While on a recent trip to Disneyworld, I was confronted by the very strange reality that I am no longer the person I was at 18. Sure, It’s obvious by my hairline that I in no way resemble a high schooler, but I’m not referring to my physical appearance or even really my personality. What I am referring to are the subtle insecurities that I have wrestled with for the past 10(ish) years.
This realization happened in front of an early 2000s-era television set which had been programmed to prompt little kids, and in this case 26-year-old men, with several personality questions to determine which Disney princess they are. I don’t remember which Disney princess the quiz determined me to be, so I took a Buzzfeed quiz and it turns out I’m Ariel (see proof below). I do, however, remember my answers to two specific questions.
How do you get questions wrong on a personality quiz?
As I breezed through the topics, I came across two questions which elicited a very audible snicker from my younger sister-in-law who was standing behind me. I didn’t think it was possible to have a wrong answer on a personality test, but as it turns out, it is.
The two questions I got wrong on my Disney Princess quiz:
- Are you a more emotional person or a logical person?
- Do you think things through or jump into them?
To both of the above questions, I answered in ways that were more in line with high school Jordan than the one who sits writing these words today. To the first I said I was emotional and to the second I said I jumped into things. My sister-in-law laughed at each and proceeded to tell me that those were the wrong answers.
The truth is, she was right.
High School Jordan
I, like most of us, was a very insecure high schooler. Most of my behaviors were centered around gaining as much attention as humanly possible. I was impulsive, headstrong, and very, very emotional. As a result, I was always very afraid of being found out as a faker.
It sounds silly, but for the rest of the afternoon I walked around in a bit of a daze. I was quietly stunned by my own inability to see my real personality traits.
Call it a transition into adulthood, call it growing up, call it getting one step closer to death–all those definitions are somewhat accurate. But the truth is that the person I am today is decidedly different than the person I was in high school, so I really don’t know why I still think of myself as that scrawny 17 year old wearing his jacket inside out because he thought it looked cool.
If we’re honest, I think we all carry some insecurity from high school, and our twenties seem like as good a time as any to confront them.
Step 1: Take Inventory of Your Insecurities
I’m not a counselor, but it seems like this sort of introspective thinking usually works best when you start by asking yourself really good questions. It also helps me to be in a physical place where I don’t feel weird talking to myself out loud.
Questions to Ask Yourself:
- What was I like in high school?
- What was I afraid of in high school?
- Am I still like that? Am I still afraid of those things?
- What’s changed in my life since then?
Step 2: Ask a Close Friend How You’ve Changed
I’m not suggesting these sorts of conversations come naturally and it definitely helps to have a spouse because they are obligated to listen, but I hope that most of us have at least one person who we can talk to about these things. Obviously it helps to still have friends from high school who have known you through different phases of life, but maybe this is also a chance to call your mom (you know she wants you to) and ask her. She may surprise you.
For me, it was really helpful to talk through these questions with my wife. I told her how in high school I was very self conscious and felt like I didn’t matter, so I cloaked it by constantly being ridiculous. The truth is I didn’t have the self esteem to not stand out. I don’t think I’m so totally different now, but my wife is very smart and tells me I’ve changed so I trust her.
Step 3: Pay Attention to your Thoughts
After I took the quiz at Disneyworld I realized that I lie to myself a lot. I tell myself that I’m overly emotional and not as smart as my friends. Internally, I still beat myself up for the same things I did in the heyday of Taking Back Sunday and The Used.
I’m not saying I know how to get over your insecurities or even that it’s totally possible to eliminate them from your life, but noticing your negative thoughts is powerful. Since that Disney trip, I’ve become more aware of those thoughts and I now find myself quietly whispering, “you’re not that guy anymore.”
The person you are right now is not the same as the person you were in high school. So why are you still worrying about the same things?