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Insecurities… we all have them. And if you try and say that you don’t, then you’re insecure about what people will think if they were to find out that you do have insecurities. Honestly, our fears over how people view us is really what most – if not all – of our biggest insecurity (or insecurities) is actually about.
Don’t believe me? Ok, then we’ll start with the textbook definition of the word.
What are Insecurities?
The Oxford dictionary states that insecurity is uncertainty or anxiety about oneself; lack of confidence. That said, wouldn’t you agree that most anxieties go hand-in-hand with fear? Most of us are scared all of the time about what people think or feel… what they might say.
But why? Were we born insecure? Were we conditioned to be so by our parents, or other influential people growing up? Did something happen in our formidable teen or young adult years to trigger these messy feelings that come at us like stray bullets from a gun?
Regardless of the source, we need to arm ourselves with emotional bullet proof vests to prevent these insecurities from hitting us hard or, worse yet, crippling us from wanting to live our best life or try new things.
In order to do that, we need to start by finding their source. This may be different for you than for me. So, let’s delve deeper.
Where Do Insecurities Come From?
According to WebMD, insecurities can stem from various sources. We’ve already touched upon some earlier, but they are worth repeating.
There is no one-size-fits-all reason for our insecurities. The most common culprits, however, are:
It’s important for you to take some time for self-examination and try to get to the root of your insecurities. Keeping a journal or diary is one way to do this. Also mindful meditation is another great tool.
If you are still having trouble coming up with the causes for your biggest insecurity, which likely leads to other insecurities, then you may want to try speaking to someone. Brainstorm with trusted family members, close friends or even a therapist.
The sooner you come up with the “why”, you’ll be able to come up with the “how” to kick these insecurities to the curb! And if you’re still wondering whether or not your feelings are truly insecurities, check out our list of the most common insecurities people have. You may just relate.
The 19 Most Common Insecurities People Have
Insecurities come in all shapes and sizes, much like people do. No matter how big or small, ignoring them will only magnify the problem and send you on a downward spiral towards self-loathing and socially crippling introversion.
Here’s our picks for the most common insecurities people have, broken into categories. Let’s start with the obvious winner….
1. I’m not as attractive as other people.
Let’s be honest. We all have at least one thing we don’t like about our physical appearance. Growing up, mine was my nose. I had my grandmother’s Italian “schnoz”, with a slight bump on the bridge.
The saddest part is that I would spend countless hours scouring tv shows, movies or magazine ads for pictures of famous women with imperfect noses. Julianne Moore was the closest I could find.
While you may feel you’re not as attractive as others, it’s also not entirely your fault that you believe this. Society places ridiculous amounts of pressure and importance on “outer beauty”. Contrary to what your mom told you about true beauty coming from within, how many supermodels or blockbuster action stars do you think have huge hearts?
Maybe it’s more than we think, maybe it’s none. Who ever knows?
So here’s my tip: stop comparing yourself to other people and work on your inner self. If you’re happy, you’re at peace… and if you’re at peace, you will smile. And that smile can light up a room, which is attractive in so many ways. Not to mention, beauty is subjective… and the very thing you may be insecure about may just be the one thing your future soulmate really digs.
2. I’m too fat.
This is top on the list for many women when asked what their biggest insecurity is. Not that some men don’t feel fat, but they do tend to mask it pretty well – usually with a grandiose sense of humor.
Similar to the #1 insecurity on our list, society places a ton of pressure on being thin… when it really should place the emphasis on “being fit” instead. Celebrities are always dieting and social media is always touting the next great miracle pill, powder or diet fad. What does this accomplish?
The answer is nothing.
What is important to keep in mind is that genetics come into play when it comes to our body shape. No matter how much weight I lose, for instance, my muscle tone and shape are still classified as curvy with a fuller bottom.
So here’s my tip: focus on getting into shape with a well balanced diet and exercise program, instead of wasting energy on wanting to simply be seen as thin. Doing so will improve your heart, lung, blood pressure and liver function… as well as your mental health.
You can take a lesson from the US school systems, who have consulted with nutritionists to consistently redesign lunch menus over the years to try and curb childhood obesity. Or the National Football League, who teamed up with the American Heart Association for Play 60, a program designed to keep kids active for at least 60 minutes per day.
