I am human.
I know this comes as no surprise to you, but it’s a fairly new realization to me. I have pools of insecurities that vary in depths. Some of them are so deep that sometimes, I struggle to keep my head above water. As it turns out, everyone has insecurities. It’s not just me!
One of my reccuring insecurities concerns my weight. It’s something I’ve always struggled with, though I linger between 110 and 115 most of the time. There. I said it and it didn’t even hurt that bad.
Skinny girls can’t be insecure?
I’ve avoided changing rooms during community theatre presentations. A solitary corner does just fine for me. Dinner with my average weight friends nerves me into silence. Even shopping for a swimsuit, I don’t try them on. Instead, I snatch the one I like and pay. If it doesn’t fit, I can always donate it to a thrift store. Last summer, I donned my first in-public bikini in years.
Why such insecurity? Doesn’t fit the stereotypical view of skinny girls, does it? There is a certain expectation of confidence that the world expects. Perhaps that’s why no one thinks twice about making snide comments. Or throw around accusations of anorexia. It’s not uncommon for a compliment tinged with insult. Skinny girls are fair game. “Skinny” goes so nicely with “bitch”. Even one of my best friends, after ordering a piece of chocolate cake coated with syrup and whipped topping said, “I’d rather be fat and happy than skinny and miserable.” Funny. I didn’t know I was miserable until then.
Yup! Skinny bitches are fair game. Those examples are just paper cuts in comparison to what men have said about my weight behind closed doors. Still think skinny girls can’t be insecure about their weight? Want to know what’s worse? I am horribly out of shape. Even as skinny as I am. Looks are deceiving. Yes, I have a flat stomach. Yes, I have well toned arms and legs. Sure, I can fold myself in half, but when a friend and I decided to try, “Just Dance” on the Wii, I thought I was going to die! After three songs. No lie.
I throw around 40 pounds of dog food like most throw their shirt into the laundry basket. But dancing? On the Wii? I hurt for three days.
Insecurities rose, not because anyone said anything, but because I didn’t fit the expectations of being skinny. But the truth is, I simply used different muscles. I had allowed my muscles to go stagnant by not varying my routine.
I am human, after all.
When my son was in first grade, he came running into the house after school. His eyes were lit with excitement as he said, “Guess what!? The brain is a muscle!” I think we forget that. The brain is a muscle and like other muscle groups, we forget to vary our routine to exercise the different parts. I discovered that I’ve let the analytical side of my brain go stagnant when I started my college algebra class.
I’ve always written, read, and sang like the articles tell me to do online. Also recommended are crossword puzzles, sudoku, and such. Eh, I think algebra will suffice. In the quest to exercise my brain, I took up painting. Which is fun because cavemen carved better stick figures on cave walls than I can manage. It’s been fun, and more challenging, that I expected. I wanted a certain look for the background and had to problem solve with water and a spoon. For a tree, I found forks made a unique effect. It’s not the same as editing a paragraph. I’m stretching my brain and seeing things different.
Now, that I’ve taken you on a tangent that doesn’t seem to have a point, let me conclude that insecurities are human. Apparently, every one has them, not just me. And so do your characters. They have insecurities, usually brought on by stagnant white mass between their ears. Sometimes, writing is about pulling them out of the deep pools of insecurities. Sometimes it’s about shoving them in. But they won’t be real until you make them human. Try this brain exercise…give your characters an insecurity that goes against stereotypes. A jock afraid of succeeding? A genius who prefers to hang out with the mentally disabled? A writer afraid of the pressures of actually publishing a book?
As I’ve evolved, most of my insecurities have become laughable and the pools have shrunk in size. I wear my bikini’s with pride, change in the designated dressing rooms, and eat an entire pizza in public. Especially after someone calls me a “skinny bitch”.