As you grow older and older, your life becomes less carefree. Alongside the stack of things to worry and reflect on, you also begin to feel the pressure from society. Don't you feel as if something is wrong with you when you do not fit into the norms and meet others’ expectations? You start to feel insecure when you are still single at a certain age. You face dissatisfaction about not having a large social circle. You do not enjoy the nightlife as much as a typical young adult would. You do not adhere to the pop culture. The list can go on forever. In the end, you become more self-conscious about your differences and your flaws, accompanied by this recurring thought of, "Why am I not good enough?"
As I am writing this article, I question myself, "Am I even good enough to be writing?", considering that I neither have a degree in literature nor psychology. Even though I'm not a professional, I love to write so there is room for me to make mistakes and learn from them. You never learn when you don't try, right? Sometimes, your mind makes you see the invisible red flags – every possible thing that can go wrong – so you hold back succumbing to your fear of failure and decide not to pursue your passion. However, failure is inevitable in every step of life. You do not necessarily have to be an expert to do something you love; you just need to give it a try.
If you let the fear of not being good enough shield you, you will constantly feel that you should do better and that you don't measure up in your own mind. Consequently, you will end up picking on your weaknesses rather than embracing your strengths, or your talents. Talents do not always have to be "Asia's Got Talent" or "X-factor" material; they can also be minimal things that are your specialties. For example, you can have exquisite handwriting that even beats the computer fonts; you can sketch imaginative and witty cartoons that amuse everyone; you can make simplified study notes that your friends enjoy borrowing, or that you can remember people's names very well. Such things may not sound substantial as belting out Adele's song flawlessly, however, they still should be acknowledged. Because these small things that you do not appreciate enough make you who you are.
Recently, I had just discovered my hidden "talent" until some of my friends pointed it out for me. It was that I could use chopsticks proficiently with both hands. Long story short, I was born left-handed but my mum made me eat with my right hand from a young age. (I failed in learning to write with my right hand, though). Every time, I felt incompetent or insecure when I subconsciously compared myself to others or could not accomplish something that others were effortlessly good at, I would think, "Well, there are some people who struggle in using chopsticks, but I can use them well even with both hands!" It might sound pretty silly and perhaps self-absorbing, but it somehow gave a little pat on my shoulder and reassured me with, "Hey, it's okay. You have your own strengths and weaknesses. You are who you are, and that’s good enough."
Among all the negative feelings that you encounter throughout your life, feeling as if you are not good enough often hits you in the gut and makes you wish that you had a reset button in your life so you could start all over again. Comparing oneself to another, as a yardstick to measure your ability, or accomplishments is a fundamental concept of the human mind – there is no way to completely eradicate that human nature. However, it can be of great help, because you can grasp inspirations from the person you are measuring yourself against and attempt to improve yourself. In some cases where you are doing better than the person you are comparing yourself to, you will feel satisfaction, reassurance, or even a boost of self-esteem. Comparison is harmless until you start to take it to the point of feeling overly competitive or habitually inferior as you become extremely critical of yourself.
Some of us grow up, embedded with the toxic comparison mindset because our parents are prone to comparing us with other kids. Even when our parents are not around to compare us, the little voice inside already does it for us, “ Person X is achieving this, and Person Y is completing that. But you are useless." This really messes with our heads, because we subliminally identify people who are within our age and social circle, or those we can closely relate ourselves to as threats or competitors. Whenever they are attaining success, we end up spawning envy –a form of resentment, cultivating our insecurities, and allowing our self-esteem to sink. If we instead extend our genuine admiration, wholesome support, and pure joy for their success, we will feel at peace. Honestly, that is a win-win situation for all. Supporting another or celebrating one's victory will not undercut our own triumph as long as we focus on our own paths and do not get distracted by where others are heading.
After all, everyone is on a different timeline. Their time may not be your time; your moment may not be their moment. Therefore, whenever you feel like you don’t matter at all and you just want to disappear, remember that your big moment or your time to shine has yet to come and you do not want to miss out on it. In terms of physics, "matter" is everything around you – anything that has mass and takes up space. You yourself are a matter, just like trees, flowers and, rocks. You yourself matter. And, if anyone has not told you that yet, I would like to tell you here, "You rock, you matter!"
McBride, K. (2014, October 13). Do You Feel Not Good Enough? Retrieved from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-legacy-distorted-love/201410/do-you-feel-not-good-enough
Sonnier, M. (2014). 7 Things to Remember When You Think You’re Not Good Enough. Retrieved from tiny buddha: https://tinybuddha.com/blog/7-things-to-remember-when-you-think-youre-not-good-enough/
Webber, R. (2017, November 7). The Comparison Trap. Retrieved from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/201711/the-comparison-trap