This week I have been thinking a lot about finding joy. What it means to have joy, especially having joy in the things that we are insecure about. The things that we may not love about ourselves, the things we wish we were better at, and the things we see in ourselves that others may not see are things we carry around with us every day. These are things that make us who we are. As I look in the mirror or into my heart and look at the things that I judge myself on I start to feel so weighed down by these things. I am human. And really the more I reflect on what I wanted to say in this post, the more I realized my vanity in life. I care so much about the approval of other mostly on my appearance and more often than not I don’t feel like I win that approval. I look in the mirror and go through the list of the things I would change. I look in my heart and see where I need improvement.
So I decided to interview a handful of college aged women who I respect deeply, and have them be vulnerable about their insecurities and how to find joy in these things. I told them I would be interviewing them, but I did not tell them that I would be taking their pictures. Yay surprises! These are the questions that I asked them:
What are some things that you are insecure about?
Why do you feel that you have these insecurities?
Do you feel like there are certain situations that can cause insecurities to intensify? Examples?
What are somethings that make you feel beautiful and/or loved?
Do you think your beauty is more than just how you look?
How do you think you can find joy in the insecurities?
If you could describe yourself in one word, that maybe no one would see right off the bat, what would it be?
I am insecure about my weight, complexion, grades, social skills and athletic ability. I struggle with comparing my grades to those of others, especially now. I grew up having school come so naturally and I thrived in a small school environment and it was a difficult transition to a huge school with large classes and no one on one attention. I am outgoing, but also very introverted, which makes it difficult to interact with people that I don’t know, and it can be difficult to watch people that this comes so naturally to. I think as women we are taught to compare ourselves to others. We are told what femininity, womanhood or success is supposed to look like. You are supposed to be effortlessly happy, have lots of friends and makes good grades. You are not supposed to breakdown, so when you do, you tend to feel like a failure. It is important to be vulnerable about these things and know that you aren’t alone and this happens to everyone. In social situations we have been taught that we are supposed to sum one another up. Specifically in groups of other girls I feel as if all eyes are on me, it’s very uncomfortable. Meeting new people can be hard because I always carry my struggles in the back of my mind. Words of Affirmation, encouragement and love from others are extremely important to me and are an important way I feel love. Mostly I rely on my faith to grant me security with who I am. Even in moments of loneliness or despair I know God will always love me when others fail to. Beauty is more than how you look; it is how you feel about yourself. You can definitely carry how you feel to the outside. If you have a joyful heart you will be able to see that on the outside. It will not be contained. On finding joy in the insecurities, just being secure in the fact that I am a daughter of God and that’s where my beauty and my worth comes from. Not taking myself so seriously. My daily struggles are important and my gifts are supposed to used, but God is not going to love me any less because of these. There are many we can look to who faced persecution, who had their own insecurities who felt ugly, and worthless, but their strength, courage, love for The Lord paints them beautiful in our minds and these are things that inspire us. My word would be balanced. I felt conflicted in my identity for so long because I can be messy and organized or patient and impatient. I realized that there was a balance in me and that is a very good thing.
If I don’t do good enough I will disappoint my parents, how I look in pictures, and I have trust issues. Making my parents proud is so important to me. I care about things because they care. They don’t pressure me to do well in school, but it is an underlying expectation. I think most parents have expectations of who and what they want you to be, and trying to live up to that can be difficult. I am not insecure about how I look in everyday life as much as I am when it comes to pictures of myself. I will constantly think about the way my arm looks or what others will think. I know that people say they don’t care what people think, but thoughts creep in and it’s hard because people always have something to say. I know people can be so hateful and that’s hard. As far as relationships go I can have a hard time trusting people, being cheated on has brought up trust problems in my life, even though I am in an awesome relationship now it can be hard to be vulnerable. I don’t see my trust being broken now, but it is hard to let go of things that hurt you. When you give so much of yourself to a person, you don’t expect to get hurt by them, and when they do it is hard not to let that have no affect on you. I think if someone you truly care about does something that hurts you whether it’s a thought, comment or action, it can intensify your insecurities. I appreciate affection at times, not just my boyfriend, but friends and family. Especially my brothers, when they give me hugs I feel so loved because they are boys and it can be difficult for them to show love at times. Little gifts. If someone brings me a sweet tea I feel loved. When friends listen and have conversation with me I definitely feel cared about and loved. I am loved because of all the things the Lord has blessed me with over the years, not only friends and family, but the little things like being able to go to school here (Texas A&M). He gives me little signs throughout my life that encourage me to not care about what everyone else thinks and encourages me to fight my insecurities. I find joy in remembering that we were made exactly how The Lord planned and there is no flaw in us, and you may be insecure about things, but Jesus doesn’t see those things. And you can rest in that. You may think you are too big or not smart enough, but He made you perfectly. I am not exactly where I want to be and there is always room for improvement. You aren’t stuck where you are forever. You can always work on it. Everyone has his or her own form of beauty. It is not how you look but how you portray yourself and how you see yourself. You should feel beautiful in how you live your life. I am passionate. I have a hard time picking what I want to be because I have a ton of passions that are so unrelated; it is hard for me to choose. When I do something I do it with my whole heart. I love very deeply and so hard. I tend to get very invested in the lives of the people in my life.