3. My private parts don’t “measure up”.
Usually around the time puberty starts creeping up, kids start to become aware of variations in body part size. For young women, it’s all about bra size. For young men, it’s about that special “member” of their team and what they see while changing in the locker rooms.
And honestly, these feelings don’t really change as you get older. Even though you may be comfortable with what you were given to work with… if you belong to a gym or have ever heard your friends whispering crude things like, “look at the rack on that one”, you know it still matters to some degree. It shouldn’t, but it does.
So here’s my tip: shower at home instead of at the club, or stop and think before you speak about someone’s appearance. You never know how the person you’re targeting really feels about their own body and you need to focus on you. Being respectful and comfortable in your own skin is far more sexy than a big “tool”. After all, it’s how you use what you have that counts.
4. I am getting too old for this.
This hits us all at some point. The thought first crossed my mind when I was in my 30’s and trying to recover from a night out drinking as if I were still in my 20’s.
Then, it happened again in my early 40’s, when my body started aching doing the same activities I always had… like jogging or biking. Carrying a child on my shoulders. I’d be sore for days from doing seemingly nothing.
And then the mid-40s were upon me and the “fear” set in. First, it was FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)… wanting to do things with my kids that I’d never tried before, like snowboarding and ziplining. I couldn't stand the thought of sitting around while they had fun without me.
Then, it was a fear of getting hurt. As in, ending up on crutches or in an arm sling (both of which actually happened, btw). If I get hurt, who takes care of the kids?
Even though it sucked getting hurt, my kids thought I was amazing and brave. My youngest even wrote a poem about skiing with me. Today, all I remember about that trip are the laughs we shared… not the pain of a mildly dislocated shoulder or torn calf muscle.
So here’s my tip: say yes to everything at least once. Allow yourself to acknowledge your fears and all of the things that could go wrong… but only for a few minutes. Then simply take a deep breath and let them go.
More times than not, trying new things will result in memories over injury. You’re also only as old as you feel, so while you should always listen to your body’s cues… you also should not let it stop you from going for it (within your limits).
5. I don’t have many friends.
Now that I’m a mom of four, two of whom are in their pre-teen years, I find myself talking about friendships with them at least once a month. We discuss the importance of friendships that make you better as a person and help you grow… ones that are never judgmental or try and influence you to be someone you’re not.
Still, this isn’t an easy concept for younger kids… and some adults are even hung up on the desire for everyone to like them. But it’s just not possible.
In elementary school, I had five “best friends”. In high school, I had even more and was a varsity athlete and honor student. In college, most of those friends from my younger days started to slowly and quietly wash away like an ocean tide.
As I grew as a person, I developed new interests and ideals. I was on a mission of self-discovery and meeting new people was a part of that.
Today, my best friends are the people I met after getting engaged, married and having kids. These people are my “village” and we have similar things in common. I can count on one hand the people I still keep in contact with from the old days – in large part thanks to social media.
So here’s my tip: worry less about the quantity of friends you have and more about the quality of those friendships. As your lifestyle and personality changes, so will your friendships. Finding people to stand on common ground with will foster stability in your life and help you get to where you want to be. Once you’ve arrived, you’ll know it… and with you will be a small and loyal group of friends that have remained by your side.
6. I don’t get invited to enough events.
So again, FOMO may come into play here. Also, the desire to be popular and well-liked. But you should ask yourself, “what constitutes ENOUGH?”.
Personally speaking, I crave quiet weekends when we have zero going on… mostly because my husband and I are running around like crazy people, playing chauffeur to our kids 5-6 days per week. It’s a double-edged sword wanting your kids to be active and involved.
But if you’re single and without kids, you may wonder if you should be getting more invites to parties, nightclubs, happy hours, shows, etc. You may also start to question if your friends are doing things without you? Then you start questioning yourself and what you may have done wrong. It’s a vicious cycle.
So here’s my tip: ask yourself what you really want your social life to look like. Do you want to be going out every night of the week? Or do you want some downtime? Next, take the initiative to do some of the inviting and don’t be afraid to turn down invitations that don’t suit you.
