Insecurity Behind the Smile

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I tried to write all of this in an Instagram post, but it told me it was too long! It probably wasn’t meant for social media, anyway, so I’m sharing it here, in my safe place.

Style white tulle skirt blue wall


Fabulous blue wall✔️


New white tulle skirt✔️

Freshly curled hair✔️

Fancy black heels✔️

Insecurity behind the smile✔️

Sometimes I feel completely in-authentic sharing shiny happy pictures, when I have moments of struggle while posting them. It’s not that I’m afraid to share, it’s just that I generally prefer to focus on the positive, and I never want to hurt anyone else in the process. But I truly think it’s important that we can share with each other our challenges, because I think we can be strengthened by others, and it’s just a reminder that social media does not tell the full story.

This morning, in our seminary Bible study class, we talked about the Goliath in our lives, or challenges. I had each of the kids write on a post-it note, a challenge they are currently facing, and we put them on a giant poster of Goliath, as we slung oversized marshmallows at him. It was a fun activity, but what I want most wanted them to know, is that through all of life’s challenges, if we can remember, like David did, that with God all things are possible, we will be much happier in life.

When class was over, and I was cleaning up from the activity, I pulled off all of the post-it notes, to read them.

They were anonymous, so I don’t know who wrote what, but I was heartbroken to see a bunch of them wrote that among their biggest challenges were finding good friends, and feeling accepted. I think it pricked my heart so much more, because I can relate. I want them to know, and others out there who are struggling, that they are not alone, and I have truly felt lifted through prayer in this personal challenge of mine.

I’ve had major insecurities around friends lately, and it seems so strange because I never had that growing up. As an adult, I’ve been left out of things, recognized I’m the pity invite, shown up at a restaurant to find a group of people gathered that I wasn’t invited to, been ignored, dismissed, asked questions to others to not have any questions in return, my comments seen as irrelevant…. and most of that has happened in the past year.  I’d like to think that I’m a fairly easy person to get along with, but I’ve also come to accept that I may just rub people the wrong way, and I need to be OK with that, because, lets be real, some people rub me the wrong way. All we can do is try to keep a smile on our face, push through the tears, and aim to be kind hearted, even when we don’t get along with some people. I used to be the party-thrower, always gathering people together, but it became too painful when I’d organize, and not feel included when others organize. So I’ve mostly stopped those. If I try less, it’s not as painful.

I used to lament to my husband that I wish I were “funnier.” I notice all those funny people really get the “approval” card from others, and I just don’t have that trait. I figure, if I’m not funny, surely I’m just boring.  BUT, I’ve got heart, and I care about people, and I’ve decided that if I can’t be funny, I should at least feel grateful for that.

A bit over a year ago, I wrote a post all about being TOO Sensitive. I am overly sensitive. I notice and feel everything. I wish I weren’t so sensitive sometimes, I wish I could let things roll off my sleeve, or have thicker skin, but I’m overly aware of others and their actions, and often am realizing that what I have to offer isn’t what some people need. So if I can’t make people laugh, I must at least try to go with my strength that I care. I care deeply about people and what makes them tick. I want to understand people, and I’m sure I’m often bothering people with my incessant questions.  Sometimes I don’t have boundaries, because I honestly don’t care sharing everything with people. I only ask questions because I want to truly know them, know their heart.

Life isn’t fair. We can’t expect it to be. Just as my beautiful-still-single-high-school-friend texted me last night, as we discussed her dating life. We are all dealt different cards, and I’ve decided that this is one of the big ones for me. I go back and forth in my mind with wanting to be mean and spiteful, ignore the world, call people out on things, cry about it, or brush off the dust and move forward with those people that I truly know care, and that’s what I end up doing…eventually. I do have those awesome people in my life. Good, solid friends, so why am I so bothered by those that don’t care? I try hard not to focus energy on the negativity, and aim to share the good, the happy, the joy. In all of these struggles, I think God is trying to point me in the direction of what is truly important, and that is my family. I have so much gratitude for the good, supportive man that I’m married to, and I’m overly blessed by children whom so far…still seem to like me!  So really, how can I complain?

