Sucker4Love B Sides: I'm Insecure, and That's Ok!
We gotta give ourselves more space to not feel ok, and then we gotta process that.
Sometimes I wish I could be more honest, like real honest. The type of honesty where I tell you something about myself and it makes me completely vulnerable. But then I think about how my friends would perceive me, not casual friends. I’m talking about the men in my life who I believe to be my brothers. The ones with who I have built a friendship that transcends distance. The type of friends you can not hear from for weeks, but when y’all reconnect, it’s all love. Those people, would they look at me differently, would it change things?
I’m wondering if they ever look in the mirror and don’t like what they see, if they ever feel ugly, or wonder if they’re enough. I do. It’s something that I have always felt about myself, at varying parts of my life I haven’t felt good about my physical appearance, my intellect, or even how worthy I am to share space with certain people. Some periods it was really bad, so overwhelming that I wished I could be someone else, and when the realization hit that all I had was me, I would fall down a dark rabbit hole of trying to prove to everyone, and no one at all, that I deserved love. I feel a lot better about myself today, actually, I would say this is the best I have ever felt about Stanley as a whole. But I still have moments, sometimes, more than I would like to share where.
Why can’t that shirt fit me the way it does Michael B. Jordan (he has a physical trainer and a responsible diet, but fuck that)? Why can’t my beard be fuller? Why does my voice sound so bad? When these thoughts creep into my head, I try to find constructive ways to address it. The ability to cut through the insecurities and the depression and hurt has literally saved my life. But it’s something I had to figure out on my own. I shouldn’t have had to, but I did, because the only thing worse than feeling like you were fat, or ugly, not good enough, or needed help with something you didn’t understand, was making yourself look weak by being vulnerable, or reaching out for help.
Men aren’t supposed to feel insecure, all we can do is fuck, fight, and figure shit out. No one has ever outright told me that, but the entire world let me know. Whether it was my father who beat me when I was five years old because I cried when he had to go to work or my stepmother who laughed at me when at 13 I asked her if I was ugly. Sometimes it was the images of men I saw on TV. Mostly white, always brooding, never sad, never sullen. If something was wrong, they resorted to sex, violence, or alcohol. So if every image of manhood I ever saw refused to show any weakness, or vulnerability why should I?
Eventually, I got to a point where I had to come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t like “every other man” maybe something was wrong with me, but I hurt, a lot, and sometimes I want to cry, sometimes I don’t feel like my best self, sometimes I need to talk about that, mostly I wrote about it and hid the evidence in the deepest corners of my journal. But that’s not the way things should or had to be, it shouldn’t have to be like that for anyone. The truth is, we have been brought up in a world that just won’t let us experience everything that life has to offer. And while no one wants to feel insecure about something, they should be given the space to unpack those feelings and get the support they need to get through it.
So let’s get back to me. At least for a bit. I have spent a large chunk of my life thinking that I had to be a certain kind of person, that person was an amalgamation of everything that I had experienced. I had to have the brash confidence of Zach Morris from Saved by the Bell, the looks of Denzel Washington, the money of Jay-Z, and the experience of all of the men I saw in my world. The more I tried to replicate being other people, the harder I failed, and the more I hated myself for it.
I eventually figured out that there was nothing wrong with me for having these very normal feelings. But it wasn’t because anyone told me, or from any magical breakthrough, I was just forced to watch men that I knew or knew of crumble from the struggles of trying to act like everything was ok. I saw men and boys try to put on an act that I could see right through because I used to do the same thing, I also knew that many of them would not find the release or freedom that I had found, and it wasn’t because they weren’t smart enough, or open enough, it was because the environment for them to unpack masculinity, and realize how this silly idea is killing us, didn’t exist.
I started this piece off by mentioning some of my closest guy friends, and how I imagine they would react if I opened up to them about some of the things that run through my mind. I still don’t know how my friends would respond if I opened up to them like this, I like to believe that they would be supportive, and understanding, they might even decide to open up to me. Because the truth is, we’re all dealing with a lot of stuff, and trying to hide it away with violence, alcohol, and indifference won’t get to the root issue.
So, in the spirit of loving myself, and wanting to be a better man, and in honor of the men I call my brothers, I pledge to be more open, talk about my feelings, ask them about theirs, and look for ways to uplift and hold space for them. I’ll do that because we’re all trying to figure this thing called life out, and in one way or another, we have insecurities, and it should be safe to unpack those.