11 Pointless Insecurities I’m Trying To Get Over By 30

letting-go

1. Not knowing how to cook “go-to dishes.
Learning how to cook, and cooking well, takes time. I’ve never been someone who had a “signature dish” they could whip up on demand when requested at social gatherings, and it’s been a source of worsening insecurity as I get older. Every time I hear someone recount a mouthwatering dish one of their friends made them, I’m acutely aware that the only thing I can make well are baked goods and pastries. However, I feel like I’m being too hard on myself because the more people I meet who are really into cooking, the more I realize it’s a skill set that takes years to build up. It’s typical that these people have usually already been working on it for a few years by the time I meet them, and it’s not fair to compare myself to someone who’s given cooking much more attention that I have. I’m learning that, when it comes to learning how to cook, there’s no sense in punishing myself for not having mastered multiple dishes. It’s counterproductive. All I can do is cook frequently until it feels natural and easy. And, instead of shying away from more complicated dishes, I’m learning that being open minded (instead of insecure) is the ticket to doing it better.

2. Working in a “non-traditional” job.
A lot of people I know from back home and/or meet have a hard time wrapping their heads around what I do, as working at an internet startup isn’t something most people imagine to be very profitable. However, it’s something I know is, and it’s my job to explain to them (patiently) how and why instead of getting exasperated or defensive. It’s something I’ve been insecure about for the last two years, and working on letting it go completely will free me from this in-between limbo of feeling like I need to please people, and allowing myself to dive headfirst into the structure and realities of working at a startup — no matter how other people view what I do.

3. Speaking only one language.
As I write this, I’m sitting in France reflecting on how poorly I ordered my dinner last night, using my extremely base-level knowledge of French. Rather than being insecure and self conscious about it, it’s time to fucking DO something about it. Simple as that.

4. Feeling nervous to go out of my comfort zone.
There are a lot of thing that this job involves, which make me nervous, chief among them is being on camera and having to speak openly about my personal life. However, over these last two years, I’ve learned that going out of my comfort zone usually leads to wonderful outcomes I could have never anticipated. I’ve realized that nervousness does precious little for me, and it’s high time I start turning that emotion into something powerful instead of letting it distract me. Being nervous about things I haven’t yet done or experienced only leads to inaction and fear, and also makes me second guess whatever choice I’ve made/am making. Not good. Instead, I want to be reasonably cautious but open-minded and positive — never uselessly jittery and scared. To me, nothing would feel more adult-like than embracing challenges in work (and in my personal life) instead of being afraid of them.

5. Needing alone time.
Being with people depletes my energy most of the time. Sometimes, it’s invigorating and recharges me, but mostly I feel tired after interactions with large groups of people. Since I fall in the straight-up middle of the spectrum between introvert and extrovert, I used to think I’d never be happy unless I fully committed to being one or the other. However, I’m learning to be much more at ease with my “sometimes” attitude toward wanting to hang out in big groups of people. It’s okay to swing back and forth about it, and feel differently depending on your mood. In fact, I’m sure most people feel this way. It’s high time to let go of feeling ashamed that I need a good amount of alone time to recharge. I’ll be a better friend and person for it just admitting it and moving on.

6. Missing out on things back home.
Feeling insecure about being the one who left for the biG cItY, who’s now missing out on stuff going on back home, is one of the biggest insecurities I need to let go of. For me, I only moved out of my hometown a year ago, and it still feels like I temporarily “flew the coop,” and I’ll move back there eventually. However, as I get older, the idea of what “home” is and where is it changes, and I think it’s natural to wonder whether or not you’re making the “right” choices. I’m excited to get to a place where I truly feel like I’ve embraced my new city and apartment as my home base — not insecure for choosing to rent while my other friends are buying homes. When people express that they would never move to New York City, it’s easy to feel judged. However, I need to remember that everyone has the freedom and flexibility to make their own choices for what they feel is right — myself included. It’s a waste of time and energy to reflect on the things I might be missing out on, and instead, I need to focus my attention on the future, and how I can forge new relationships with my friends as the ~city gal~.

7. Saying “no” to people.
For too long I’ve beat myself up over being the person who has to say “no” to doing something, hanging out, or attending an event because I’m busy. I’m super insecure about being perceived as self-important if I’m rushing around to get things done. It makes me feel as if my choices are ones I have to apologize for. However, all of the “I’m sorrys” translate to me feeling like I’m constantly letting people down and that my life choices have to somehow be atoned for. That’s certainly not a heathy way to live, and I’m working on letting go of this mind game I play with myself, and to embrace honesty. Like, “Yes, I made this choice, and there are going to be things I have to pass on because of that choice.”

8. Not having a professional “adult” capsule wardrobe.
Every time I go downtown specifically, and see women ducking into a coffee shops wearing the most perfectly-tailored blazer and skinny jeans, paired with buttery soft cashmere sweaters and luxurious leather over-the-shoulder bags, I want to bury my face in my latte. However, I resist the temptation to fall into a shame spiral about my own less-than-ideal wardrobe back in my own closet. I’ve realized it takes time to built a cohesive, beautiful, and intentional closet, which should be an enjoyable and long-term project. It doesn’t happen overnight. I’ll get to a place where I, too, feel in love with every item I own. But, I’m learning it’s not a race to get there. I’ll continue to sip my latte, appreciate these women’s style game, and continue to live my life being proud of myself.