I write all this down, because I want my seminary students to know, and all of you out there who think that colorful, bright, happy social media pictures DON’T tell the full story.  I think it’s great that we can share triumph and happy online, the downside is that people don’t know the heartache that everyone experiences, behind it. I don’t want any “I’m sorry’s” or pity from people, I’ve come to a good place in all of this. It doesn’t mean it stops from hurting, but I tend to “get over it” quicker than in the past (with just a day or two of tears). I have faced this Goliath before, and come out ok, I know I will face it again and again. I think more of us struggle with “the friend thing” than we let on. It’s embarrassing, awkward, and hurtful, so surely we don’t shout it from the rooftops. But, I do feel it’s important to share, because I think in sharing insecurities or sadness, we can bless others in knowing they are not alone. THAT is more important to me than any embarrassment I might have.

So the next time you see a picture that makes you feel insecure, or that you’re not good enough, I hope you can think of this blue wall, and my smile, and be reminded that things aren’t always what they seem. That we can band together in knowing that no one has it all. We all have something that brings us to tears.

Join The Discussion



  1. Wow, I could have written this post a few years ago – it still feels very raw! I remember seeing a group of about 10 of my very close friends from church posing in front of a nice restaurant on facebook – without me! I felt a punch to my gut! How could they be going out without me and then brag ab out it online??? I sat there and cried…. I remember praying to Heavenly Father and asking him why I wasn’t included and why I felt so insignificant… I asked for some meaning and significance in my life, because I was feeling so low at that time. A few days later, I was called to a huge stake calling, asked to be a temple worker, and a few other huge things started happening in my life. While I sometimes feel like I should have just sucked it up and not whined about it in my prayers, my new life callings have brought me so much joy, because I have stopped thinking about me and have started thinking about others. This was a huge thing for me, because I hadn’t realized that I was falling into a self-pity pit, so what a wake-up call this was for me. I am thankful that it happened, because I have learned so much – and I am a better person because of it! Thanks for this great article – it really hits home!

    • Love hearing about ‘life on the other side’ gives me hope. Thank you for your wise words x

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. I agree, that re-focusing our attention on other things/people is really the only way out of a funk. It’s ok to cry and be hurt and upset, but we gotta pull out of it and forgive, or it just makes us downward spiral.

  2. Oh wow! So much of what you wrote I can relate too! I too wear my heart on my sleeve, but it’s a quality my husband always reminds me is my greatest strength. He loves how open and honest I am and tells me how he loves to see me glow when I get into the situation to use it. Unfortunately after 2 year here I have yet to ‘make friends’ (that sounds awful doesn’t it-and I never expected it too happen at 31). But I’m finding it so hard not to be included in things, hurt at being forgotten and a little nervous to be 3000 miles miles away from my friends and family with a new new baby due soon and no local support.

    Eeeeekkk, anyway like you said, I didn’t mean to have a pity party – maybe it’s time to refocus on my faith and see where God wants me, maybe I’ll find people on the way, or maybe it’s time to move on. I am blessed with an amazing family and need to remember that more than I do.

    Thank you for writing so beautifully

    • I feel the same way. I guess in reading this post and the comments that follow, I’m learning that I am definitely not alone. I moved with my husband about 10 months ago and have struggled with finding my place here. A job that I feel I can thrive in…friends. I did just start a job that feels like a good fit and there are two other women here that are easy to talk to. All of my family and friends are 2,000 miles away. I’ve gained 25 lbs since I moved. Even when I was in my hometown though…the same things you were talking about would happen. Seeing people that I considered close friends out together when they are always too busy if I ask them to do something with me. Prayer has helped me a lot to not be so sensitive…be a more spiritually mature person. I jsut pray that it all comes together because I am very happy with my new husband and I do like it here overall. Ugh….the struggles.

