Updated: Oct 25, 2020
By Sonali Bhana
Image via “insecurities,” Justine Cunha.
Insecurity is defined as “uncertainty or anxiety about oneself; lack of confidence,” according to Oxford Languages. No matter how small or big they are, everyone has at least one insecurity, and it is something that people hate or dislike about themselves. Insecurities shape the way that a person sees them-self, which also affects their self-image.
Self-Image is defined as “the idea one has of one's abilities, appearance, and personality,” according to Oxford Languages. Someone can have a positive self-image, only looking at the things that bring up their confidence and happiness in themselves. Although everyone has a positive self-image, that self-image is often covered up by the negative aspects that someone sees about themselves. Thus, frequently people –– especially teens –– only see themselves through their negative self-image.
Teens and young adults are held to society’s toxic and double standards. Because of this, thousands, if not millions of them, develop insecurities that dictate the way they think about themselves and others. This can include constantly comparing themselves to those they think are perfect concerning what they’re insecure about.
For instance, Natasha –– a writer for Voices of Gen-Z –– reveals that her biggest insecurity is her nose. “My nose just ruins everything for me. In my eyes, I don’t think I’ll ever be conventionally pretty or be considered gorgeous,” she wrote.
Due to the media, beauty has become a big part of deciding how people see themselves. Unfortunately, this has also created many toxic mindsets and comments that Natasha explains, “People are more ruthless and tend to think they are entitled to tell you that you can fix what is stuck on you without consideration.” Because of magazines, social media, and multimedia (like film), teens have been groomed to think that being beautiful is only if you look a certain way.
Considering how vulnerable insecurities make us feel, it’s unsurprising that Natasha writes that, “I just don’t appreciate myself.” Insecurities are created from the hurtful words of others and the images of models that society deems gorgeous. It’s hard to look past all the flaws that one has been told constantly that they have, but it’s even harder to accept them when most of the time you are your worst critic.
Anonymous writes how their biggest fear is failing because they will never be good enough. “I often doubt myself constantly and I also put myself down a lot... I just tell myself I’m not smart enough,” they write. In a world where the youth are pressured to be perfect and surrounded by peers who look like they are too, it’s difficult to believe the praising words of others and yourself when you receive them.
Even though insecurities cause us to constantly doubt ourselves, they can also push us to work harder. Anonymous goes on to write, “I try to put myself out there as much as possible and work on mindfulness like my therapist tells me!” in order to help overcome their insecurities. Sometimes, insecurities can promote positive personal growth depending on the way that the person views their supposed flaws.
A big part of the insecurities that develop within teens and Generation Z today are because of adults, parents, and those that the youth look up to or see as role models. Hurtful words that come from those who are supposed to protect you can produce scary mindsets, in which those affected base every single thought and action off of those destructive set of words.
Teens are especially vulnerable considering that they are still young and figuring out several different aspects of themselves. When people who they trust criticize features of themselves, the teens are quick to believe them because they don’t think that they would do anything to intentionally hurt them. Even though those remarks may not be intentional, they still mold future mindsets so that those teens only think a certain way regarding those characteristics about themselves.
That is why It is so important that people, especially the youth, have supportive friends and family that will help bring out the best in them. Diya divulges into what the insecurity of her body image and weight does, and how it does not affect her as much as others because of the positive support system she is surrounded by. “I haven't done anything extreme because I've never been in a situation where I can fall because I have my family to support me.”
Her welcoming personality and the positive comments she’s received from others, such as “little comments [she gets] every day like ‘I like your outfit’ definitely help a lot about [her] body image [too].”
Even though she has her bad mental health days, like everyone else, she knows that at the end of the day “The opinions of others [she’s] not close to don’t matter to [her] much and [that her] family has never brought [her] down about it either.”
Diya continues on to say how,“all my images or ideas of how I’m supposed to look come from movies, Instagram, and Tiktok.” Although, “[her] self-image is better than others because [she] wasn't exposed to social media until high school.” The media’s norm of the word beautiful is given to those who look flawless, skinny, and have clear “natural” skin.
She says that the way she has dealt with it has also been positive, noting, “My diet and health became a little better...I'm more conscious about what I eat, and I go on walks and exercise more than I did before.” She also knows that she’s not alone because others also struggle with it, although some in unhealthier ways, as she has said, “some people joke or make fun of themselves to deal with it.”
She also understands that “others have it worse,” due to the fact that not everyone is fortunate enough to have encouraging, understanding, or caring friends and family. This has led to her appreciating herself more, as well as being able to move on with her life better.
Another anonymous source discloses their insecurity of being alone. It’s created a fear that others hate them, making them “think that something’s wrong with [them] and that [they’re] insensitive and rude and [not deserving of] a lot of [their] friends,” they write.
When asked what specific experience developed their insecurity, the common theme of hurtful words was seen again, “a person who I talked to and considered one of my closest friends called me demanding and ended the friendship.” Accordingly, this has caused much self-reflection and self-assurance that they are loved and not alone. Consequently, they have met more people and strived to keep a positive attitude.
Insecurities cause people to change, and although the differences may not be visible at first, they can be seen by the person making them. “I’m timider and more self-aware than I was before,” Anonymous stated. Though at times it is important to be careful what you say, it has to be remembered that whatever is on your mind is said with kindness and consideration, especially when there are still so many people uncomfortable in their own skin.
It amazes me how people are able to convert the most vulnerable parts of themselves into incredible strength. And though it may not seem so at first, overcoming something you hate about yourself takes time and support, not just from others, but from yourself too. There are still those who are learning to start the process of appreciating themselves, and understanding that they need to take healthy approaches to overcome their insecurities. Because in the end, conforming to people’s standards is not worth it unless it is a standard of your own.
Written by writer Sonali Bhana