I have always doubted myself.
Well, maybe not always. But it feels like a very long time since I have not. It’s a painful dichotomy I grew up in. I was given ample encouragement to be independent, creative, make decisions but only as long as they were right and respectful and didn’t cause disappointment.
I remember the times I was punished, not being allowed to meet friends, no recreation, no comics, no candy. But the most painful of them all was hearing – I am disappointed in you. It was no longer just a matter of doing the right or wrong thing. Things which got you punished and things which narrowly saved you from it. Now, it was a question of ability. Not whether you did or didn’t but that you did and it wasn’t enough and maybe, you could never do enough because you are limited. You are not enough.
These words ring in my head at this moment, over and over – ‘I am not enough’. I haven’t been enough and I will probably never be. Not for anyone else and most importantly, not for myself. It scares me, it makes me anxious that I will never feel I was good enough for myself.
Before now I felt I was at least, gaining in philosophical intelligence. But right now, I highly doubt it. I am jealous and insecure and it is akin to being in a pit, both helpless and not wanting to be helped. How can I change that if I can’t accept what I exactly am? For the acceptance to seep in, I have to see myself honestly – the very mediocre, relatively below average person I am. Even writing these words makes me cringe because I am, in writing this, judging mediocrity. My hypocrisy and biases come through quite clearly and I am embarrassed and ashamed. In the past few years, I have come to understand more of the nature of human existence. And yet, I have not realized something very fundamental. I don’t know what it is.
I am surrounded by people who are multi-talented thinkers, high-achievers, amazing mathematicians, scientists and artists, all of them all of these by the way. Whole families of accomplished people, every generation pushing to accomplish more. From where I am, they appear to have been driven by the single-handed objective of the pursuit of knowledge, their intelligence a priceless inheritance from nature and augmented by undiluted focus. They are proud of themselves and the people they associate with. They seem to have a healthy sense of self.
I on the other hand, have grown up with the dream and constant assurance of being intelligent. All my endeavours have been tightly interleaved with paralyzing self-doubt. I am not the ideal height, weight or size, nor ideal in behaviour, growth, thought or actions, not in the ideal job, not the ideal family member, not the ideal potential spouse, … <Insert other mildly-sarcastic, highly-painful descriptions as you please, thank you>. In summary, not where and what I should have been had I followed the exact trajectory I had so easily conjured in my imagination. I probably am setting myself up to some high standard. But, am I ? Is it too high for me? Am I not good enough to aim that high? I am just running in self-destructive circles at this point.
So the logical conclusion is that I am not truly intelligent. I feel like a fraud. Impostor syndrome, you must have heard of it. They say people who are intelligent think they are impostors. Maybe. People who are impostors know they are impostors. I am one and I want to not be one. Sometimes, I want to not even be. Wallowing in self-pity, just a little bit perhaps, but I haven’t even mentioned all the blame I place on my parents and my upbringing yet. It will come sometime in the future, with full force.
I have no idea why I value intelligence as much as I do. I value honesty and integrity too, but intelligence more. I believe this was imbibed in me as a quality to cherish in myself and others, from the very beginning. So not possessing it, not practising it feels like letting my loved ones down. That they nor I would have any standing in society because I am not up to par. And that I am the one solely responsible for it.
Writing this in the heat of the moment has certainly helped. I hope it helps anyone else feeling this way. If you also feel this way, let me reiterate – no hugs for you because you aren’t good enough. Ciao!