      • Kristen Duke says:

        Hugs to you, Tami!!! Moving and new jobs and (new husband) all of that are very, very tough, don’t underestimate that. Lots of big life changes all at once! I’m sorry you’ve experienced heartache, and my hope for you is that you’ll find peace in your new place. I mentioned to someone else, the best thing I find is to look outward, see whom I can bless, look for opportunities of service, and it always pulls me outside of that head space. Thank you for sharing your heart.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Caroline, thank you for sharing your heart! You know, when I moved when I was pregnant with my first, it was extremely lonely. I kept feeling sad, and then I got the impression that I needed to look around, and find someone who was more sad than me, and I was directed to an unlikely person, and I soon found out how much she truly needed someone at that time. Be prayerful about who you can bless, and I have faith you will be guided. Big e-hugs, and blessings for the new baby!

  3. This is exactly what I needed to hear today! Thank you for your inspiration! I am an adult and I feel like I have dealt with this my whole life. I think we all want acceptance no matter our age. I have lots of friends but I never feel like I have “a friend”. I’m always the third wheel. I am dealing with something that has just happened and was reiterated to me again last night. Today I am tired because I was up thinking about it all night. Thank you for putting it into perspective. I am truly blessed with what matters most!!!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Big hugs to you, Tamara! Thank you for sharing your heart, I hate to hear that you aren’t sleeping well from your situation, and I hope you can feel peace soon. Delighted to hear that my words may have been helpful in some way or another.

  4. Thanks for your honesty. Sometimes reading the blogs can be a little depressing because everyone seems perfect, diy competent, organized , ect. I started reading blogs when my life stopped on a dime with a chronic illness. My family has decided I’m too much work and so I’m left out of family events now. I used to be the organizer, like you, and now I just pretend it doesn’t matter. It’s hard, though because I still love them and want to be near them. I have had to trust that The Lord is using this time for growth. I know you trust Him too.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Julie, I’m so sorry you’ve felt isolation from family, that is extra hard. Especially with dealing with health issues, challenging to control. The bloggers DEFINITELY don’t have it all, I know lots of them, and we all have challenges…major life challenges. I feel so silly mentioning mine, when I know others are dealing with far more challenging things. Keep the faith, I’m happy to see you recognize the opportunity for growth. Hugs.

  5. Aloha Kristen,
    Just wanted to chime in and say, I think you are amazing just the way you are! Don’t change a thing. You and your blog have inspired me for several years. Artists are always super sensitive..that’s the way you have to be to notice all the detail and beauty in the world. Just wanted to encourage you to continue on your path. friends come and go. but You are friends with the King of Kings and that’s all that truly matters.
    I’m grateful for your blog( I have 4 kiddos too) your sweet spirit and ideas have spilled over and enriched my family. keep smiling, keep glowing, may the blessings keep flowing your way. We need more women in the world like you Kristen, leave any insecurity behind. You are only defined by what God says about you and he says you were created to love and be loved!!!!!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Aloha Christy! You brought tears to my eyes, thank you for your kind words. I’d never heard that about artists, very interesting…sensitive people, huh? I think I’m going to have to make a quote out of that…ha ha! Good words to live by, for sure. You sound like a bright ray of sunshine (hailing from Hawaii?) and a fellow friend in faith and family. Brings me joy to hear that my ideas I’ve shared have blessed your family. Thanks for coming around and sharing your heart!

