Insecurities are like a toothless lion to me. I find that insecurity is a common infliction upon humanity. It is a subject that I personally have experience with and that if I were to regurgitate the countless encounters of failing to overcome and victory in the realm of insecurity, you would not want to read it nor do I have the time to write such a lengthy volume. I will share a couple short segments though.
I remember coming across a group of bikers circled up outside of a fast food joint shooting the breeze. I wanted to capture their photos and snag an interview for my project, "The Man Effect". After almost talking myself out of it I finally mustered up the courage, jumped off the proverbial cliff and walked up to those intimidating scalawags. The distance between them and myself felt like the width of the Grand Canyon and deeper than the ocean. Alas, I made the journey beyond my comfort zone and engaged them with some basic questions. Once I began the conversation I started to succumb to my insecurity. My speech became stuttered, my heart began to race wilder than the beating of bumble bees’ wings and I was unable to finish my sentences or thoughts. Taking a deep breath I apologized for my nervousness. The second I had notified the perceived ruffians of my internal weakness it squelched the feelings immediately. Instantly I was completely in control and able to communicate clearly and enthusiastically. I found this to be such a profound experience as all my perceptions and fears were just waiting to be overcome with a little bit of discomfort and perseverance. This group of men turned out to be some of the nicest I had met in a good while and I enjoyed talking with them for that short period of time after harvesting there portraits.
I want to recall another instance. I was needing help to develop and construct my artist statement, I contacted a friend of mine for advice, and in discussing what would need to happen in order to properly create a healthy statement, an overwhelming sense of insecurity began to settle in my chest. Stealing a thought from my last experience with the bikers, I externally verbalized it to my friend to which he responded it was a great place to be in. This simple interaction surprisingly encouraged and eased my comfort. Later, as the process unfolded, I chose to not be held back by the fear of this toothless lion and was met with a great amount of inspiration and excitement.
All of that to say, insecurities seem to be a toothless lion keeping me, and men in general, from tapping into areas of life that could bring joy, happiness, and even life altering experiences. It makes me wonder how many times in my short life have I not gone an extra step or two, just because I was insecure. How many times have I missed the next best thing for myself just because I thought it was going to hurt or I might feel weak? I want to expose this. I want men to know that masculinity is not chopping wood or growing a beard. It is overcoming one's own heart. The journey to be a well-rounded man is not just through the military or sports, although they can be helpful. Rather, it is by bringing into submission one’s own heart, persevering over the mountain of one's own fear, and walking through the valley of insecurity. I find this quote by Ralph Marston to be appropriate, "There are plenty of difficult obstacles in your path. Don't allow yourself to become one of them."
Men, no matter the level of discomfort, insecurity, or fear, I challenge you to press in and press on. I can speak from my own encounters with insecurity, what is on the other side is worth persevering. Awareness of this reality alone will take you further than you expect. If you take time to do internal checks and make yourself aware of what is going on in the depths of your being, you may find that something so utterly menial is all that is holding you back from moving beyond this toothless lion. Insecurity is a consistent dragon throughout history that is needing to be slain. Think of the men who went before us and the circumstances and experiences they had to overcome. Winston Churchill, for instance, may not have been the most ethical human being but the amount of personal gumption it took for him to lead a nation in such a volatile time is undeniably honorable. Strength can be found among men who have overcome what you are facing today. Masculinity, even if it is a socially constructed fragment of society, does transcend time. You can find strength from men around you, from those who have passed on and those living out their story today. You are not isolated in the struggles you have come up against. It may feel like a lonely battle in the thick of it, but there are those who have fought the same fires we are waging against ourselves. You are not alone.
So what are some ways you have overcome insecurity? Do you think men can overcome this? I personally want to never stop facing this toothless lion of insecurity. Is there a lion you can face today?
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