Happy days! I have had lots going on behind the scenes over here the past few months. As I navigate my new direction and the new opportunities I’m seeking, it’s been a bit of a balancing act. I have many more updates to come, but I’d like to begin with this one: the video of my talk at Creative Mornings’ Amsterdam chapter in June!
Together with two other speakers, Stephanie Tan and Sadie DeMaioribus, I dove into the topic of insecurity. It’s a topic that is near and dear to my heart, so it was a joy to be able to speak about it. Many thanks again to the Creative Mornings Amsterdam team!
Check the video out below. I have also included the full transcript of my talk, so feel free to make use of any quotes that you’d like to have. I hope you’ll enjoy it and I would love to hear your thoughts, either in the comments, on social media or via email.
Today I want to talk to you about insecurity actually as a means of connection and of creating community.
I feel like insecurities get a really bad rap. We see them as these fallacies and these deep character flaws that we need to work on. We need to get rid of them. We need to love them out of our systems completely and let them go.
I disagree with that. Deeply.
As humans, I feel like we have this incessant obsession with security. We need to feel secure about ourselves, our jobs, our every single choice in life. We need to be secure all the time.
But at the end of the day, I think that we all find that it isn’t realistic.
Two years ago I found myself in a pretty weird phase in my life. After studying law for years I decided that a legal career was actually not for me, so I quit law school and I started working full time to save up my money to go on an extended trip I had been dreaming of for a long time. And on that trip, I told myself that I was going to figure out what I was going to do.
If not law, then what?
What was my big plan for future security in my life?
I didn’t really know what I was going to do with that, all I knew was that I wanted something that was more aligned with my creative interests.
As preparation for that, I started attending creative events here in Amsterdam. I had this hope that they would guide me somewhere and that they would show me a little more of what I should be doing rather than just what I shouldn’t.
The events were incredibly inspiring, as we see now as well, but I couldn’t help but feel like I didn’t fit in. I felt that somehow my lack of any formal creative experience or education made me a fraud. And I created this very intense internal judgment zone for myself.
And then I made two connections at Creative Mornings. I had two conversations in which I just said: ‘you know what, sometimes I have no idea what I’m doing, and at this moment especially, I have no idea where I’m going to go.’ And they said that they felt the same way sometimes. And for the first moment, I thought ‘oh, so I do deserve to be here. I’m not the only person in this room that feels that way.’ It was really reassuring.
For the first time in a long time, I felt the rumblings of something that was headed in the right direction. And I wasn’t sure what it was or what it would turn into, but it was something.
I noticed that in the months after that, I kind of unknowingly applied that same communication to my personal life. I remember later that summer, a friend took a photo of me that I was deeply insecure about – it was about a part of my body. And I shared it. But instead of coming up with some cool, quippy caption, I just shared:
‘Hey, this is a photo I’m really insecure about.’
And I got DMs from people. And we had these private – always private – but very meaningful conversations. I kind of continued to apply that as I prepared for my travels, as I went through my travels, and even now that I’ve returned, and the connections just kept coming.
It’s those connections for me that have turned this concept of insecurity on its head. Where rather than seeing insecurity as just this negative thing I used to see it as I can see that it has positive potential as well.
Today, two years later, I feel like we are definitely in a space where we are seeing the importance of open communication and conversation. We see that conversation is creating connections and it is also healing collective traumas.
I think there is no better time to start practicing that speaking up and talking about our insecurities. Or maybe not even about them, but at least in spite of them. I feel that in talking about the things that make us insecure, the things that scare us, we create those connections and we create that healing for ourselves, but also for others.
I’m not saying you need to reveal your deepest darkest secrets, but what about the smaller things? What about the things that scare you, that hold you back, that are actionable? Like maybe your fear is going to a yoga class but you’re afraid of being the only new one in the room. How about talking about it? Maybe your fear is bigger. It’s something you’re missing in your job or in your relationship. Well, guess what? You’re not the only one. I have those too. Everyone here has those too. And maybe if we talk about them, we can take away a lot of that power that they hold over us.
When I was considering applying for this talk – I’ll leave you with one last little anecdote – I actually almost didn’t apply. I had this little grubby note in my room for weeks – it says ‘Apply to Creative Mornings”- and I almost didn’t do it. Because I felt that I didn’t deserve to be in the room. And here we are. So, think about that.
Think about what me being here today means for me, but think about what it can mean for you as well. What are the things that you deserve to do that you are holding yourself back from?
In my video pitch to Creative Mornings, I surprised myself with a little tidbit. I said:
“Insecurities are only connectors if we speak them out. If we give them the space to breathe and exist. If we talk about them and breathe air into their lungs, our insecurities can breed gifts.”
And I really, really believe that that’s true.
So my request is pretty simple. I want us all to leave here today and think about these insecurities in our lives that we’re tying this shame to. And think about how we can get rid of some of that shame. Shame does not grow you, it does not help you. So let that go. And then think about who you can talk to about your insecurities, through what medium. And see what gifts it brings.
I for one am always here, so you know, DM me. Let’s have the conversations, let’s talk about it.
It starts with one initial spark of courage and after that, believe me, it will flow.
It sounds like what you’re saying is that being vulnerable (i.e. sharing your insecurities) helps create connections. Does that resonate with you? I see a connection between insecurity and vulnerability and I’m curious if you feel the same!
Definitely. I think that vulnerability is the starting point for most every meaningful connection. I am a big proponent of being vulnerable. And I recognize that there are certain limits. Like I said, there are deep dark secrets that you’re not ready to share or that you don’t need to share. But I think that sharing the things that are a bit more shareable and that you do feel vulnerable about, can give you a lot in return. So insecurity and vulnerability – for me – are definitely interlinked. And valuable.
If you arrive at a junction in your life where you really don’t know how to pay the rent or pay for food, is it possible then to embrace your insecurities at that point?
I think that that’s a great question, it’s something that I – so I don’t think that sharing your insecurities will solve every problem, right? There are certain basic things in life that we need and work is one of them. So will sharing necessarily put money in your bank account so you do have housing? No. But I do think that even in a situation like that, even if you’re in this really difficult situation that you don’t know how to get out of, I find that if you share that, you will find people who are at least willing to help. And it can also be very insecure and very vulnerable to receive help. Receiving help is hard. But if you open yourself up to the sharing but also the receiving, I think that it can help in that way. Definitely.
How do you know if a space is safe to share insecurities?:
Yea, that’s a tough one as well. I’ve definitely found myself in situations where I see that: ‘this is not a space for it.’ I think that at the end of the day it comes down to gut feeling. I think that you know when it is safe. You will know based on the people that you’re interacting with, whether these are the people that you should be talking to. So I would say: always, always follow your gut. That’s the best way to go about it.