28 Things People Don't Realize You're Doing Because You Grew Up Insecure
Growing up, most of us aren’t taught about feelings and mental health. So if you are a kid struggling with feeling insecure, it’s easy to think you’re the only one feeling that way.
That’s why we want anyone who grew up feeling insecure to know there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you, and you’re not alone.
Maybe you grew up in an abusive household, and you constantly battle feelings of worthlessness. Maybe you were bullied as a kid, and internalized the harmful things that were said to you. Or maybe you grew up with a mental illness and it affected your self-esteem.
Whatever the situation was for you, you’re not alone in it — even when it feels like it. To find out what people do now as adults because of a childhood struggle with insecurity, we turned to our Mighty community to share their experiences with us.
If you grew up feeling insecure about yourself, we are so grateful you’re here and in our community. If you’re struggling, we encourage you to post a Thought or Question about it on the site to get support from other people in our community who get it.
Here’s what our community told us:
- “Apologizing for literally everything. And I mean everything — it doesn’t matter what it is. I’m sorry and I’m not even involved in half the things I apologize for, because I don’t want to get in trouble or be thought badly of or make a bad first impression or any other subset of negative reactions, honestly.” — Hansung S.
- “I never learned how to accept compliments. I always say thank you if I receive one, but the back of my head automatically rejects it and wants to interpret it as a lie.” — Alihanra G.
- “Being ‘standoffish’ or ‘rude.’ I love people and if I have a passion, I will talk to you and help you. But I cannot talk first in a social situation, I am so afraid of saying something ‘stupid.’ I just don’t know how to really start conversations and it makes me really insecure. I’m always afraid people won’t like me or think I’m weird so I just stay to myself, it is so hard and so lonely.” — Heather H.
- “Rejecting them before they reject you. Being invited over to someone’s home and then stressing about when it is appropriate to leave. Not too soon, but oh goodness not staying too long!” — Vanessa M.
- “Turned down drinks or food even if I am hungry or thirsty — body image/weight issue stuff; insecurities and fears of being judged. Avoided eating in some public settings or in front of new people, or took much smaller servings or avoided certain foods for fear of judgment. Binged or restricted foods due to unhealthy coping mechanisms I adopted in my pre-teens; bingeing is something I still struggle with and causes a lot of self-loathing, self-hatred and a whole other mix of very negative feelings I used to feel constantly growing up.” — Jenny M.
- “Always asking for reassurance because I’m afraid people are going to leave me or don’t want to talk to me. I also have a hard time accepting compliments.” — Yael G.
- “Always running every choice I make by my husband before I make it. Not because he expects me to, but because I don’t trust myself to pick the right thing.” — Liz T.
- “OK so I hate having attention on me. To this day I cannot for the life of me stand up in front of a group, or even be around a group for the most part. But when I do something, I crave the attention and reassurance from my friends and loved ones and a lot of the time it comes off as attention-seeking. But it’s just because I’m insecure and need reassurance that what I’ve done/said/worn etc. is good or right.” — Chloe L.
- “Immediately having something negative to say back or counter their compliments. My mind taught me that nice things said about me couldn’t be true.” — Courtney H.
- “I explain myself compulsively. Every move I make. Every decision I make. I explain in detail why what I am doing makes sense and is acceptable. I even explain things to my children who absolutely do not need me to explain why I am going to the grocery store at 2 p.m. instead of 12 p.m. I work on it every day because somewhere inside of me, I recognize I am a grown woman and am fully capable of making a decision without anyone else’s help or opinion. I am 49 and I still struggle every day with it.” — Beth P.
- “Overthinking everything, even when I know I’m doing it right. It really affects me at work. It’s hard for me to move up in a company due to second-guessing myself.” — Nicole P.
- “If going on a trip, I have to plan every minute of how we’ll get there and what we’ll be doing. I pack everything you could need for ’emergency’ situations. I even plan which staircase we’ll be walking down. I Google everything. It’s like the more I know, the safer I feel. My boyfriend and friends have to tell me to calm down and chill, but I don’t think they fully understand how insecure I feel about ‘normal’ day-to-day things, let alone trips away.” — Kam S.
- “I need constant approval from those close to me. Like if I have to make a choice or decide even the simplest thing like where we go for food, I need the other person to clearly state or nod to show it was an OK response. Sometimes I panic and just can’t make a decision out of sheer fear I’ll be wrong or upset someone else.” — Kirsty D.
- “Always assuming that everyone else is better than me and that everyone is judging me. I won’t ask questions or express my needs because I’m afraid of what someone will think of me. I’ve always thought I could never do anything right, so a lot of the time I just back off and let someone else do it. This has made me look ‘lazy’ and incompetent, but I actually was just nervous because I felt like I was gonna mess it up.” — NyAmber G.
- “I talk a lot. And people think it’s because I’m comfortable and have the ‘gift of gab,’ but really it’s my coping mechanism for my social anxiety. I hate it because then I overthink what I’ve said and I think people think I just like to hear myself talk. It’s a vicious cycle.” — Sarah E.
- “A lot of jokes at my own expense. Lessens the blow of feeling inadequate. I can’t take a compliment to save my life, and I get extremely embarrassed very easily.” — Veronica S.
- “Hating revealing clothes. Even modest revealing clothes. Bathing suits, tank tops, shorts, flip flops. I’ve been called fat, told that I shouldn’t wear shorts because the veins show in my legs, asked what was was wrong with my feet cause they were veiny and not the same shape as that person’s, and [was told] I don’t have a small waist, even though my waist is small for my body.” — Renee P.
- “Super bad self-image. I look at myself one time in the mirror in the morning and avoid every reflective surface until the next day when I have to face myself again.” — Becky P.
- “My posture. I usually slouch and don’t hold my head up. This started in my youth in the hopes people wouldn’t notice me.” — Hali B.
- “I go into explicit details about whatever the subject of our conversation is, so as to not look like I don’t know what I’m talking about. That and I don’t talk in plain language. By that I mean I have an excellent vocabulary and I use words not commonly used in everyday language or informal discussion. Like very proper and well-educated.” — John V.
- “Not being able to list any positive or good qualities about myself. Job interviews are the worst. [Questions like], ‘What are you good at?’ or ‘What are some positive qualities?’ cause me to freeze up feel inferior and shut down every time. I can’t answer these questions because I see myself only in negative ways. Or I can only see the errors not the accomplishments in my life…” — Brenna B.
- “Being overly friendly and open to people. I just don’t like the idea of being judged, so I talk a lot and be really nice when I first meet someone.” — Ashley A.
- “Constantly making sure I face them sideways. I was born cleft lip and palate and my insecurities have ruined my whole life.” — Raphael C.
- “[I] use makeup as a mask and not an enhancement. “ — Katelyn B.
- “Never accept help from anyone even if it’s from family. I always feel bad and think I’ll end up being a burden to them.” — Leea M.
- “I say ‘I love you’ about 25 times a day to remind them I’m still here and I still care and I need them.” — Bekky B.
- “Over-explaining myself even though I shouldn’t or don’t need to. I always feel I owe it to people or like it’s the polite thing to do.” — Katt C.
- “Asking permission repeatedly. Doesn’t matter the subject, I’m just always looking for reassurance.” — Jada M.
Can you relate?
Unsplash photo via Danh Vo