Skip to main content

Insecurity and Relationships

Insecurity is the greatest challenge for me in relationships.

I seldom feel confident as a partner, friend, mentor, or coworker.

In my marriage, I rarely believe I am as intelligent overall as my wife. I know I am not as emotionally balanced as she is. I know I lack her ability to deal with people. I know all the ways in which I fall short of her. I rarely feel that my talents complement hers.

This insecurity means I constantly worry that I have failed her. She could have found a better companion, someone with whom she would enjoy life and enjoy more success. That's a challenge for a relationship, since I'm always fighting the sense that she would be better off without me.

I think to myself, if only I were more successful, more popular, more charming, and more fun, her life would be better. Instead, she's stuck with me holding her back financially and socially.

Similar thoughts impede my friendships, my teaching, and my career. Doubts take over, consuming me at times.

A simple example explains how self-doubt is a problem.

The job interview question, "What is your weakness?" is meant to test honest self-evaluation, but most people try to turn the negative into a positive. In my case, perfectionism is never a positive. It's paralyzing when I work on projects. I need someone to tell me, "The work is good enough. You have done enough."

In relationships, we cannot be perfect either. But, I dwell on the mistakes. I worry every day about some new perceived failure, even if I don't say so aloud.

For a teacher, this is called the "pretender complex" — you feel like you are pretending to be something, an "imposter" within the academy. Everyone expects you to be the expert when instead you become acutely aware of what you don't know about your field… much less any other field.

I feel like an imposter when I lecture. My students tell me they initially consider my "I don't know everything" waiver a form of false humility, like the cultural norm in some Asian countries. But, no, I really don't know everything and I always want to know more so I don't make any mistakes. I'm never the expert I want to be, and yet I am supposedly an expert on some topics.

The strange thing is that I know what I do know, too, and I'm rather aggressive about getting facts correct. It bothers me when "experts" are wrong — so I have long had problems with correcting teachers and mentors when I should have more self control. (Again, something my wife has that I do not: the ability to tolerate misstatements in silence.) My desire to correct things leads to social tensions, especially in workplaces and classrooms.

Because I expect perfection of myself, I assume other students, scholars, and coworkers have the same innate need, the same compulsion, to be correct when they say or write something. My mistakes cause me pain and suffering, and I hate those feelings.

Unfortunately, wanting to be better doesn't make you a good companion, friend, mentor, or coworker. I'm anxious. I'm nervous. I'm apprehensive. People want to be around others who are relaxed and fun. On one hand, I'd be the person listening for the approaching stampede around the campfire. On the other, I wouldn't be telling jokes or singing songs. People like me are useful, but not enjoyed.

I envy people more accepting of themselves and more tolerant of mistakes.

It would be nice to find a better balance between insecurity and a desire to be the best I can be. Yet, even that thought reminds me of how inadequate I might be.


  1. A person with Aspergers may have trouble understanding the emotions of their partner, and the subtle messages that are sent by facial expression, eye contact and body language are often missed. Because of this, a person with Aspergers might be seen as egotistical, selfish or uncaring. These are unfair labels, because people with Aspergers find it very difficult to understand other people's emotional states, and they are usually shocked, upset and remorseful when told their actions were hurtful or inappropriate! ==>


Post a Comment

Comments violating the policies of this blog will not be approved for posting. Language and content should be appropriate for all readers and maintain a polite tone. Thank you.

Popular posts from this blog

Autism, Asperger's, and IQ

"Aren't people with Asperger's more likely to be geniuses? Isn't genius related to autism?"

A university student asked this in a course I am teaching. The class discussion was covering neurological differences, free will, and the nature versus nurture debate. The textbook for the course includes sidebars on the brain and behavior throughout chapters on ethics and morality. This student was asking a question reflecting media portrayals of autism spectrum disorders, social skills difficulties, and genius.

I did not address this question from a personal perspective in class, but I have when speaking to groups of parents, educators, and caregivers. Some of the reasons these questions arise, as mentioned above, are media portrayals and news coverage of autism. Examples include:
Television shows with gifted characters either identified with or assumed to have autistic traits: Alphas, Big Bang Theory, Bones, Rizzoli and Isles, Touch, and others. Some would include She…

Listen… and Help Others Hear

We lack diversity in the autism community.

Think about what you see, online and in the media. I see upper-middle class parents, able to afford iPads and tutors and official diagnoses. I see parents who have the resources to fight for IEPs and physical accommodations.

I see self-advocacy leadership that has been fortunate (and hard working, certainly) to attend universities, travel the nation (or even internationally), and have forums that reach thousands.

What I don't see? Most of our actual community. The real community that represents autism's downsides. The marginalized communities, ignored and excluded from our boards, our commissions, our business networks.

How did my lower-income parents, without college educations, give me a chance to be more? How did they fight the odds? They did, and now I am in a position of privilege. But I don't seem to be making much of a difference.

Demand that your charities seek out the broadest possible array of advisers and board members.…

Life Updates: The MFA Sprint

Life is okay, if more than a little hectic at the end of this first month.

With one month down, I'm 11 months away from my MFA in Film and Digital Technology. Though things might happen and things do go wrong, so far I'm on schedule and things are going well —— though I'm exhausted and working harder than I did for any other degree. Because the MFA requires projects every week, this isn't as easy to schedule as writing. Even researching a paper can be done from the comfort of home, at any hour.

You cannot make movies by yourself, at any time of day. It doesn't work that way. Filming takes time, and often requires a team of people. It's not comparable to working alone on a degree in writing or rhetoric.

The team-based nature of film is exhausting for me, but I enjoy the results. I also like the practical nature of the skills being taught. You either learn how to adjust ISO, f/Stop, shutter speed, and other variables or you don't. You can have theories …