The Easy Place

The Quest for Self Awareness One Moment at a Time

Feeling Like Not Enough

It’s human nature, I think, to pick out the most popular, successful or beautiful person in the room and compare ourselves to them.  To focus on what others have that we lack, what others are that we aren’t.  I hear it all the time, people diminishing their accomplishments by comparing them to someone else’s. 

As I write this I feel my heart start to thump, tears start to prick my eyes.  This is a painful place for me to visit, I spent a lot of time here in my youth.  When I was in my thirties I ruthlessly compared myself to my college friends who were all, in my opinion, vastly superior to me.  They had better jobs, were thinner, some had husbands, and all had more money than I did.  Never mind that I was raising a beautiful daughter in a cozy apartment that I loved, I felt inadequate when I was with them. 

RulersLooking back, I realize that there were a couple of things going on.  First, I was measuring myself using only half the ruler, the half that was above where I was. 

Compared to the general population I was doing quite well, I had a roof over my head, a wonderful daughter, and I lived in a safe community.  But I didn’t take that into consideration – my friends were above me on my scale so when I was with them I was a failure.

But even more important, I was only using one ruler to measure my success in life.  I was using the standard American success story ruler – the “2 ½ kids and a dog” American dream ruler.  But those guidelines are just that – guidelines, and life is frequently best lived outside of them.  I have an artist friend who took almost a decade to graduate from college, working his way through slowly, supporting himself with odd jobs along the way.  Unlike my college experience, which I zipped through as expected in four years right out of high school, his was full of exploration and growth.  When I graduated from college, barely out of my teens, I was lost.  When he graduated he was mature and focused, ready to start his career as a printmaker.

Measuring ourselves against others is always a bad idea, there’s no way to win.  And measuring ourselves against some arbitrary ideal ignores the contributions that diversity, growth and individualism make in the world.

Today I don’t have an “official” job, still no husband, and my income varies widely from month to month.  But when I sum up my life I now include the bliss of being able to do work that fills my heart, the love of my friends and family and the peacefulness of days spent trying to ease the burden of others. 

I find tears pricking my eyes again, this time out of gratitude.  Because not only do I have all these riches in my life, I’m now able to appreciate them. 


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9 responses to “Feeling Like Not Enough

  1. Jaky Astik August 12, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    I felt something like that when I couldn’t complete my goals. Then one day, I learned about the theory of scientific circumstantial evidence and something hocus-pocus happened with me. With that theory in hand, I just feel free and not compared and unique.

    Nice post by the way. Loved your blog, coach.

    • Melinda August 13, 2010 at 9:58 am

      Hey, Jaky!

      Thanks for your comments and I’m happy you like my blog :) You’ve got me curious about “the theory of scientific circumstantial evidence” where can I find out about it?


      • Jaky Astik August 14, 2010 at 12:01 am

        Well, I heard it from a yogi here in India. I can write a document about it if you wish. But basically, it says, whatever happens, happens because it was meant to happen. There was no better way for that thing to occur. So, it happened in it’s best possible way, causing the least destruction it could have caused otherwise.

        That’s the primary idea. But take a look deeply and I could actually write a whole book about it.

      • Jaky Astik August 14, 2010 at 12:07 am

        by the way, I featured your post on my blog for a day :) Hope you’ll like it. Keep the inspiration flowing. :)

      • Melinda August 14, 2010 at 12:41 pm

        First, Jaky, thanks for featuring my post :) I love the theory of whatever happens is supposed to – it’s kind of like the Buddist philosophy of “its not good, or bad, it just is.”

        It’s all about learning!


  2. Farouk August 13, 2010 at 12:18 am

    yes Melinda i Agree, you know what, a person will never feel satisfied if he kept comparing himself to others because at any point of time he will encounter someone who has more resources than him

  3. Victoria September 25, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Thank You for reminding me of this information!!!

    “It’s All Good” is a statement I keep in mind….

    Now…when or where is the post about…”what to do when friends compare themselves to you and they keep rating themselves higher or lower” ????

    Been struggling with that topic lately, more than the present post.


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