Reasons Your RP Characters Might Look Insecure

There are a lot of characters who end up unintentionally coming off as very insecure - or at least, much more insecure than they should be if they're going to be or do what their creators want them to. (Highly insecure people make terrible leaders, and their insecurities often make it difficult, if not impossible, to be close friends or lovers with them.) So here are some things to watch out for if you want to make sure your characters don't come off as more insecure than you intended, or would be really suitable for what you want to do with them.

Or if you like, use this list as possible suggestions for portraying a character who is supposed to be insecure - it's a perfectly valid (and even relatable!) flaw/weakness, after all!

Note that some of these behaviors can make your characters come off as arrogant or egotistical or even creepy, too!

Your characters have to justify or defend everything they do. There are two forms of this. One is being unable to admit to making mistakes or to own up to doing anything wrong or harmful - they might immediately blame external/uncontrollable factors, point out the mistakes of others, or just declare that it wasn't their fault - anything but accept responsibility for what they did. (And yes, a blunt "I don't have to justify myself to you!" can itself be a justification, if they're using it to dodge accountability for their actions!) The other one is trying to defend or justify harmless, trivial stuff. As long as it's not affecting or is going to affect other people and/or their stuff in some way, or isn't giving people reasonable cause to worry, it probably doesn't need justified or explained. They will look especially insecure if they start trying to defend themselves before anyone has even so much as commented on what they're doing.

Your characters often defer to the authority of others. They might defend something they do by saying that some so-and-so does it, or they try to back up what they say by saying something to the effect of "you can even ask [so-and-so]!"

Their sentences end in multiple periods. This is often used to indicate a voice that trails off, which often indicates that one feels insecure or nervous. Plus, people often end their own texts thus when they feel this way, so characters whose spoken or texted words that end thus on the regular are going to come off as pretty insecure.

Your characters lack their own identities. A common problem with next-gen characters. They lack their own "thing" - instead, they like what their parents like, do what their parents do, and exhibit the exact same personality traits as their parents. When you see people imitate the traits and personalities of others so closely in real life, it can mean that they're afraid of being themselves, or are afraid of stepping out of certain boxes or boundaries they've created for themselves.

Your characters are super-sensitive to criticism or perceived criticism. Upon hearing any criticism at all (or anything that sounds like criticism to them), they immediately react in a drastic manner. Perhaps they start going on at length trying to defend themselves (such as by listing all of their own accomplishments or credentials), or perhaps they start trying to list why those who criticized them aren't actually that great, or perhaps they just start going on and on about how they're being treated unfairly. Or perhaps they threaten or enact punishment and/or retribution upon those whom they believe have criticized them.

Your characters can't handle being questioned. Similar to the above - if they're ever questioned on anything (such as whether they're qualified to handle some job or other) they go on at length listing their previous accomplishments, try to make those who questioned them feel ashamed or wrong for even daring to bring up such doubts, or threaten or enact punishment and/or retribution upon them.

Your characters get very upset over every disagreement, setback, or inconvenience. For example, they get agitated if their friends or lovers mention that they don't like something that they like themselves, or they get suspicious if their friends or lovers are a few minutes late to anything on the rare occasion. This can indicate that they see relatively small, even normal things as signs of impending disaster or disloyalty.

Your characters frequently brag. They often bring up or try to show off how great they are or how much better they are than others. Perhaps they bring it up when it's only tangentially related to what's going on, or perhaps they often talk about how they're better than so-and-so. Or perhaps they're always talking about how the stuff they like is so awesome and great.

Your characters frequently try to one-up others. For example, if anyone does something cool, they must do the same thing only better or with more ease. Or if anyone mentions doing or having something good, they must mention how they've done or have something better. Or if anyone mentions liking something, they must talk about how what they like is better.

Your characters have to comment on or offer "smart" or "enlightening" input on everything. Especially when it's something that's outside their own fields or areas of experience. This kind of behavior indicates being irrationally afraid of being seen as ignorant or inept.

