Psst. I have a secret to share with you. I’ve spent a good portion of my life not feeling good enough. Not every day, some days I feel wonderful, but I’ve spent a woeful amount of time desperately wondering why I’m not yet at the top of my game. And I’m betting there are quite a few of you out there who feel inadequate too.
Everyone doubts themselves sometimes, but whether it’s in your career, your love life, your family life or anything else, feeling unworthy or less than others can really hold you back. It can stop you from asking out that person when they might have said yes, or from sending off that manuscript when it might have become a bestseller, or just from feeling happy when you have achieved something incredible. So if you’re feeling a little (or very) insecure, what can you do about it?
Stop comparing yourself to others immediately. You are a unique person with a set of skills and circumstances that can’t be replicated and so are they. The person you envy may be just as insecure as you deep down, they may have other issues you wouldn’t trade for your own or be really jealous of some of your qualities, they may be years further along than you and the comparison just isn’t fair.
If you’re feeling inadequate in any way, tune out of what others are doing for a while and focus on you.
My dad used to say it takes years to boil a frog…
I have a good friend who’s single. She constantly asks me why she isn’t married yet. She’s my age (26) and she feels that way partly because I got married so young. I explained to her that getting married this young is the exception rather than the rule, it’s definitely not right for everyone, and to be patient.
This partly goes back to the comparison thing. We see others achieving things quickly and don’t understand what we’re doing wrong. For example, in our careers, we can’t all be Mark Zuckerberg. The majority of us take a while to get where we’re going, to master our crafts and find the right opportunities, and patience is key.
Aiming high is one thing but expecting too much of myself is another. If I expected every single blog post I wrote to go viral, I would be perpetually disappointed and start to feel pretty rubbish about myself. If you think every date is going to be “the one” then you’ll end up feeling like you’ve lost the love of your life after every short relationship. Keep your expectations in check and don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go as fast or the way you want them to.
OK, OK I can hear the screams of “but you just said be realistic”, but hear me out. Realism and optimism are not mutually exclusive.
Firstly, by being pessimistic, you are ignoring all you do have. OK, so I’m not the editor of Vogue, I don’t have millions of daily readers yet, but I do have thousands of people who read my writing every day, I make a living from what I love and the rest of my life is pretty darn satisfying.
Secondly, I believe you create your reality, believing you can achieve something is not the same as expecting you should have achieved it by now, or should be achieving it every day. If you don’t believe you will ever get there, you won’t. Simple. Why? Well, that leads me to my next point…
If everyone gave up when they saw the size of the mountain, nobody would ever get to the top
If you a.) think you’re fundamentally inadequate because others are doing better than you, b.) think you should have achieved what you wanted to achieve by now c.) think every day should be the most successful day of your life and d.) start to believe you’re never going to get what you want, and don’t feel good about your achievements when you reach milestones along the way, then you’re making it bloody hard for yourself to hang in there, aren’t you?
JK Rowling was rejected from umpteen publishers before Harry Potter was picked up and became arguably the world’s biggest literary success. If she had believed all of the above, would she have had the confidence and tenacity to keep going?
Everyone in the world feels like they’re not good enough at one point or another, but don’t let that feeling overwhelm you. Even if you hammer away for years, even if you try every day and it feels like the world’s longest marathon, never lose sight in the belief that you will get there in the end.