I belong to a forum, and a lady posted there today about feeling inadequate, about how her ex partner had told her that he loved her but that he needed her and 20 other women to be fulfilled. Which got me thinking about feeling inadequate. It’s a feeling I am very familiar with. I have felt inadequate in one way or another for most of my life. I can remember one of the girls I was friends with in primary school, she had long flowing hair that her mother had never cut (my hair was always short because my Mum hated dealing with long hair) and could play the piano beautifully (I wanted to play the piano but it wasn’t something that I had ever told my parents). I felt positively inadequate next to her. These days I feel inadequate next to one of my favourite girl-friends. She is a single Mum to 4 kids and makes it look easy (meanwhile I am over here tearing my hair out most days), decorates the most beautiful cakes, achieves spectacular marks at uni and is generally an all around badass. Next to her I feel small.
Inadequacy for me manifests as feeling shy because I am pretty sure that no-one is going to want to talk to someone as boring as me. It manifests as feeling stressed because I am pretty sure that I can’t do that new task in front of me. It manifests as feeling small next to my friends who are more accomplished. It manifests as feeling jealous when The Tinman talks about his new woman (The same woman he left me for, hereafter referred to as The Other Woman or OW for short!) in glowing terms and compares me MUCH less favourably (she is a WORKING single mother, she is doing her masters compared to my undergrad, she has a nicer car, she is thinner, she is cuter). It manifests as shame when I think about all of the time that I have wasted and the bad choices I have made in life.
When I look at it in those terms I think that if I feel inadequate it’s because I’m not fulfilling myself. I have these expectations of myself that I don’t live up to, these gaps in my personality and in my life that make me feel deficient. Since The Tinman left I have been focussing on filling those gaps. Before he left I had been attempting to fill them with his presence. For a lot of years I staved off these feelings of inadequacy because if he loved me then surely I was OK right? When the inadequacy would pop up I would express it by saying I felt “stuck” or like I was stagnating. But the thing is he never really filled those gaps, I was always left feeling “less than”.
So now I am filling my own gaps. I am doing that by exploring all of the things that I was gonna do while we were together. The things that I told him I wanted to do but that for one reason or another I was unable to do.
- I was gonna try burlesque, so I did! It was the first class I signed up for, I found that it was a bit slow and not really for me.
- I was gonna learn to ice-skate, so I did! It was cold but fun. However I am still scared of skating backwards so I can’t see a career as a figure skater in my future.
- I was gonna try pole dancing, so I did! I love it and will be going back to it when I can free up the money and some time (since I completed the 1st course I have added a half marathon training and TAFE to my plate… I’m all outta time!).
- I was gonna run a half marathon, I have it picked out and am starting training on Monday.
- I was gonna do a life coach course, I am signed up and start next month.
- I was gonna go back to uni, I did that 5 weeks before he walked out and am about to start my second year in a little under a month.
I am deliberately growing myself out of feeling inadequate. I’ve come to realise that when I feel inadequate it’s because the person I feel inadequate next to has something that I want or they can do something I want to do; and I can react to that in 2 different ways:
- I can hate them for having/doing that thing, I can run them down and bitch about them and be mean. I can walk around them and continue to feel inadequate and negative.
- I can work on getting that thing for myself.
I generally choose the latter. Although not always, sometimes I wallow in the inadequacy for a while and sometimes I push it aside and ignore the feeling. But I am determined to do more of the getting and less of the last 2 from here on out. To pursue the things that interest me and to just give things a try.
My last cake decorating attempt was an unmitigated disaster:
But I did it! I decorated that very ugly cake all on my own. The next one will be better and hopefully the one after that will be even better. I doubt I will ever get to professional status but it’s one of those things that I am teaching myself, that I wanted to learn. Likewise the running a half marathon is one of those things that I wanted to do. That I am determined to complete.
I am only as inadequate as I decide to be. I only have gaps if I choose not to fill them.