Inadequacy

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 Replies

  • 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.

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

    myeah!

    _____

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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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