Dear insecurities

A letter to my familiar friend


Graphic by Jisha Rajala

Insecurities are the strings that play around with every move I make.

Jisha Rajala

Dear Insecurities, 

In the 15 years I have been on this earth, I have learned one thing — you are the perfect example of unlimited. From getting every problem wrong on a physics practice test to failing at putting my backpack on without messing up my hair, you are everywhere. Oh, and my gaze in the mirror — that’s a gold mine. 

In high school, you make college applications, AP classes and, of course, extracurriculars an unbearable burden. Everywhere I go, people are doing four, eight, maybe even 20 clubs, leaving me with an unsettling feeling of not belonging. 

Am I doing enough?

And when something I thought was practically unreachable finally becomes a reality, it never seems to satisfy me. These goals I create for myself keep changing; as soon as I accomplish one, there is always another that takes its place. And throughout this struggle to satisfy you, society and everyone, really, my happiness is waiting at the end of the path — but it always seems to be just out of reach. 

Nevertheless, I bear your weight so that I can get into Stanford, then pursue a Master’s Degree and Ph.D (at Stanford, of course), followed by getting a high-paying job, and…then what?

At every step of the way, my happiness always seems to be sacrificed. Despite my accomplishments, you still have the key to reside in my head, permeate the depths of my thoughts and extract the serotonin, forcing me to do something else for the sake of my pride and exhibit my competence to the world. 

I guess you want me to be the better version of everyone. I accomplish one thing successfully, but there is always someone who does it better.

A 100% on a math test? Well, someone got 105%. And that’s when you swing into action. 

There are 7.753 billion people in the world, so how can I possibly be better than all of them? 1,850 of them are in this school alone. 1,850. 

But there is only one of me. And this comparison of being better than myself is something that I can actually do. Of course, I’ll continue to compare myself to my classmates, friends and even Albert Einstein — and then get roasted. 

Graphic by Jisha Rajala

But if I start striving to be better than myself, will you be gone? You make me insecure about myself, and you will probably trail behind me throughout my life like an unwanted friend.

Are you just unavoidable? No matter what I do, I fail to stay true to myself, because you branch out to bring back peer pressure. Copying people doesn’t make me better. It doesn’t even make me, me. 

The person who got a 105% on a math test just makes me feel dejected about the 100% that I always wanted. As I aim instead for a 105%, I don’t do it for myself, but rather just to beat the other person. 

But if I start comparing myself to myself, I will grow, even if it’s not as fast as I wanted. And even through this competition, you will step in my way, urging me to change my view. But why do I care about the speed of my growth, whether I am meeting up with the standards set up by my friends, classmates, family or society? 

So let me take a step back. Change my path to my own. You will bring a boulder my way, but I will push. I will push through the countless sleepless nights of discontent you bring my way. I will push through the urge to compare myself with others. And I will push through you, because now, I have the key. 

No Thanks, 

Jisha Rajala