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The Difference Between Sadness and Insecurity

This post, like last Thursday's, was inspired by an old(er) man on Facebook. Keep the ideas coming, fellas. For those of you who didn't read my last blog, I wrote about posting a poem along with a photo and a man asserting that I, "shouldn't put myself through this," because I'm "pretty." It was funny because 1.) I wasn't "putting myself through anything." I wasn't sad nor was my post sad, and 2.) he highlighted the oh-so-common-assumption that pretty people should never be sad because....well, because pretty people are nice to look at. It seems more valid that the people looking at pretty people should have less of a reason to be sad, but I digress. My point was that this gentleman's sideways logic was erroneous at best.

But then, a different but similar older-man-Facebook-acquaintance commented on the link to the aforementioned sadness/prettiness blog, " The most beautiful women are often the most insecure. My wife is beautiful but often sad. As a man the hard thing is not to try to fix it." Perhaps he meant well, but there are a few problems with his statement, which contains contradictions that I'm aware exist within myself. No one is really that "woke," I promise.

I wrote a blog a while back called "Sad, Beautiful Girls." It delineated exactly how girls are valued (for their looks) and therefore not valued (or valued less) for more important traits (kindness, skills, smarts). Our culture sends a weird message to girls, which can be confusing and problematic because girls then have to un-learn that their looks are all that matter. So sometimes, beautiful girls are sad, but not because they're beautiful. We're sad because the world around us is essentially telling us that our best traits (our skills, kindness, smarts) don't matter.

My cheeky response to the, "my wife is beautiful and sad man" was essentially, "sadness and insecurity should not be conflated." Meaning that we can be one without being the other, and vice versa. We can also be both. We can also be neither. Let's take a look at the definitions of both sadness and insecurity, shall we?

sad·ness /ˈsadnəs/

noun: the condition or quality of being sad. adjective: sad; feeling or showing sorrow; unhappy. similar: unhappiness, sorrow, dejection, regret, depression, misery

in·se·cure /ˌinsəˈkyo͝or/

adjective 1. not firmly fixed; liable to give way or break. "an insecure footbridge" 2. (of a person) not confident or assured; uncertain and anxious. "a rather gauche, insecure young man" similar: uncertain, unsure, lacking self-confidence, apprehensive, fearful

Now, one might be sad, in part, because one is insecure, but it's less likely that one might be insecure because one is sad. Insecurity comes from outside ourselves. Think about it: nobody is born insecure, nor is anyone born sad. We learn to feel insecure based upon the outer world and our perceived place in it. Insecurity is not a fixed trait: for instance, if someone who feels insecure in front of a lot of people is forced to give a speech, their insecurity is heightened. Or, if an insecure person is around a lot of people who denigrate them and make them feel worse, they may feel more insecure. But if that same insecure person practices public speaking, surrounds themselves with uplifting people, etc, they will become less insecure.

The same logic can be applied to sadness. We feel sadness deep within us, but sadness can be lessened or deepened by the world around us or by our own attitudes. I really think people learn insecurity, but I don't think we need to be taught to feel sad. I mean, even animals have been shown to have consciousness, which means they feel emotions like sadness. My most important point is that both sadness and insecurity are not permanent states. They are also, not the same. I'd actually argue that sadness is an easier fix than insecurity. Insecurity, (i.e. fear or uncertainty) is overcome by confronting our fears and uncertainties. This is difficult and often requires facing some of our deepest fears and traumas.

Sadness, on the other hand, is an emotion that usually waxes and wanes with time, just as happiness, glee, or ennui wax and wane with time. The concerning thing about my older-man-Facebook-acquaintance's response was that he simply said his wife is sad. All the time? Why? Sadness should not be perpetual (perpetual sadness is depression). And insecurity can contribute to depression, but they are not one in the same, which is why two separate words exist.

It's also interesting to note that his response was pretty broad and encompassing: "The most beautiful women are often the most insecure,"~ A Man.

As if any man can speak for one woman, much less all women. If his wife is in fact, sad a lot of the time, perhaps she and/or both of them would do well to examine her sadness. While I personally don't enjoy feeling sad, sadness can grant individuals feelings they crave: empathy or compassion, for example.

I don't know this man or his wife very well, so I can't speak for them. I can only speak for myself, and state with utter certainty that, as a multi-faceted human, I have moments of sadness. I also have moments of insecurity. I also have moments of joy, moments of confidence, moments of grief, and moments of deep uncertainty. More often than not, I'm more than one of these things at once, which is one of the most beautiful, baffling parts of being human.

None of us are only one thing. If we claim to be only one thing, we're fooling ourselves, and everyone else. My Facebook acquaintance is likely not as singular and problematic as I'm making him out to be. Nor is his wife sad only because she is beautiful. Nothing is as black and white as words or language can make them seem, especially things as beauty, insecurity, or sadness.

P.S. Read more about insecurity and depression HERE, HERE, and HERE. Aren't I lovely for providing further reading?


Sarah Rose

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