I have spent the majority of my life feverishly covering up the fact that I am not a perfect person. And you know what the terrible irony is? The fact that I am imperfect is completely obvious to everybody out there.
You don’t even have to meet me face to face to see that I am an insecure, imperfect person with lots of issues. I’m sure you can feel it right here on the blog in my writing. It’s everywhere. That’s the problem with insecurity. The more we try to cover it up, the more obvious it becomes.
As a child, I always felt like the runt in my family. I was the youngest of three, and I was painfully stubborn. I was always fighting for attention, which made me not think things through before I spoke or acted, and as a willful, flighty 8 or 9 year old I contracted this nickname, “Erin-head,” because I would say incredibly dumb things (get it – airhead/Erin-head. Clever, I know).
Even though it faded away by junior high, that nickname has stuck with me all of my life.
I can’t tell you how many times I make a mistake or drop something in the kitchen or say something less than intelligent and that nickname crawls up into my stomach like a vulture, just waiting to prey on my lifeless self-esteem. It’s always been there. And I don’t know how long it’s going to stay. That nickname has made me a very reserved and fearful person. Most of the time, I am afraid. I am afraid that I will not have it all together in front of other people, and that I won’t seem smart. So I strive to look and act and feel perfect, because if I’m perfect then I will be loved.
And you know what all of this terrible striving does? The opposite. The more I try to look smart, the more I seem unwise. The more confident I try to act, the more my insecurity seeps through the cracks of my outer shell. The more I attempt to hide stupid mistakes, the more mistakes I end up making. And the worst part is that the more I try to be perfect so that others will love me, the more I alienate them. The more I alienate myself.
And folks, even writing this – just the thought of talking about these insecurities out on the INTERNET – makes me sweat. I am seriously pitting out with cold, clammy underarms while I write this. So attractive.
And I don’t really have a conclusion to this post. There is no happy wrap-up, except that I feel better just writing about it. Jeff knows all about the nickname. He knows how deep it goes. How it rules my character, and scares me from taking risks. He knows the words that trigger a sudden implosion of tears, anger, and utter-emotional breakdown. And he also know knows the words that calm my fears and release my mind from the horrors of a terrible childhood nickname.
He knows, and he loves.