Enlustered


Inevitably Insecure
October 10, 2011, 12:48 am
Filed under: Human Potential

I used to always be scared of being too different for anyone to understand, of being psycho, and snobby. I look back and see myself as an extremely insecure person, so I don’t know why I was afraid of seeming snobby. I’m bringing this up because I’m about to sound like a total snob.

I went to a writers conference Friday and yesterday and just felt like it was so off key. What people need is not what the conference offerred: tons of advice and correcting. What people need is to feel like they’re free and able to do their thing, which comes from self-confidence.

I left early from the conference Friday and felt strongly that I didn’t want to return, even though I did. Later Friday I realized I felt haunted by the conference’s atmosphere of insecurity, which is an obvious bi-product of continuously looking to others for advice and approval. Insecurity is also the opposite of what people need to speak with AUTHORity.

It hurts, but also helps to see that no entity (not even a group of “free thinkers”) is unscathed by America’s culture of insecurity.

Insecurity is not so bad for a writer (or probably ANYONE!) if he owns it. But owning our words, actions, and true motives seems strongly discouraged in American culture.

People in my life have recently helped support my belief that we disown parts of ourselves that seem unacceptable: “No, I wasn’t offended by the little boy saying I was fat,” or “I was just tired, not distancing myself from you.” People actually said that to me, contradicting the understanding I had of each person’s preceding words and actions, making me feel crazy and abandonned. In disowning we abandon our whole selves and others who see what we don’t want them to.

People say that just because racism and classism is part of our culture doesn’t mean it’s part of them, but it is, whether you act on those beliefs or consciously (very consciously) try not to. I know because it’s part of me.

Racist ideas are supported by our environment, and believing them seems inevitable.  For much of my life I felt deep down that black people were dumber, a belief I must have gained over years of seeing black kids in lower level classes and reading groups.

One of my favorite authors, Edith Wharton, was a racist. Without effort I knew Wharton was simply following the ways of her time, and being a part of the society she lived in.

My greatest challenge in life has been really being a part of society, making friends, pursuing my dreams, while I hid so much of myself because I believed I was unacceptable: unattractive, unintelligent, human (farting,etc.), black and from a low-income family.

I’m still struggling with where I fit in a world that has so many beliefs that have hurt me and all people: black and white; rich and poor; young and old.

I used to think it was just black kids who were hurt, but then noticed I felt saddened when I looked at white kids, too. What our beliefs amount to is that our race, our parents’ income, where we go to school, matter more than who we are inside in making us loveable, successful and somebody important.

All of our actions speak, especially to kids who are learning about their world. For example, when they see their parents and other people around them almost always married to someone of the same race and income they learn that people’s lovableness is heavily determined by their race and income. It’s particularly hurtful for kids, like me, who have crushes on boys or girls of different races. I realized later that I had learned that white boys/men couldn’t love me. (And believed that I was an Uncle Tom for liking them.)

It’s been hard for me to see that I had those beliefs, and that they were wrong, considering so many people seem to be okay with them. I still feel defined by my race in America and in my head, and believe it’s a big part of me feeling like a broke loser sometimes.

I believe the messages we get from our environment about race and money are wholy responsible for America’s racial and socio-economic divisions and its culture of insecurity. That insecurity drives us to continually follow the crowd because we learn that what’s inside us is not enough to make us admirable and significant.

We could go our whole lives and miss the lesson the black maid tries to give the white little girl in the movie, “The Help:” I cried when I heard her say, “I am kind, I am smart, I am important,” for the little white girl to repeat.

That movie shows that even the little white girl, who happened to be fat, was hurt in a culture that put so much value on outside appearances.

Because I cried so much during that movie, I felt in my heart that times were not so different today, but I questioned myself. Things can’t be that bad, I thought. But I believe they can be just as bad on our psyches because we still put so much value on race and things other than our characters.

Martin Luther King knew what he was talking about when he talked about the need to value our characters, but we never really listened.

The fact that we don’t value people is showed by the disapproval people had and the shame I felt when I revealed things about myself on Facebook and in an email once. All I was doing was revealing things that would have been there whether I revealed them or not, and making myself feel a lot less afraid of seeming psycho, different and snobby.

Stereotypes fall away when we value the most powerful parts of ourselves, our characters. And security and confidence are inevitable.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

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