Insecurity Is Totally Normal

Kyle Smith

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Photo by Jonathan Cosens Photography on Unsplash

A few years ago, our family decided to get a dog. We discovered a sweet Australian shepherd named Madison at the local animal shelter. She had been abused by her former owner. As a result, she was terrified of men. It took several months before she would even let me pet her.

Madison has changed a lot over the last three years but she still needs constant affirmation. We could pet her for hours every day and it would still not fill her emotional tank. There’s a part of Madison that will always be needy and insecure.

The word insecure means “subject to fears, doubts, etc.; not self-confident or assured.”

You and I can easily fall into this emotional state if we’re not careful. As artists, part of us craves constant approval and affirmation. But we can take it too far if we are not emotionally healthy ourselves. As an artist who is constantly putting your work out there, you must be secure in your identity and self-worth.

If you want to be a more secure artist, it helps to recognize the following five signs of insecurity. These are useful for identifying and correcting unhealthy emotional patterns. It’s easy to see these patterns in others, yet completely miss them when it comes to our own hearts.

By the way, how do I know these five signs so well? Because I have been guilty of all of them at times. Maybe you have as well.

1. An insecure artist constantly finds fault with others. When my son Ben was in fourth grade, I had a conversation with him about school bullies. He asked why some kids pick on others. I explained that some people feel so badly about themselves that the only way they can feel better is to drag everyone else down with them. Sadly, some people keep doing this way past the fourth grade.

2. An insecure artist can’t accept constructive criticism. No one likes to be criticized, but the truth is that even the most stinging criticism can contain a kernel of truth. An insecure person is not mature enough to see the kernel of truth and learn from it. They can dish it out, but they can’t take it.

You can handle these problems by simply digging deep and doing the work. When you love the work--even the struggle--and create for yourself first, you won't have to worry about other people. Your focus has shifted. You won't worry too much about everyone else when you're fully immersed into the work you love. And notice I've said the work you love. You must love it. If you don't love it, you won't want to do it. You're really smart. Your brain knows when you are operating out of a place of love or fear. And you also bring a positive or negative energy to your work when you create from a positive or negative space.

Walt Disney, one of the most creative leaders in American history, identified a key to creating great art:

Somehow I can’t believe there are many heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secret of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C’s. They are Curiosity, Confidence, Courage, and Constancy, and the greatest of these is Confidence. When you believe a thing, believe it all over, implicitly and unquestioningly.

Questions for Reflections

1. As you look at this list, do any of these qualities describe you? Which ones?

2. Where do you think a sense of insecurity comes from?

3. Do you feel confident in your gifts and purpose?

4. Do you tend to see others as competitors or as collaborators?

5. Do you struggle with accepting constructive criticism from others? Why or why not?

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I write about writing, productivity, creativity, and much more.

St. Louis, MO
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