Being Insecure

I am insecure. Maybe not as much as many people I know, but I have my hangups. Mostly, they're about my physical appearance. It's always been that way.

Some of my earliest memories are of old ladies fawning over my strawberry blond hair, "You have the prettiest hair!" No boy who is called "Carrot Top" in school wants to be told his hair is pretty. Now, with thinning auburn hair (especially in the middle of my forehead, like a reverse Eddie Munster--who HAS that?), I would kill for that pretty hair.

I was usually one of the tallest kids in my class. My voice cracked long before my classmates. I hated the sound of my voice. I still do. I grew to my current average height by the age of 13. I used to slouch to get to the same level as my friends. Now I suck in my gut and try to be as ramrod straight as possible.

Speaking of my gut, I don't have much of one, but it's big enough for me to think about sucking it in. I have written extensively about my weight loss more than 5 years ago. I didn't mention how often people noticed how much weight I had lost. I walked into my old barber shop, and the cashier remarked how thin I was. And then she whispered, "Are you still healthy?"

When I really wanted to get healthy--body, mind, and soul--I started going to the gym. I've mentioned that before. But I don't usually mention that I gained most of my weight back. At first, I would attribute it to muscle gain. And there may be some truth to that. I got much stronger. But I was also hungry. And I ate a lot. Now I don't eat as much, and I go to the gym every day. But I also go to physical therapy every week, and instead of being able to do 200+lb flys, I'm lucky if I can do 100 now. I'm insecure about my age.

My age is most evident in my teeth. I have porous teeth. I have had multiple root canals. Most of my back teeth are filled. I've been jealous of bright white porcelain veneers on the smiles of celebrities. Yeah, I remember Tom Cruise circa "All the Right Moves." But I will probably never spend thousands on my too-beige smile.

And yet, somehow, I still smile. I somehow push aside my insecurity about my teeth, because I have to, to live fully. To live fully, I need to smile and laugh easily. It's just a higher priority than hiding my incisors. I started up a podcast, even though I knew I would have to hear my voice over and over and over again, preserved for posterity.

When I go to the gym, I wear my old size Medium shirts when I should wear Large. Maybe it's aspirational. But I also actually think about how I need to expose myself to embarrassment on a regular basis. That I won't actually die of embarrassment when I'm hoisting kettlebells as my shirt creeps over my not-so-enormous belly. Somewhere along the way, I realized that my insecurities aren't leaving, that people don't actually see them inside me (even if they see what I see, which they may not), and everyday life isn't going to wait around for me to deal with them. So I might as well get over it, and just focus on something more important.