I think it may be cultural, but I don’t know that I had room to feel insecure growing up. From a very young age, many girls were taught to be tough, don’t cry in public, have a stiff upper lip and/or don’t show weakness. It is funny to hear people talk about this idea as it relates to boys. While I know boys and men get it more than girls and women, we all have to put on an armor when we get up every day before we leave the house every day. Sometimes, we have to wear that armor at home.
Life is a paradox.
You want to be vulnerable, but too open and the weight of your life and the world around you can cause you to crumble. So, at a young age I was told directly and indirectly not to let people get under your skin.
The only issue is I couldn’t help it. As a result, I put a layer that is impenetrable over my proverbial soft skin. My armor came in the form of militant response to people I didn’t know. My armor is perfection. My armor is staying quiet when I need to speak up. My armor is being nice in hopes I won’t be seen. My armor is putting close friends through a never-ending test to see if they are in fact for me.
My armor is covering up a little girl who did not feel good enough as a kid. She wanted to be liked or the very least left alone, so she needed a way to not be knocked down and instead of addressing her vulnerabilities, she let her insecurities go unchecked and her confidence erode.
I was 24 years old and dating a guy who we will call Jerald. Jerald was a cop and I adored him. I didn’t even know him long enough to adore him, but I did. I thought he was funny, smart…and he was so into me. He must have been a catch. We hung out all of the time. We would go out on dates. I met his parents and then one day after I was intimate with him he called me and left a message that at the time I thought broke me.
The news caused me to go in the lunch room at my job on Park Ave in New York and scream at the top of my lungs. It was totally unprofesh and I was so devastated. I shared something so real with this cat and he told me something I could not seem to get my head around.
I’ll share what the news was next time, but one thing I can share about the ongoing experience that is life is you’ll never get it totally right. The “totally right” you are reaching for and clinging to is a perfectionism that is hiding a lack of confidence. The most confident people I’ve ever known were upfront about their crap. They knew their shortcoming and weaknesses and apologized when they showed up but did not make a thing of it.
I’ll never have it all together, but I wish I could go back to 24-year-old Ebonni and tell her to breathe. This is one of many experiences you’ll look back on and laugh from a good healthy place to say, “Welp! That escalated quickly and died an awful death.”
Stay tuned. The news from Jerald led to something else that changed how I saw dating forever.