When Windfall was still just a concept, I shared it to anyone who would listen. It was this vague idea of meaningful designs and fixing people’s insecurities. An entrepreneur tore the idea apart, as any legitimate critic should, and told me that insecurity is something people get over. That yes, we all experience it when we’re young, but most of us eventually find ourselves.
Her response stuck with me. I couldn’t tell if I had issues with her criticism because of my ego, or if there was something else bugging me I just couldn’t put my finger on.
I wasn’t a popular kid growing up. I held tight to my close-knit group of friends. I couldn’t afford everything I wanted. I tried my best in school (kinda) and did pretty well. My parents were divorced, but the love was there still. I was a somewhat privileged, lower middle-class kid: the perfect star for an angsty teenage sitcom.
I wasn’t sure how to act, who to associate myself with, whether to do this or that. I tried to be a prep, skater, punk, and everything in between. It took me years to finally be me.
Needless to say I was insecure. But who isn’t insecure at the ripe old age of 14?
Ahh the glorious, prepubescent journey of self-discovery. As we delve into life and try to figure out just what in the world is going on, we wonder… how do we fit into this world? (cue /r/im14andthisisdeep) Who am I? We try to establish an identity.
It’s our tendency to associate with that which we’re good at. What we naturally have an aptitude for, what we’ve been blessed with from birth, or what we believe we can push ourselves to be. Because everyone wants to be successful in life. We want to feel fulfilled.
But how grounded is our identity if it’s rooted in anything material?
I’ve been underweight my entire life. I grew up under a barrage of “wow, you are so skinny,” and it got under my skin when I was younger. Most of it wasn’t ill-natured, but it was uncomfortable still; it forced me to think on my failures and insecurities. I tried everything I could, but I just couldn’t put on the weight.
But in college, I had more resources to work with. I worked out regularly, engorged myself at the dining hall, finally seeing some results. I felt more comfortable when I looked in the mirror. My clothes were fitting better. People were noticing the change. I loved it, but I had to stop. Ironically enough, it was unhealthy. Preserving my image had become more of an obligation than a decision. I felt like I had to do this for my self-confidence; to be better.
If I had continued to work out 3 times a week. If I kept eating 5 meals a day. If I hit my goal weight and then some, it’d be a success by our world’s standards. I would have conquered my insecurities through my own hard work and efforts. Tangible results just because I wanted it bad enough. But are we solving the real issues at hand if we just succumb to our insecurities?
Our culture thrives off of the idea that, “If you feel bad about yourself, do something about it. Be who you want to be.”
Rather than evaluating why we feel this way, we accept it as fact: this will make us better, how can we get there? We give in to the idea that our worth is contingent. Contingent on our ability to meet a self-defined criteria for success.
This sentiment bleeds into every aspect of our lives. This insecurity penetrates all demographics. It’s masked by success, exposed through failures, and will inevitably triumph in time. All because we follow the world’s path to success.. only to find that it isn’t quite as fulfilling as we thought.
Is this it?