7. I don’t have enough followers or “likes” on social media.
Ah, social media. It’s both a blessing and a curse. And now we’re on the verge of really diving into the vast and murky waters of Open AI with ChatGPT. Soon, people will be asking their computers, phones and Alexa if they are smart or pretty enough… and she/he/they/them will answer.
But for the moment, Facebook and Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and Twitter have the lion’s share of our attention. People are constantly on their phones hitting “like” over some random post that, for whatever reason, makes us feel amazing! As if we’ve just written the next great novel.
Or we get “follow requests” from people we don’t know, and suddenly feel special as if we’ve been crowned prom king or queen. Uugh, would you even want to go back to high school?
I am here to tell you that this all means nothing in the grand scheme of things. Social media is only as powerful as the sheep that follow it.
So here’s my tip: take a break from social media. This can be for a week, or a month. Maybe longer? Use this time to re-connect with people in the real world and practice slow living. Appreciate those in your life that matter and are physically and emotionally present to support you every single day.
8. I dress like I’m poor.
As a gal who likes a good bargain, I’m not sure why this is even a thing… but it is. In fact, it’s the biggest insecurity of my good friend. She is married without kids and will spend the majority of her paycheck every month upgrading her wardrobe.
She continuously searches online for the latest trends and, with the click of a button, voila! New outfits and accessories appear at her house within a day or two. Truth be told, her financial picture isn’t the best and her salary could be put to better use (like paying down debt), but she lives in a place where women “dress to the nines” just to pick up their kids from preschool or go food shopping.
Can you relate? Do you feel you’re consistently trying to keep up with the Joneses? If so, it’s time to hit pause.
So here’s my tip: dress the way you want to feel, not the way you want to look. There is a difference. If you want to feel happy or sexy, dress in something that fosters that, such as your favorite color top or pair of shoes.
If you feel happy, you’ll look like a million bucks because the way you carry yourself will exude that… for which there is no price tag.
Bonus tip: you also don’t have to spend a fortune to look good. Celebrities sell their fashion lines at big box and bargain stores now, so always keep an eye out for sales and bargains.
Despite what you think, nobody looks at you and wonder’s “who are you wearing?”. And there’s also a good chance that these people who are trying so hard to impress are lacking something inside themselves that they are compensating for.
9. I don’t make enough money.
Some jobs pay better than others. It’s just a fact. And the world is ever-changing on that front.
It used to be that a four-year college degree insured you a good salary. Today, you need a Masters or Doctorate to make the big bucks in certain fields. And then there are trade schools, making a serious play for competitive salaries.
Electricians, plumbers, computer technicians and auto mechanics… we can’t live without these people who have a very specific set of skills that most of us just don't possess.
The problem is this: what we need money for and what we want money for has become a blurred line that is all too easily crossed.
So here’s my tip: make two lists. One should have the things you need and the other the things you want. The first list should include things like a place to live and food on the table. The second should have things like a fancy car or exotic vacation. Doing this will help you prioritize what really matters.
If you have all of the things on the first list, then you make enough money.
10. Not many people will miss me when I’m gone.
At a certain age, people start to think about their mortality. They wonder if they’ve done enough good or influenced enough people to be missed when they die.
Perhaps they are overthinking things, or suffer from bouts of depression, where they feel alone at times… as if nobody cares. The thing is, someone always cares.
So here’s my tip: live your life in the present. Every moment spent worrying is a moment spent not really living. Sure, it’s natural to ask these questions; but, if you obsess on them you’re missing out on what’s right in front of you. And if you take the time to look, there are people who love, support and depend on you.
11. I am not smart.
My mom used to say there were two kinds of smart… “book smart” and “street smart”. If you’ve ever watched the game show Jeopardy, you have likely heard a contestant or two credit their love of reading to their success.
Then there are the sect of people that never went to college, but had a drive to succeed and a good idea. Who would have thought that Steve Jobs or Bill Gates never graduated from university?
So here’s my tip: ask yourself why you think you’re not smart? Then examine why it is that you want to be smart… or perhaps smarter, in this case.Is it to engage in more meaningful conversation, advance in your career, or impress someone?
The bottom line is that we all have the ability to become more knowledgeable. You just need to believe in yourself. Life is all about learning and experiencing things. Reading, taking classes and trying new hobbies are great ways to increase your intelligence. Just make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.