9. Not having a perfectly “fit” body.
I’ve always had a difficult relationship with myself in the sense that I feel equally defeated and saddened by the loss of my former “dancer” body. (It sounds bleaker than it is, lol, but I’m sure people can relate.) I danced all my life, up until senior year of college at 22-years-old, and it was the defining feature of my social calendar.

I went to practice three to four times a week plus two to three days spent training or “conditioning” at the gym with my other teammates. I was always “fit” — though I never had washboard abs or was a size-0, but I was strong, flexible, and toned. Ever since I started working full time and stopped dancing, that physique has proven increasingly difficult to maintain. A combination of working longer hours, sitting in chairs, and pursuing more sedentary design hobbies with more enthusiasm, like sketching and drawing, has meant less time spent being “active.” I still go running semi-regularly and walk a lot every day (a by-product of living in NYC), but it’s always a challenge to look at girls on my old dance team now and think, “damn, I used to be that strong and athletic.” (If I were to take a ballet class now??? Good. Lord.) Anyway, I’m working hard to let go of that insecurity and embrace my reality and stop living in the past. I want to feel proud of my body for being able to run four or five miles around the park instead of punishing it for not being able to complete a full ballet class. I want to learn to be kind to my now (admittedly) softer body, and do what I can, but not feel constant guilt about it.

10. Not owning property.
I used to think that owning property would be the hands down biggest accomplishment of my adult life. However, that achievement it being put on hold because I co-own a company that demands time, money, and energy to build. Taking on a challenge like this is a huge feat in and of itself, and if it means putting other life goals on hold while I finish one thing at a time, well, that’s certainly something I’m going to try and stop beating myself up about. I’m going to stop feeling like I’m somehow behind everyone else, and truly embrace my own life timeline, even if it looks a bit different than someone else’s.

11. Feeling reluctant to own a pet.
It’s perfectly okay if I don’t want to own a pet, even though I thought it made me feel immature that I felt scared about the responsibility it brought. Instead of feeling nervous that my reluctance will mean I won’t be a good mom, I’m going to respect myself enough to admit it’s because I simply want to be selfish for a little while longer. I don’t want to have to clean up dog poop or vomit, take it to the vet, or find someone to house-sit it while I’m away. I want to live with as little “big” responsibilities and commitment until I’m absolutely ready to make the sacrifice — not guilted into making a choice I feel I “should” be ready to handle.

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  • Anon

    I definitely have that feeling about working out. I feel like I did it so much more often in grad school (and, frankly, before a serious relationship). I’ve found that Google fit makes me feel a little better. Sure, I’m not running as much or going to Pilates 3x a week, but I am regularly clocking 5-7 miles of walking/day, which is not nothing.

  • Tara

    Pet reluctance is real! I bought my pets on a whim (although I did call my mom first to gauge whether I was really responsible enough to take care of two small animals; she affirmed I was) and I don’t regret getting them, but they make life a notch more difficult. They can be left alone for a weekend, but not longer than that, so if I want to travel, I need to get someone to come to my place or I need to take them home to my parents’ house. Then there’s the responsibility of cleaning their habitat, and the accordant expenses. There’s a big payout in that you get these little cuddle buddies out of it, but being a pet owner, even for small animals, is a big responsibility. You shouldn’t feel selfish for delaying pet ownership.

  • TnT

    OMG, yes! I absolutely recognize myself in most of the listed insecurities. I am still learning about saying no more then I do, I have my own company (NGO, actually, it’s even worse :D) and hence no property or my own vehicle (in a county when everyone is having one, because of the lack of public transportation), I am fluent in just one foreign language (English, my French sucks) and I “lost” my dancer body as well. But in the larger scheme of things nothing of those insecurities really matter, true.

  • Charlene

    #6 – Missing out on things back home.

    I feel your pain – I left my hometown a couple of years ago because the recession hit my city hard and there was nowhere to go for new graduates for jobs. I always thought I’d come back once my contract expired, but I ended up in a different city. I’ve hit a stage where I miss my friends and family back home, and the thought of letting go or accepting that we won’t be as close as we were anymore made my heart hurt a little bit.

    Good luck with everything, and thank you for sharing!

  • Summer

    fwiw on #1, I think a lot of people are envious of those who can successfully (and consistently!) bake things. Baking is something I enjoy dabbling in, but it’s definitely hit-or-miss for me on my level of success. I wish I could say that I’m good at making pastries!

  • Lauren

    I’ve been trying to learn French for almost 10 years. Started in high school (my school district was underfunded/spent a lot of money on sports, so you couldn’t take a language until 9th grade). Took it every semester in college. Then lived in France in a town where most people didn’t speak English, met my boyfriend there, had to come back to the US, but we stayed together and we speak mostly French. I read novels in French, I watch French YouTube. I go to conversation groups. I listen to podcasts. And I’m still nowhere near fluent. I can’t understand French language TV and films without reading the French subtitles, and the last time I went to a party with my boyfriend’s friends, I pretty much just sat on a cushion and didn’t say anything because I couldn’t understand anyone. Or my boyfriend will show me a meme that I don’t understand, and I start beating myself up because I feel like it’s been 9 years and how could I fucking forget the word for “sink”?

    And then I meet some people who also started learning languages later in adolescence, and they’re already fluent. And it’s really frustrating, because while I think it’s true that anyone can learn a second language, there does seem to be a natural talent component that I just don’t have. But I’m still really, really proud of myself for not quitting.

    I guess my point in this rambling is that I think it’s awesome that you want to get better at French. Learning a language is hard. But when it works, it’s so worth it!

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