28, and insecure.

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

Today, March 19, I turn 28, and while much of the world has changed, and so I have I, one thing had (or has) remained constant: my insecurities.

While it wasn’t clear to me what my insecurities where while I was growing up, they have become more evident to me and I was able to identify them in the past years, probably because the pandemic has actually given me bigger space to contemplate on them.

I was always envious of boys (and girls) who were more conventionally attractive than I was, and also those who manifested greater capabilities than I did. I wasn’t able to see it then, but I realized just some years ago that I’ve developed a habit of looking at other people than myself.

That habit still haunts me until this day that I unhealthily try to fight it with validation. I always sought validation from other people instead from myself, from childhood until I was on social media.

While I’ve toned down my posts on social media, I made sure that I always posted my wins—no matter how small they were. Passing exams, high marks on essays, and other minuscule things I succeed in, I post them so I can get the usual Facebook reactions and congratulatory messages.

The heart and “haha” reactions always gave me encouraging feelings, and the like reactions just gave me the feeling of passivity like a “noted” reply via email.

But even these validation reactions and messages on social media give me a limited and fleeting feeling of euphoria, and then I find another thing I can pull something fun from and seek validation, and then the cycle continues.

I actually know that it was unhealthy, but I’m at a point where I don’t know where to pull validation from myself, and when I do try, these attempts fail and I find myself just actually munching on food and gaining weight.

This feeling of insecurity has reigned over my life and is everywhere I go—whether it be at school, at work, or even just hanging out with people.

No matter how hard I try, and no matter how far I know I’ve come, the feeling still haunts me and I still feel like I’m trapped in a hole that I’m never going to get out of.

Even as I have time to rest, my mind is still clouded by the dark feeling that I will never be on a greater or even just the same level as my peers, whether it be in school, in work, or other parts of my life.

I try to smile every day, and people tell me I look better when I smile, but my insecurity overcomes me and I just get a weight bearing on my back which I haven’t been able to get off of, since time immemorial.

This ultimately prevents me from trying new things, because while I enjoy doing new things at the first instance, I’m not able to finish and even if I do, I can’t enjoy the fruits of it.

This has also clouded my judgment on how I interact with my family. I feel like I’m the worst family member and I don’t have any contributions to my family and our household.

If anything, today’s column is more of a cry for help. I’m growing old and I want to be able to enjoy my life, but I still can’t if I’m still being overruled by my own insecurities and the feeling that I’m not able to control it.

For whatever it’s worth though, happy birthday to me, and happy birthday to the remaining strength that has kept me (self-shockingly) alive.