12. I will never get into that college.
This is the biggest insecurity for many high school seniors. It is a year of tremendous pressure for students that want to make their parents proud or have a better life.
Often, where they want to go to college primarily has to do with familial ties or friends and significant others. And these shouldn’t be the driving factor. It should be based on what you want to study, activities that interest you, finances and location.
So here’s my tip: ask yourself why you want to go there? Then determine whether or not the college has everything you want to get from the experience. Next, ask yourself if you meet the requirements to get in. Finally, believe that you can.
It’s also never a bad idea to have fall back options, as well as sit down with your guidance counselor to discuss your chances of getting in. Reason sometimes comes into play more than desire when making these kinds of choices.
13. I will never get a promotion.
Promotions aren’t just handed out like hors d'oeuvres at a party. You need to work hard and, sometimes, know the right people in order to get ahead.
It’s also important to believe in yourself and your ability to move up the corporate ladder. If you exude self-doubt or lack confidence, it’s a red flag for employers. It’s also a good idea to socialize with your colleagues now and again, so that they know you’re a committed part of the team.
So here’s my tip: start by eliminating the negative self-talk. We are often our own worst enemy when it comes to putting walls up in pursuit of our dreams. Next, educate yourself on what’s needed to get the particular promotion you seek (ie… continuing education, a hobby that makes you more interesting, working longer hours, taking initiative). Finally, do engage with the higher ups and let them know you’re committed to the company long-term.
14. People are talking behind my back.
I used to be guilty of this one. For a while, every time I walked into a room filled with journalists or attended a PTO meeting, I’d see people glance at me and then continue chatting… assuming they were making snide comments or remarks about me.
The imaginary conversations those people had about me were epic! They’d say things like, “the newspaper she writes for is a joke” or “how’d she get in here?”. That or they’d comment on my outfit selection or my hair. My briefcase even.
But here’s the key… these jibes were all in my head. I heard literally nothing, yet chose to assume the worst. Maybe you’re done the same? Only you wondered if they were commenting on your choice of date for the evening or your pension for bright red lipstick.
It doesn’t matter because, whatever it was, it wasn’t real because it wasn’t said directly to you. Why worry about something until it’s tangible?
So here’s my tip: stop caring what people might think. Conversely, assume they are not talking about you at all. Choose to see the best in people and save the overactive imagination for your blog, or bedtime stories with your kids.
15. My partner isn’t attracted to me anymore.
Been there, done that! I’ve had four c-sections and, despite my best intentions with diet and exercise, the kangaroo pouch is here to stay… barring a visit to a plastic surgeon. Add to that a few gray hairs that just won’t go away and crows feet from a lack of sleep, there were days when I would look in the mirror and think, “why is he still here?”.
Men age more gracefully than women. Just one more hit ladies take for the team. A man with wrinkles and grays in his beard is considered sexy (hello, Indiana Jones), whereas a woman with a few signs of aging is seen as “letting herself go”.
Still, this biggest insecurity isn’t one reserved strictly for women. In fact, because of the pressure society puts on women to take better care of themselves with things like yoga, exercise, diet, pedicures and expensive waxing… some women are looking better than ever in their 50’s.
This means that the men who got comfortable are starting to wonder if their wives aren’t attracted to them anymore. Why else is it that you see more men at spas, salons and pilates class these days?
So here’s my tip: always strive to be your best self. The minute you stop caring about the way you look, you’re sending a message to your partner that you are complacent. And complacency leads to ruts and boredom, which often leads to bigger problems.
This is not about putting an emphasis on looks, but rather self-care and confidence. A partner who believes they are attractive is very sexy, especially when you know that you’re the one they have chosen to be with.
16. My partner is cheating, or at least thinking about it.
This is a biggie. If you are married or in a committed relationship, this thought has likely crossed your mind at least once or twice, especially if you’ve been stressed or going through a rough patch.
The thing about marriage is that it takes work. Whenever I hear couples recite the words, “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health” during their wedding vows… I consider it more of a foreshadowing than a “what if”.
Call me a buzzkill, but I’ve been married long enough to know that while you shouldn’t expect the worst, you need to be realistic. Marriage should be about marrying a person who will battle in the trenches with you during the bad times and not bail the minute things get hard or scary.