  6. Thanks for opening your heart. I’m sure it means a lot to your seminary kids. I’m so thankful that I seriously have the best friends. And it’s been hard since I have moved away from them. I didn’t think it would be this hard to make friends. I plan fun get togethers, I’m kind, fun and genuine. Super social and my interests are pretty common among our faith. I moved to AZ, where there is tons members like me, and it’s getting better, but it’s hard. I remind myself I am lucky to have such great people in my life, even if they are a state away. I started a blog and that helps. Sorry there are lame people where you live. I’m assuming they are lame if they don’t see how awesome you are. I’ve had a hard time fitting in before and I am thankful for the chance to learn how to be an includer & a noticer. Having a tender heart is really hard sometimes.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Kristie! Big hugs to you in Arizona! I was just there, and a few of my friends said it is a challenge there…for a few reasons. Everywhere is a challenge though, lots of personalities in this world, and I’ve decided that the people here, I don’t believe are intentionally doing things to hurt me, just indifferent to what I have to offer. And it’s a small group that I just can’t figure out how to STOP trying to please. I’m getting better. I’ve got my loyals, just don’t get to see them too often. i love your last line…having a tender heart is really hard sometimes. That needs to be a printable…ha ha!

  7. i wish i could give you a hug!! i can relate to so much of what you write … i have really struggled with friends here in our Evanston ward, but not in our previous wards. and i can’t really figure out why! it can be so hard. love you!!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Miss you, friend! I’ll accept your e-hug. I’m sorry to hear of your struggle, it’s new though, right? Give it time. It can be hard, look for someone who needs a friend, and serve them.

  8. Sue Quinton says:

    Do you want to come to my party?

  9. Sue Quinton says:

    It might just be the two of us….. but we would have a blast!

  10. Not throwing a pity party. Making friends as an adult is HARD. Really hard. Even if you have common shared interests like your faith. I wish for the days when it was easier. A kid in your class wore a purple shirt and purple was your favorite color, and BOOM instant friendship! It’s so much harder as an adult with all our anxieties and issues and just life stuff getting in the way. I try to focus my energies on my family and the few close friends I do have and loving the heck out of them. It takes some of the sting out of being left out but it still stings. Everybody wants to be liked. Humans a social creatures. You definitely aren’t alone.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      I had no idea! I breezed through the friendship thing in my teen and single days, and even with toddlers I had a great friend to chill and watch Oprah with, it was never a challenge for me. Just an unexpected surprise in later years that I clearly haven’t dealt well with. Everyone does seek to be liked, and we don’t handle it well when we can tell that isn’t happening.

  11. Wise words Kristen, beautifully written as always! If I lived nearby I would definitely love to be your friend! Love that you don’t mind sharing the hard stuff!

  12. Thanks for sharing – I needed to read that I’m not alone in these feelings and experiences 🙂

  13. Kristen I can’t tell you how much you continue to inspire me! You are so honest and seemingly unafraid to “put yourself out there” for others. I really appreciate that you are willing to take risks to make the rest of us recognize that life is not “picture perfect” for any of us, that we all have insecuritie and worries. Most of all you remind me to not be so quick to judge others as we don’t know what their story is. :o)

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Karyn, thank you for your comment, it means a lot. I’m pretty much an open book,and I’ve hesitated to share this before because I don’t want to point the finger or hurt others in the process. I’ve typed it out a few different ways, but could never hit the PUBLISH button because of that. I’m happy to remind that no one has the picture perfect, even if we aim to have our pictures perfect online..haha! I’m a photographer, I can’t help it! We don’t know others stories, and I, too, can quickly judge from thinking others have it all. No one does.