I wish I were a better listener, trier, a better friend not just being there when it is convenient for me. I wish I was better to my sister and be a real friend to her not just a “oh we are related”. I don’t like asking my dad for money because I know he works hard for that and I don’t like taking advantage of that. I feel like I neglect the needs of my mom even though she is always there for me. Our parents give us good things and we never return the favor or we tend to not have a grateful heart. I wish I dedicated my time to being a better student. I am not paying for my school but I am also not treating it like I am. My future, I have something in mind but it probably wont play out that way. I can’t look the way that I feel like I am supposed to, to appeal to society. I don’t spend enough time with my grandparents, I don’t see them and I am afraid that when I am older I am going to feel like I don’t deserve better, because I wasn’t better. This definitely has something to do with thinking of myself more than others. I am focused on meeting my needs before anyone else’s. I forget to put others before myself. I am not exposing myself to Christ. If you are not adamantly seeking Christ on your own you are going to focus on yourself you are not going to see things the way that you should see things. It is our selfish nature. My insecurities intensify in social situations where there are differing opinions and ideas. I have a hard time because I want to please everyone, but it’s not always possible. I feel loved when people make me feel welcome in a situation, when I feel a place is safe, sneaky hugs, and when someone says that they like my music. It is more self-approval, when I feel like I have done something that is good. I love when people want to hang out just to be together, not having to do anything extravagant just wanting to be with one another. Sometimes I think the most attractive thing about a person is when they are kind. It’s the little things. When people care for other people it’s attractive to me, and I think that is beautiful. Like when you buy a $1 bottle of water to send kinds to a baseball tournament and two blocks down the road you give that water to someone who is homeless, the simple act of trying to be the good and find something that is good and let it feel you. I have joy from the opportunity to have those insecurities and use them to be the happy for someone else. For me to be a part of my family, keep being there and maybe screwing up along the way but still loving them and being loved by them. I have an opportunity to love myself and inspire that in others and help them combat what society says they should be. My word would be Triumphant. My God has conquered the world and the devil and his pals can try to get me down, but in Psalm 2, God laughs at them from His throne in heaven. That is my God and He conquers my insecurities as well.
I am insecure about my skin, what people think about me, like my personality in that I get anxious in social settings and groups of new people. I feel like people can sense that about me. These are things that I have been judged by on the past and because of that they are things that hold me back from making friends or being social. I feel like this is what my insecurities can stem from. Knowing that I do have friends that are not judgmental helps me so that when I am around people who are I don’t have to focus on that, because there is security in the people I surround myself with. With my family they don’t see me for those things so I find comfort in that. A big thing for me is I feel loved through quality time, which is my love language. Beauty is absolutely more than just how you look. Your heart is a true reflection of how God sees you. Your heart is a more pure reflection of you, because you may change your outward appearance to be beautiful to the outside world but a compassionate heart and a heart for The Lord is a truer reflection of you. Understanding that these insecurities aren’t things that define you and knowing that no one thinks about these things when they think about who you are. Mostly understanding the truths about what God says you are and not what the world says you should be, when you accept these truths you can release your insecurities of the world. I would describe myself as exhorting. I am encouraging and uplifting. I may not always be the most outgoing, loud or social, but I like to encourage and find things in people and show them things that they may not see in themselves.
Wow. I mean these gals really said it all. To find joy in these things we just need to understand that they were characteristics that were woven into who we are. As God’s children we should celebrate and appreciate these things, because we were built this way. It was no mistake. There is way more to be joyful about in this world. While I have my laundry list of things that I am insecure about I also have Jesus in my heart and He tells me that I am loved. I am cherished. I am lovely. I am secured. I am delivered. And I am saved. All in all, I will take those things any day.