Truth be told, things happen all of the time and some are more significant than others. If you shut each other out, be it emotionally or physically, you’ll make them feel they aren’t needed. And once that happens, the idea of going off with someone who does need them starts to become a tempting offer.
So here’s my idea: do you part in making your partner feel needed and wanted. It’s not a coincidence that the word “part” can be found in partner. You need to stay emotionally connected with them… and open communication is key.
You also need to be physical with them, even if you're not always feeling up to it. If you let everyday stressors get in the way of your marriage, it will create a divide that could fracture the relationship for good.
17. I can’t do any better.
This appears to be the mantra of people with low self-esteem or victims of abuse in relationships. People like these are often conditioned to consider themselves lucky to have someone… rather than the other way around.
So no matter how narcissistic or disconnected their partner is, people with this insecurity will stay in the relationship for fear of being alone as the alternative. They don’t think they deserve better and will just stay put as a result, no matter how miserable they are.
So here’s my tip: start reciting daily mantras and convince yourself that there is someone out there who will love and respect you the way you deserve. Start speaking up for yourself if it’s safe to do so and plan an escape. If this isn’t enough, seeking a counselor may be necessary.
18. I’ll never find “the one”.
You’re starting to feel like you can write a book about all of the bad first dates you’ve been on or the times you were duped into thinking a relationship was headed somewhere… only to have the rug pulled out from under you. You’re not alone.
Breakups suck and so does being alone, especially when you’re at a point in your life when you’re ready to settle down.
After all, time and biological clocks are ticking! That said, rushing into a relationship because you desperately want the fairytale ending can be detrimental and cause more pain in the long run.
There are few things worse than going through a messy divorce, feeling like you’ve wasted years of your life on the wrong person. Now imagine adding kids to the mix. If you thought finding the one was hard before, try it with kids in tow.
So here’s my tip: be patient. Stay true to who you are and what you want from a relationship. Become comfortable with being alone and engage in activities and hobbies that make you happy. Oftentimes, when you least expect it, that is when true love enters.
19. He or she is out of my league.
You never know what’s going on inside a person’s mind. You may think you do, and love to make assumptions… but people mask their true feelings well. We’ve become masters of disguise in a jaded world, which has caused a real disconnect among people.
If you look at a person you’re attracted to and think they are “out of my league”, is it because of how they look or how they behave? Maybe it’s both? Maybe they carry themselves in such a way that you’re like a moth to a flame.
You may be surprised then to hear that many of your insecurities usually come from a damaged psyche and decreased feelings of self worth. The person you think is out of your league may be perfect for you, but your stubbornness and inability to believe so are placing he or she on a different shelf – just outside your reach.
So here’s my tip: tell yourself that you are out of their league. Better yet, convince yourself that there is no such thing as a league when it comes to love. Love is two people coming together to enrich each other’s life. It doesn’t matter where you come from, because in the end you belong together. Show your true colors always and people will see you for exactly who you are.
Final Thoughts on Our Biggest Insecurities
Whatever your biggest insecurity is, it’s important to remember that we all have them. It doesn’t make you weak, sad or weird. It makes you human. And being human is what allows us to feel and experience life in a way that only we can.
Humanity is what sets us apart from animals. While they may feel a sense of nurture, they aren’t able to feel real love, passion and heartache. They are designed to serve a purpose, whereas we are designed to want to experience moments.
We all deserve special moments and shouldn’t let insecurities stand in the way. Life throws enough curveballs without us stepping up to the plate. Definitely check out our article on 11 Ways to Stop Being Insecure & Build Self-Esteem for more tips on getting out of your own way and finally finding the happiness you crave.
And if you're looking for more resources on self confidence and self esteem, be sure to check out these blog posts:
- 11 Self-Confidence Boosting Activities for Students
- 9 Signs You’re Socially Inept & How to Stop Being This Way
- 19 Self-Confidence Building Exercises Every Person Should Try
Nicole Krause has been writing both personally and professionally for over 20 years. She holds a dual B.A. in English and Film Studies. Her work has appeared in some of the country’s top publications, major news outlets, online publications and blogs. As a happily married (and extremely busy) mother of four… her articles primarily focus on parenting, marriage, family, finance, organization and product reviews.