The lack of an assured feeling of self-worth has got to be one of the driving forces in human interaction. Other people’s notions of inferiority affect pretty much everybody, and in a world that loves one-upmanship, the kind most recognized is one done so to an ‘I’m better than you’ effect. Generally the more shallow your identity is, the more it seems you want to feed it by insisting that you’re better than someone else.
Where would the vast majority of reality shows be without people who are insecure? Each one seems to have an uber-insecure person — the one whose personality comes off strongest as it tries to mold every facet of the world to its will. Napoleon Bonaparte has become a symbol for this kind of dynamic, but the common implication that it was synonymous with his height is fairly ridiculous (He was actually average height for his time). If the sentiment rings any truth, it’s because in a shallow world, it’s easiest to see the reflection of one’s identity (and its perceived failings) through a prism of hierarchies. Looking through prisms, however, only gets you distortions. (It does! Try it some time.)
Even if you don’t let your insecurities dictate how you treat people, it certainly seems to dictate the way most people react to other people’s rudeness. The more insecure someone is, the harder it seems for people to let it slide. There’s a kind of insecurity that stems from the lack of authenticity (a fuzzy notion, to begin with), and I think that’s different from people putting up an icy front when they have some sense that, as a given, their looks don’t add up to general niceties. I’ve known people who don’t really care that they’re not pretty or light-skinned enough for people to readily extend themselves for them. They knew enough of warmth and kindness to value it — and show it even where the prevailing attitude toward them was apathy. That’s a a far cry from people who are so empty inside they nurse fatal grudges over someone looking at them funny. The distance between the former and the latter speaks to what people are capable of when they’re not privileged but still have a sense of self that comes from something other than a distortion.
I think the consensus idea of insecure is someone unsure of themselves to the point of being weak. But maybe it’s actually to a person’s credit if he or she is insecure and it manifests itself as someone who is always apologizing for some gilded thing they’re perceived to be lacking in, rather than puffing up like a blowfish or trying to one-up somebody else. Of course, being insecure to the point of thinking that you’re not worth genuinely positive anything is something that has to be worked on — because that’s just a distortion. But if you’re always secure with yourself, chances are you’re living in a world that’s been tailored to you. Maybe that’s why progress for some people feels like a step backwards for others. Some folks think the best the world has to offer is theirs exclusively, because such has been tailored to them and there’s always some distortion to support that.