Especially in our teenage years, we all have something to feel insecure about. Looks and grades are just the tips of the iceberg. So, why is it that we are insecure? Are insecurities always a sign of low self-worth?
First, what are insecurities, and where do they start? In simple words, insecurity is a lack of self-confidence in a certain aspect. Insecurities always start with the thought that we aren’t good enough to be accepted into society because of our flaws. For example, some people think that since they don’t look a certain way, they’ll be made fun of. In fact, according to The Heart of Leadership, 92% of teenage girls want to change something about their appearance to fit in.
Why are most of us insecure about something? There are three main causes of insecurity: failure, social anxiety, and perfectionism.
Failure is the most obvious cause of reduced self-esteem. When people fail, they often chalk it up to not being capable of doing that thing. Sometimes, it may seem like everyone around you is capable of doing that thing, and when it seems like you’re the only one who failed, you blame it on yourself. However, as Winston Churchill once said, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” And while it may seem like failure defines you, it is important to remember it does not.
According to The Child Mind Institute, 32% of people develop social anxiety, the second most common cause of low self-confidence, by the age of 18. People with social anxiety fear social interactions, often because they are afraid of not fitting in. Being pressured to be successful at a young age can sometimes cause this disorder. Social anxiety causes people to be shy and nervous in public, which leads to the belief that something is wrong with them. If this is you, remember that nothing is wrong with you and that you aren’t the only one going through this—there are around fifteen million adults with social anxiety and more than 200,000 cases of this disorder in the U.S. per year, as stated in the article by Mental Health America.
Perfectionism is wanting all your work to be absolutely perfect. It leads to insecurity, and sometimes, depression, when one rejects anything less than perfect. Nothing and nobody is perfect, and people make mistakes. So criticizing oneself for every slip-up only leads to insecurities.
Are insecurities always a sign of low self-esteem? Are they always a bad thing? Contrary to popular belief, the answer is no. Studies have shown that insecurities can actually have positive effects on a person. One such effect is being more realistic in situations where you have to be. A person who is insecure thinks about possible problems before they dive into a situation. They look before they leap, which can be helpful. Another lesser-known effect of insecurity is a determination to improve. When you are insecure, you know you aren’t perfect in certain aspects, so you work to change that.
Insecurities do have positive effects—however, like everything else, balance is key. Too much of anything is never beneficial. If you think your self-esteem is lower than it should be, talk to someone.
Remember: you are never alone.