Your characters can't gracefully admit they just don't know. Instead, they either make something up and go on about it as if it's absolute truth, or they outright insult whatever it is they don't know (possibly with the implication or outright statement that it's not worth knowing about), or they abruptly end the conversation somehow.

Your characters always have to look great. No matter what's going on, they must always look perfect - and perhaps even try too hard to do so, such as by wearing far nicer clothes or much more elaborate makeup than the situation really demands. This can indicate that they are insecure over what people will think if they look less than great.

Your characters frequently assume the worst. They very often just assume that others have malicious intent, or are acting with an agenda, or quickly write others off as jerks, snobs, shallow before they've even had the chance to talk to and get to know them. Or they see some ambiguous situation go down, and simply assume it's the worst possible scenario it could be.

Your characters try to micromanage everyone's beliefs or behaviors. For example, if anyone says or does something that might be considered a little rude or considerate, they harshly upbraid whoever did it or insist on a stern and swift punishment for it. This can indicate that they're irrationally afraid of a slippery slope effect, or if they weren't the recipient of the action, don't trust others to be able to handle their own problems for themselves. Or if they see someone watching or reading anything containing any characters or viewpoints they disagree with, they are quick to admonish others how whatever it is, is wrong or immoral. This sort of thing indicates that they don't trust others to be able to make sound judgments and come to sound conclusions on their own - in other words, they're afraid of what might happen if they let others think and decide for themselves.

Your characters try to hold others back from trying new things or from becoming successful. If anyone decides to try something new, decides that they want to do something to improve themselves or their lots in life, your characters make snide or disparaging remarks about it, or try to talk them out of it, or outright try to sabotage them. This can indicate that they feel threatened by people succeeding where they themselves are failing (or might be perceived as failing), or by the thoughts of being left behind when others become more successful than they are, or by the thoughts of people becoming too powerful or influential for them to control anymore.

They can't laugh at themselves. They can't see the humor in their own harmless mistakes and gaffes, and instead get visibly upset over them and/or get upset with those who dare to crack a smile or make light-hearted (but not mean-spirited) comments on it. Nor can they ever poke fun at their own flaws.

They can't take light-hearted teasing. They get upset or agitated over any sort of teasing whatsoever, even if it's said light-heartedly and the one doing it has shown a pattern of being caring, supportive, and encouraging otherwise.

They see anything that isn't explicit approval as implicit disapproval. For example, if they ask for opinions on something and they get answers that amount to essentially a shrug and an "it's okay" or "I don't know," they assume it means those they asked hate it, rather than simply being neither here nor there on it or simply not having been exposed enough to it to have an opinion on it. Or if they see anyone they know being in the same areas but really paying attention to them (perhaps somebody just reading a book), they assume that they're being deliberately ignored and snubbed.

Your characters can't just stop, back up, apologize, and try to move on. After they do something that bothers others, they go on making apologies and/or beating themselves up even after others have told them that it's no big deal and/or have acknowledged and accepted their apologies. (Plus, doing this kind of thing makes everything very awkward very fast.)

Your characters can't move on after others apologize. Even after anyone who has bothered or hurt them apologizes and tries to move on, they don't let it go and try to move on, too - instead, they go on and on about how bad or inconsiderate it was and/or how awful those who did it to them were. (It's also worth mentioning that the recipients of these tirades often end up feeling like they're being verbally cornered and that everything they say or do will be wrong or not good enough, leaving them with no 'out' from the verbal onslaught. This can drive them into a panic state, especially if they are prone to anxiety already.)

Other pages you should look at:

Reasons Your RP Characters Might Look Arrogant & Egotistical
Reasons Your RP Characters Might Be Creepy (In A Bad Way)
Basic Tips To Make Better & More Appealing Roleplaying Characters
Tips To Avoid Killing Your RP Character's Conversations
The RP Character Playability Test

On Writing & Roleplaying Characters Who Are Good Leader Material
Reasons Your RP Characters Might Be Bad Friends Or Love Interests

Basic Tips To Make Better & More Appealing Roleplaying Characters
Tips To Be A More Thoughtful & Considerate Roleplayer
Protagonist-Centered Morality: What It Is, And How You Can Avoid It

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