Insecurities in your twenties. They’re a bitch, aren’t they? No matter how many times you try to avoid what you feel, the doubts you have floating around your head, you always lose. At least, I do anyway.
My name is Jack. I’m twenty-one, and the brainchild behind Catch Twenty-Two. I’ve decided to tackle insecurities.
I’m full of them. There are too many to list, which is why I might write about insecurities again in the future. There is lots to start with – men’s body image, standards we’re supposed to meet. But that’s a different discussion and a different issue.
I’m going to talk about looks and body image.
When I was growing up, men were supposed to be manly. Boys were supposed to be boys, who went out and got dirty and rode bikes and whatnot. Growing up, I did that, but I always knew I was different. I preferred the company of girls, and I always found it difficult to form any relationship with a guy.
Us young boys were surrounded by Ken Dolls and Action Man. Tanned, muscled skin, six to eight packs, the perfect quiff and the beautiful blue eyes. A handsome face with a defined jaw. That was men’s standards to meet.
Growing up, I didn’t think I needed to look like anything. I don’t think you do as a kid. My insecurities probably started when I got to secondary school, when people started bullying and forcing you out of your innocent perfect world.
I was made fun of for many things. My hair, my personality, the fact others could see that I was gay before I knew what it was I was actually feeling. The sports guys, who dominated the school, were building muscle, getting the perfect hairstyle, and I was not.
Throughout school I tried to find myself, of course, but never did. I don’t think anybody really does that young of age in school. In school, I did fall into depression – something many people don’t know about myself – and for the last two years of school I was in a bad place. I didn’t feel great about myself. I was too skinny, too ugly, too greasy. I couldn’t be myself without being judged, and school taught me that being myself was wrong.
After I left school I joined college and felt a bit better about myself. I made friends quite naturally, and I started to grow into myself. During all of that, though, I started comparing myself to others. There were guys who were tall and handsome, or guys that just oozed cool. And I didn’t, and I couldn’t get why I didn’t. I needed to meet some standards, I knew that, so I continued to try and change myself.
Changing myself was effort. It was draining. It was an injustice to who I really was. At sixteen, seventeen, I was still fresh out of school and afraid to be who I was.
Somehow, eventually, I did just change into myself. I think when I joined my apprenticeship, I felt more grown up. I was heading into a working environment, at eighteen. By now, I had chopped off all my long hair, and I started to look more like the way society expected me to be.
But even on my apprenticeship, I couldn’t be honest about my sexuality. It took me awhile, and I only told my close friends. The insecurity I had to be myself was still ingrained on me, from secondary school, where I attribute many of my insecurities.
After my apprenticeship, it took me a good year or two to come out fully and accept who I was. Yes, it was scary, but by the time I told my parents my friends knew, my sisters knew and I knew it had to come out. And when it did I felt better. I no longer feel insecure for being gay. There’s nothing wrong with it.
But I have other insecurities now. I look at my boyfriend and wonder why I don’t look as good as he does. I’ve been there when people compliment him on how handsome he is, on his eyes, on his smile. And I sit there thinking, ‘Why aren’t I being complimented?’ Isn’t that selfish? It is, isn’t it? I can go days, weeks even, thinking I look good, feeling comfortable in my skin, but then something happens to knock that all down and make me feel shit about myself. The foundations I use to build my confidence is not cement. It’s jenga blocks. One pull and it all falls down.
Then I’ll be on holiday, or see someone in the street, or a photo online. Sometimes it’s a guy topless, with a perfect body met by standards put on us by the media. I feel envious of those men, and know they get that body from work, but it seems so unachievable to me.
Other times, and this is going to sound ridiculous, I feel like something as simple as my manhood is too small, and I can beat myself up about that. Ridiculous, isn’t it?!
Insecurities are ridiculous. They’re there to make us feel shit about who we are, the way we look. Comparing yourself to others is the worst thing you can probably do.
I’ll look at other people’s lives. They’re moving in with couples, getting promotions, getting new jobs and new lives. They’re moving away to different countries, or they’re getting engaged, and suddenly all of my achievements mean nothing, and I’m unhappy and feel completely empty inside.
Here’s another issue – my photos on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are things I post so I can remember memories. I always taker photos, of myself and others, because it’s special to me. But I can never upload an unedited photo. There always has to be a filter on it, brightness adjusted, airbrush put on. I’m letting you in on my secrets here!
Take the photo above, for example. That might not look edited, but it is.
Below, is the before edited photo and the after. See if you can spot the differences!
Can you spot the differences? I’ll tell you.
The birthmark on my leg has been taken out in the second picture, as have the spots on my face. This is just a basic edit, but I’ll spend a good five minutes or so editing my other photos. I’m too insecure to upload unfiltered.
The culture we live in now is all about likes. Don’t get double figure likes? Better take it down. It’s so stupid, so ridiculous, it doesn’t help our insecurities.
So no matter how many times my boyfriend tells me I’m gorgeous, or how many times I get complimented, I take it all with a pinch of salt. It isn’t healthy, it’s not good, but it is life.