitely not attractive. But Tan Lili wonders, what if we can harness the presence of it for personal growth?
Just the other day, Vanessa and I were talking about the beginning stages of our own relationships, and we noticed a startling similarity between the two of us: We’d enter a relationship expecting it to be terribly short-lived.
But then again, perhaps it’s not that startling a revelation. Insecurities are often heightened at the start of anything new; it’s normal to doubt oneself and each other when you’re both going through experiences together for the first time. But I know how detrimental these feelings of inadequacy can be if left to fester; they create a self-perpetuating cycle (e.g. you interpret his silence as a lack of concern, which perpetuates your preconceived perception), which may sometimes turn into self-fulfilling prophecies (e.g. your insecurity prompts you to cling on to your partner, causing him to pull away). The good news is, people always say these self-doubts would dissipate as the relationship settles.
Well, then I’m screwed. Because as Vanessa and I delved deeper into our conversation, I discovered something about myself – that even after more than 10 years in a relationship, I’m still plagued by insecurities every so often. For instance, whenever a beautiful woman walks by, I’d instinctively tense up and expect my boyfriend to wonder what he saw in me in the first place. Now, rationally, I’m aware I’m not hideous and that I do possess some admirable assets. But there’s this tiny voice at the back of my mind that pushes unwelcomed thoughts to the forefront, making me dissect details to find imagined flaws and see problems where none exist.
However, I’m also starting to see the positive in insecurity. Despite my issues, they don’t become self-fulfilling prophecies – and I have no intention of ever turning that around. And one factor that plays a big part in strengthening my resolve is, strangely enough, insecurity.
I remember reading an online series a while ago about this very topic. The author wrote about how the presence of an insecurity shouldn’t have any negative connotations; rather, it’s our reaction to it that makes or breaks the problem. I definitely agree. To me, the presence of mine allows me to be aware of uncertainties, that nothing is set in stone. Instead of turning me into an overly attached girlfriend, that very knowledge not only makes me better appreciate what I have today, but also drives me to constantly improve myself for personal growth.
For that reason, my insecurities are slowly but surely being chipped away over the years. Using the same beautiful-woman example, my irrational fear – that my boyfriend would be attracted to someone else – would eat at me for days in the past. But now, that fear is present but fleeting. Even though I’m well aware that things can change, I’m at least self-assured enough to give myself a little credit and simply enjoy the moment.
I do not know of a single person who feels 100-percent secure about himself. Maybe it’s time we stop berating ourselves for our occasional jabs of self-doubt. As the late psychoanalyst Eric Fromm said, “The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.”
Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Tan Lili talks about building long-term relationships and the highs and lows of being in one. Stay tuned for more!
About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction.