Getting Over My Inferiority Complex
My friends are extraordinary.
That’s something I could say without it ever being untrue. From the bottom of my heart, I’ll always be happy and supportive of all of their endeavors and successes.
Every year, our school celebrates its students’ acceptances into different colleges. They put up photos of those fortunate enough to be accepted early. My friends and I lucked out and were among the first handful to be up on the wall, but I was the last in my friend group to receive a college acceptance.
The date we got our acceptance letters isn’t an indicator of our levels of academic or personal successesbut still, it began to feel like self-made competition between the few of us. Even though we are all good students, as soon as the college decisions rolled out, it was impossible not to compare acceptance rates and stats in our minds.
My friends and I are all good at different things. One of us excels at mathematics and physics; one of us is a talented artist with an exquisite eye for architecture; another is overflowing with musical talent; and I have a way with words. We were all going through the most rigorous high school diploma program, the International Baccalaureate. I was even taking it to a whole new level, working my way through a bilingual diploma. But it just wasn’t enough for me.
It took a month after my friend got her first acceptance for me to get my own college acceptance. That entire month, I found it very hard to accept myself and the person I was prior to senior year.
I couldn’t shake off the feeling that I could’ve done more. Why didn’t I do more sports in my four years of high school? Why was I only training for cross country; why not also basketball? Why didn’t I take up traditional high school kid jobs like babysitting? Why didn’t I apply to join the National Honor Society? I felt so incompetent. I wish I had the grades some of my friends did, and that I’d worked harder, and I hadn’t let my personal life affect me as much as it did. I had scenarios built up in my head about how I could’ve spent the past four years of high school differently. Maybe I would’ve been swimming in acceptances by now.
As happy as I was for my friends’ success, I couldn’t help but wish I had that kind of validation from colleges that would’ve prevented me from overthinking it. I knew I would’ve gotten into colleges one way or another. But after a while, this nonstop comparison weighed on me.
It wasn’t healthy.
When you're in high school, or even in college, a lot of times you just feel like a number. A SAT score, a GPA, an applicant number, the acceptance rate of the college you want to get into.
Somewhere along the way, it was as though all of my worth had just become numbers. In this season of acceptances and rejections, we feel like we’ve all been put under a microscope, examined for everything we do and how our accomplishments stack up. Under this extreme level of judgment, do we really need to judge ourselves too?
By Wen Hsiao, 18