How to Cope With Feeling Like You’re Not Enough
When someone witnesses the success of people around them, you’d think that maybe they would compliment their work, feel excited and happy, or just find inspiration for themselves. You wouldn’t expect them to curl up into a ball, fall dramatically to the ground, and cry while whining for an hour. But, alas, that is what happened to me.
I was scrolling online one day, and then POW! Right before my eyes, I saw a girl who was totally gorgeous. She had Rapunzel hair and beautiful eyebrows. I was intrigued.
It turned out that she had started her own organization that was dedicated to social justice, and it was becoming nationally recognized. She had written very eloquent essays and achieved fancy academic awards. She was also hapa (part Asian) like me. Her friends seemed cool. The cherry on top of her birthday cake of success was that she was my age. It was amazing! It was incredible! The waterfall in my eyes started pouring down!
Whhhhhyyyyyyyy???? What am I doing with my life? I’m not like her! I don’t have that talent or hair or commitment! I can never live up to her! Do I even matter?
Pulling out my diary, I wrote these kinds of things, repeating them like a sad inadequacy mantra. It was like I couldn’t find anything good about myself (that wasn’t counteracted, i.e. "I’m a good person…but are my intentions as good as they should be?"), and I couldn’t find anything but good about her. My vulnerability didn’t even feel valid. Why couldn’t I just feel happy for her without it taking a toll on my own self-image?
Later, I told my mom about what I was feeling, and we both got frustrated. This was because she continued to say only nice things about me, and I felt like she was exaggerating. How could her idea of me be correct when our perceptions were so drastically different? Her: "You’re kind and beautiful and smart and wonderful!!!! You can do anything!" Me: "Actually, I act like a baby and I can’t do anything right."
Eventually, I found a professional who I could confide in about these things. These kinds of reactions didn’t completely disappear, but they slowly started becoming shorter and less potent. I’m still jealous sometimes, and I don’t always feel confident, but my feelings of inadequacy don’t conquer every smidgen of self-love like they did before. I am gradually trying to be more gentle and forgiving of myself.
There are a couple of reminders that have helped me heal. First of all, everyone (!!!) has looked at themselves critically at some point. Especially for girls, feeling insecure is deeply ingrained in our society and culture. Secondly, we’re all unique. Think about it. There is no one who has lived your life, with all of the experiences, details, and feelings that you’ve had. Therefore, no one can truly be a better version of you. You can be differently successful than someone, but a different kind of success is not the absence of success. There are many ways to feel heard and seen that don’t include getting national recognition. It can be as simple as feeling proud of something small you’ve done creatively, or accepting love from the people around you. I believe trying to be a good person is the most basic indicator of success.
Thing is, we don’t judge ourselves fairly. If we were to speak to ourselves the same way we'd speak to a good friend, we'd be a lot kinder to ourselves. Being kind does not mean being less truthful or real. People are sometimes so quick to judge themselves, even though no one is worth less than anyone else, regardless of their accomplishments.
We all, including you and me, are deserving of love, kindness, success, and happiness. We deserve to feel proud of ourselves. I believe in me and I believe in you! Acknowledging that you matter is a perfect start.
By Sophia Malatesta, 15