  14. I love this post. I completely relate to the not being funny thing. I appreciate a good joke of course, and I can be silly, but I’m more serious by nature – not exactly the life of the party- you know what I mean? I have felt so many of the same things, been on the fringes of certain groups, the pity invite, just not connecting with people. But…. as my kids have gotten older and I see how fabulously different they each are, and as I try to teach them to be comfortable in their own skin it’s rubbing off on me a little bit. Motherhood is awesome like that isn’t it. The other night my husband asked me if I felt left out of a certain group in our neighborhood, and I could honestly answer him that I didn’t . That I didn’t really fit with them as wonderful as they are – or at least try to appear to be:) that was snarky sorry. I have a group of friends and I have him and I find fullfillment in so many areas of my life. I have found some of my closest friends by looking for those on the outskirts. Anyways, that wasn’t meant to be a sermon. I just relate – it’s hard, but it will be OK. You touch so many through this blog.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Nicole!!! Thank you for your sermon, I love it! THat’s what I love most about posts like this is hearing from so many that come by here, it makes me so happy to hear my words (and suffering) can bless others in a small way. I, too, have found that the council I give my kids is coming back to remind me of what I most need to hear and understand. I have found more and more that when I think about it, I DON’T want to be with people that their actions cause me to feel sad, and I remove myself from situations like a book club or big gathering, because I prefer the more intimate setting with just a few good souls. I’m just fine not going to everything like I felt like I had to do in my earlier years. I agree, that there is much good to find on the “outskirts” and sometimes it takes lows like this to go looking…thanks for mentioning that. Hugs to you!

  15. This post was perfect timing. I was about to write a post regarding feeling left out (not invited to a gathering) when I received the email with your post. It helped knowing you have been through this as well. I feel like a failure at times because I feel like it is my fault that people don’t want to include us but I realize I need to just keep on being me. Offering help even if not accepted, inviting others over even if it is not reciprocated, being kind and loving because that is what God wants. Many times I really want to move back home closer to my family where I am accepted but there is a reason I am here (besides my husband’s work) Thank you!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Chantel, I’m so sorry to hear of your struggles, I’m happy to hear that sharing my challenge helped a little bit. When we moved into our new place, it had been 3 months, and I kept waiting for the invites to come in, and they never did. I decided I would just start inviting people over to our home, because I wanted to get to know others. They often commented, “you are new, we should have had you over” to which I’d grin and carry on the conversation. I’m not going to sit around and wait for others, sometimes we have to take matters into our own hands! there IS a reason why you are where you are. You can do it!

  16. I love you!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      I think you are the my friend. Have we ever actually met in real life? Ha ha! If we did, it was for like 5 seconds…

  17. I’ve been feeling bad about my snarky comment all day. The group of girls in my neighborhood are really great, just different than me.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Oh no, you are so sweet to come back and comment! I just read all of these today (I wanted to read/comment at the same time, and I wasn’t quite ready last week). I think we all have those comments in our hearts that want to creep out, and this seems like a good enough place to sneak. I can echo what you said, but I can assure you, all of them have insecurities, too, and some of them it’s not having a great home life, so just count your blessing that you have a husband that cares about your social life, I do, too, and it means so much. Hugs!

  18. I can’t believe I haven’t read this until now. You speak to my heart (and clearly so many others). Thank you for being real and raw. I have been working on loving myself just the way I am and letting go of relationships I wish were different. It’s such a hard process and I thought it was tough (at the time) being a teenager but it seems worse as an adult to fit in and make friends. It is comforting to know I am not the only one. I think you are amazing and a great influence. 🙂

    • Kristen Duke says:

      I mean, really, you aren’t reading every word I write every day? It is truly a tough process, and seems like it shouldn’t be as an adult, right? You seem to have a great family support system, which is so important, and a blessing. Thanks for always sharing your comments on my heart posts, I love to hear from you, too.

  19. Thank you for this post! I love the idea of literally throwing something at my insecurities. I understand exactly where you are coming from. I find myself trying to change to fit into other people’s perception of who I should be and when that happens I have to stop myself and do some soul searching. This post touches my heart and reminds me that it’s ok to just be me.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Well write it out, put it on the wall, and peg it with some tennis balls or something! I think it’s amazing that you notice yourself trying to change for others, then stopping yourself. It IS ok to be you. Thanks for sharing your heart. Soul sisters with same name!

  20. Still experiencing this and I’m trying so hard to make close friends. I feel like I have plenty of people to say “hi” to in the halls at church but no one I can call up just to chat. I feel like a broken record talking about it now. It’s kinda depressing but I’ve made goals to do specific things to grow friendships. Just saying, you aren’t alone.