a girl use a book cover her face

Learning to Overcome My Insecurities

Written by Lynette Tan, Malaysia

I have always struggled with insecurities. As a child, I grew up in an environment that taught me that mistakes can and should be prevented at all costs. If it happens, then it must be my fault. Hence, I have always felt the need to be perfect and to present the best version of myself to everyone.

This mindset affected me so much to the point where I would find it hard to answer questions like, “Tell me more about yourself.” Whenever I was asked this, I would resort to the usual default—name, age, where I was from, and my occupation. But when asked about my strengths, after pondering about them for some time, I would maybe list two or three—detail-oriented, organised, and independent. Weaknesses? I can probably list more than 10 in no time—impatient, stubborn, a perfectionist, and the list goes on.

For years, I hated my weaknesses. My perfectionism often led to plenty of overthinking, and so some things that could be done in a short period of time often took me much longer to complete. My impatience and stubbornness also made me argumentative, especially with those closest to me.

Even though Psalm 139:14 says, “For I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” I realised I have never fully grasped what it really meant. When I came across the verse, my thought was, “Really, God? If I am fearfully and wonderfully made, why do I have so many weaknesses?”.

During the pandemic, I decided to take a break from work and apply for a scholarship to pursue postgraduate studies. Since the school was relatively nearer to my hometown, I decided to move back home to live with my family.

But I had been living away from home for the past eight years, and during that time, I had found comfort in my new community in my new city—it was the first time in my life that I felt like I truly belonged. So now, my home, which should be familiar, had become unfamiliar to me. Not to mention after being a working adult for so long, going back to being a student was like going back to square one. I had to learn how to live with others again, and navigating life as a postgraduate student was also something I needed to learn again because it was a far cry from my undergraduate days. Furthermore, doing research and being involved in the academic world on a higher level was a whole new experience for me.

All these changes made me feel like a lost sheep. I couldn’t find my rhythm as I struggled to adapt to a new life while also finding a sense of belonging. Because I was overwhelmed, I could sense my weaknesses becoming more pronounced in every little thing I did or every situation I was in. Communication with my parents became more difficult, and often ended in a draining argument. I also couldn’t find joy in whatever I was doing, and my impatience in wanting to get things done but couldn’t led to lots of stress.

Eventually, I started speaking less and began keeping things to myself. I often told God I was tired, too tired to even talk to Him. As a result, my relationship with God slowly became stagnant. I was constantly living in the past, longing for the life I had, questioning and doubting God as I wallowed in self-pity.

Even though my instinct was to retreat into my shell and run away from everything, God would not give up on me. It was precisely during this low season that God challenged me to really venture into my deepest thoughts, fears, and weaknesses. He constantly placed me in situations where I could not hide my weaknesses, for instance, having to communicate more with my parents now that I see them 24/7. The accumulating stress as a result of my perfectionism and overthinking also subsequently led to more sleepless nights, the inability to truly enjoy what I was doing and strained my relationship with others. I soon came to a realisation that I could not go on like this, and as hard as it was, I needed to learn to let go of my need for perfection and to trust God more.

One time I came across these words by American actor Morgan Freeman in an interview, which helped me reconsider my perspective of God:

“If someone prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience? Or does He give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does He give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer to each other, do you think God gives them warm, fuzzy feelings? Or does He give them opportunities to love each other?”

Because of my struggles, I realised that I could not survive without God’s strength and really had to stay close to Him. I started talking to God more as I realised He was the only one who fully understood me and was willing to listen to all of my laments, and He would never forsake me. The comfort He gave me was indescribable. There was just this peace in my heart that even if things did not turn out how I wanted them to be, I would still be secure in His hands.

Being around other believers (through cell group and Sunday service) has also been encouraging to me. As I listened to their stories, I was reminded that I was not alone in this journey. They have their own struggles and are fighting a battle no one sees, but through their sharing, I got a glimpse of how God was working in their lives and I am reassured that God was working in mine too.

One day, I was left wanting to find comfort in God’s words after an argument with my parents, so I casually browsed for articles I could read. It was at this moment I stumbled upon a course by Our Daily Bread Ministries, Discover Yourself and Others.

I always had this mindset that being different was bad but this course made me realise that we were made the way we are for a purpose. We cannot have everyone with the same personality in a team to make things work. We need each other’s different set of personalities to do what we cannot. For instance, someone who is sociable might be good in sales and marketing, while someone who is more detail-oriented might be a better fit for admin work. I learned that I, too, can contribute in a way that others might not be able to and vice versa.

As I think about how we are wired differently and have our own set of strengths and weaknesses, I am encouraged to see how we can learn to thank God for our strengths and seek to maximise their impact by using it more where it is needed. Being an organised and detail-oriented person, I could see and plan things in an orderly way, which makes it easier for people working with me.

And in our weaknesses, we can learn to trust God and surrender to Him our insecurities, while reflecting on how to develop our weaknesses. For me, it starts with accepting that my weaknesses are a part of me. From there, it is about intentionally making an effort to change how I am to get a different outcome. As a perfectionist, I was always caught up in trying to achieve a certain ideal outcome, but I have now realised that it is our God who holds the ultimate control, and this has made me secure in releasing the outcome to Him. Whenever my perfectionism starts to creep in, I remind myself that I can only do so much, and I leave the rest to God. As for as my impatience and stubbornness, I am also learning to intentionally try to listen more and to see the other person’s perspective instead of reacting right away.

Through this journey, I came to see how the difficult situations we face daily are opportunities for God to teach us and shape us into whom we are supposed to be, even though we tend to only turn to Him during the low points of our lives. I have also learned that even though we are weak and imperfect, we can still trust God to use each of us to advance His work.

2 replies
  1. Ros
    Ros says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I’ve been doubting my decisions of returning to school, putting my career on hold & encountering study delays, and the guilt of feeling unfamiliar when returning to live with my parents. Thank you for the reminder to trust in God and surrender my insecurities to Him.

  2. Em
    Em says:

    This is very similar to what I’ve been through! Thank you for sharing
    I realize now that I’m also a perfectionist, I thought I wasn’t but I clearly am…

    I did the same as you today, I was desperate and searched some articles to find a little light and comfort in the word of God and I’m going to do a post grad for the next years.

    I still need to reflect and deliver it all to him. But it helped, this page is a blessing!


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