Though it seems to fade more by the week, day, hour, and sometimes minute, insecurity is something I've dealt with for a while.
There are certain coping mechanisms that I've found that have helped me to overcome my insecurity. These mechanisms are like little tools in my mental health toolbox, and they've help me get through my professional and social life just fine. In particular, there's one method that I use and have noticed myself using more as my confidence grows.
That method? Oversharing.
And I mean oversharing of all information – small stories, big stories, back stories, future stories. The idea is that I'll get everything I'm insecure about out in the open before anyone can discover what's really going on. I know a lot of women feel this way – it has to do with the idea that at any moment the curtain will lift, and everyone will discover what a fraud you are. So by oversharing, not only are you putting the other person at ease by having a conversation filled with self-depreciating anecdotes (surely a symptom of Good Girl Syndrome – see above) but you're also protecting yourself.
It's a total win-win.
I've known about my tendency to use oversharing as a method for battling insecurity for a while, and last week as I attended my first Alt Summit I found myself yet again employing these means of constant too much information-ing.
Even though almost everyone in attendance was was incredibly friendly, completely on the same page, and encouraging in a way that only a room full of supportive, creative women can be, I was still insecure. Us introverts tend to find things to worry about.
During the meeting and greeting and friendship-forming, what should be a simple question became a mental minefield for me with each person I met. The question that tripped me up the most: Where do you live?
The truth? The truth is that I live half in North Carolina, half in London in a complicated way that only expats in transition can fully understand. Case in point – I recently had a call with my U.S. phone carrier. When I explained to them that I'd soon return to London, they asked how long I'd be out of the country. After telling them that I didn't have an exact return date, hearing their confusion, then over explaining that right now I was in the U.S. but soon I'd be in London but then would be back hopefully sooner rather than later, I realized that my oversharing was hurting me rather than helping me. I was the crazy lady on the phone who talks so much that it sounds like she's just looking for someone to talk to.
I'm not that gal.
At Alt, where you're meeting someone each time you turn around, I found myself telling everyone I lived in "North Carolina" – air quotes and all – then explaining the entire story of the immigration process to sweet, confused Californians and Oregonians. (How easy it must be to just say "Portland" and smile.)
So instead? Instead, on the last day, I began telling everyone the truth – that I've been in living in London for about three years, and that my husband and I are in the process of moving to the States. Why was that so hard?
Oversharing is a protection mechanism. It puts me in control of situations which contributes to my new-found confidence. Still, I hope to get rid of my oversharing tendencies sooner rather than later. I'm aiming for honesty and simplicity in all areas of my life, including this one.
But until then, don't ask me any questions (even the simplest of ones) unless you want the real answer – self depreciation, air quotes, and all.