It is probably pretty obvious, but I am filled with feelings of inadequacy. Like most things, it has its positive effects and negative effects, but I think, for the most part, that this/these feeling[s] hinder more than they help. [sometimes when i write, i have far too many weird things going on in my sentences, such as the brackets, slash, and comma plethora in the last one]

I don’t feel like I am better at anything than anyone else. I know someone who is vastly more knowledgeable or talented or successful or driven, for every possible thing that interests me. I’m mildly envious, but moreso I just feel bummed that I’m not the best at anything. I know two amazing poets and a few great writers, several talented musicians, some great artists, razor-witted thinkers and problem solvers, determined activists, elegant web designers, world class athletes, deft filmmakers, computer tech gurus, you name it.

I can imagine a person telling me that needing to be better than someone is a selfish and egotistical thing. It is important for self-esteem to feel good about something that you can do. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be better or the best at something. For me though, since I am so demanding of myself, and feel so inadequate, being the best is at once both what I am aiming for and what keeps me feeling down. Because I can’t be the best, I can only be me.

No man ever followed his genius until it misled him.
– Henry David Thoreau

Genius is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.
– Thomas Alva Edison

These quotes trouble me. The first one is very powerful but since I have no idea what my genius is [or, even if I possess one] then I cannot follow it. The second one troubles me because I don’t know if I’ve got the gumption to find out what my genius is. I don’t know if I’ve got the focus or determination to do the necessary 90% perspiration.

Basically, I’m in a conundrum of my own making. I guess I’m expecting these answers to just appear in front of me. I’ve been searching for direction for so long that I must have some strange sort of sense of entitlement to an answer, or at least a compass to lead me there. I’m lost in a desert and I don’t know if I have enough energy to get out.

Of course, I have things much better than many other people. I have a job, I have the best family in the world, I have friends who don’t mind me. I get enough to eat, and I am surrounded by people who challenge and enrich me. I’m healthy, I’m young, and I live in a world that has more interesting things in it than time to do them all. Maybe its not such a big deal that I’m not great at anything. If I took the time to try to be great at something, then I would miss out on something equally cool and vastly different. Does this mean I am content with being inadequate? ack!

7 thoughts on “Inadequacy

  1. My $.02:
    I think all of the folk that you mentioned in your list of better people could probably write a similar list of people that they believe are better than them in their given field. Even the greatest people in the world have heros or people who they look[ed] up to. Probably the biggest thing I learned to deal with at Notre Dame was that there was always someone better. That is not to say we should all settle for average or good enough, but you should also understand that to someone else you may be the best person they know at something. To someone else you may be the best poet, best fencer, best tech, best web designer, best artist, think, problem solver, etc. they know. You should take pride in your gifts and share them as best you can. Afterall it isn’t up to you to decide if you are a genius or not.

  2. you’ll never get $1.23 from me, copper!



    And it looks like it might have gotten lost in the shuffle of my random postingness, but while I do understand your point, I was trying to say that I want to feel like I am the best at something.

  3. i want to feel like i’m the best at something. the contributed greatly part would be nice too, but that takes a long time to do and isn’t for me to judge.

  4. And I don’t go for the line…”You’re unique — special!” What a bunch of BS. Like we’re all Einsteins and Mozarts. It’s just not true, Hell I can’t even spell!

  5. Are you wanting to feel like you’re the best at something, or like you have contributed greatly to the world in which you live? It could be either/or, or both. Just curious.

  6. i still think jmay has a good point – it’s not for you to judge. i can definitely relate to everything you’re saying, but at the end of the day you just have to do your best and let others figure out whether they like your output or not, or to what degree. “being best” is a very binary kind of thing. in the real world, these things are subjective and fleeting judgements. even in something as black and white as sports, if a team wins the world cup, there will still be discussions about whether or not they were the best team. years later perceptions may change. that’s my strategy: sure, i am not considered the greatest artist who ever lived now, but surely this mistake will be corrected sometime in the future! (won’t it? please?)

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