By Kenesha Collins
I’m cursed. Not cursed in the sense that a witch put a spell on me, but there has been something nagging at me since I was 7-years-old. The never ending need to be liked, loved, and appreciated. It has .plagued me since childhood I’m still fighting it even at 39-years-old. Some days I lose the fight.
The quarantine has provided a time of self-reflection to my detriment. I’ve had nothing to do but think. My book has helped me use situations in my life as motivation when constructing my characters. Deciding to write a book also forced me deal with years of procrastination and questioning my own abilities. In life, there are times when you may feel inadequate especially when you’re attempting something you’ve never done before. In my case, not facing these feelings head on cost me more than I could ever imagine. I missed out on major opportunities and potential great loves.
You might want to pause reading this and get a beverage of your choice. I’m about to tell you a story.
During my senior year of college, I worked as a writer for a publication created by the public relations department on campus. I met this handsome, tall, and funny guy who also worked on the publication. For privacy reasons, I will refer to him as Troy. Troy did the graphic design work for the publication. He also played college baseball. Overall, Troy was the total package. We really hit it off as friends. His then girlfriend was cool and an acquaintance of mine, but we weren’t close friends. She was also a star at my college. She was a popular, smart sorority girl who was always the center of attention. They seemed like a perfect match. After graduation, she got a great job and moved away.
Troy and I remained good friends after school ended. We would call each other all the time. We would talk for hours on the phone laughing and cracking jokes. He would tell me about his relationship concerns. He and his girlfriend were drifting apart due to the distance between them. I would tell him to work through the issues and that change isn’t easy. Eventually, the stress of having a long-distance relationship took its toll, and they broke up.
Months later, my friendship with Troy grew closer. We were the best of friends, but I never considered dating him. One evening on the phone, Troy and I were reflecting on our friendship. We talked about what a great connection we had. Troy hinted around to taking our friendship to the next level. At first, I thought he was joking. Finally, Troy plainly suggested we should start dating. I reluctantly said yes, but I didn’t take it seriously. I felt Troy was way out of my league. I considered it to be a major downgrade for Troy to go from a college sorority queen to me.
The guy that lived in the apartment next to me also constantly asked me out, flirted, and showed interest. A few weeks later, the neighbor asked me out on a date. I felt he was more on my level, so I said yes. I eventually married that neighbor, and years later we got divorced.
The moral of the story is if I had known I was good enough for Troy back then, perhaps we would have gotten married. We might be still married to this day. Our connection was strong. I don’t regret marrying the person I did. We had a beautiful love story. I just wished I had a different mindset when it came to my own worth. Deciding not to pursue a love interest, job, or passion because you don’t feel worthy is an inferiority complex.
An inferiority complex is a feeling of inadequacy that can stem from childhood or negative past situations. During my own childhood, for the most part there was positive reinforcement. However, often it was highly critical. Mistakes were highly frowned upon. Sometimes it felt like the world was going to end for the smallest error in judgment. Eventually, I began falling all over myself desperately trying not to make a mistake. For years, the harder I tried, the more trouble I got into.
I had other hang-ups too. I constantly needed validation or confirmation on big moments in my life. If someone close to me didn’t tell me to move right or left, I wouldn’t act at all. It resulted in complacency throughout the years. In relationships, I used to say certain people were “too good” for me. I would shy away from people I felt were too smart, handsome, or successful. Basically, I was a mess. I wish I could go back in time to my 24-year-old self and scream in her face: YOU ARE ENOUGH.
I owe the person I am now to time, counseling, and self-acceptance. If you’re like me, there are hundreds of times you could have taken a leap of faith but didn’t feel worthy. Perhaps you feel that way now, but don’t know why. Do you ever ask yourself the these questions?
Who do I think I am trying to accomplish…?
Why would he/she be interested in me?
How would I ever be able to do…?
If you’ve ever refrained from dating someone, going to certain places, or pursuing certain goals because you didn’t feel good enough, you may have an inferiority complex. In today’s society, physical appearances are so crucial. It can be overwhelming when perfect faces are splashed across every source of media. Don’t get me started on social media. The people will never tell you how many pictures it took to achieve that one perfect frame.
When it came to my physical appearance, there were several things I’ve never liked. Those negative feelings I had about the way I looked began to changed when I reached my late 30’s. I started to make peace with myself, and appreciate my own reflection in the mirror. I accepted that the way I looked is never going to change unless I opted to get cosmetic surgery. No offense against anyone that has had procedures, or is considering it. It’s just not for me. Also, it didn’t matter the changes I made to myself. I would always be me, and I had to be okay with that. I’m not saying I’ve got it all figured out. I slip back into the mindset of that insecure, scared 24-year-old girl more times than I’d care to admit. Eventually I tell her to shut up and keep it moving.
Rebuilding my self-esteem was the biggest obstacle. I had to stop constantly looking for affirmation, compliments, and praise. Often the only person around to tell me I’m great was myself. I had to become my biggest ally, and dare I say it, but my own best friend. Now, if I get a compliment, I can graciously say thank you without fishing for more to stroke my fragile ego.
Over the years, I’ve gone to counseling when I’ve needed an emotional check-up. Counseling helps because you’re able to talk to a skilled unbiased party. You can also learn more about the different parts of your personality.
If my story sounds like yours, just know you are not alone. This may surprise you, but there are people that have a way better opinion of you than you have of yourself. They may admire you from afar, and wish they had half your talent and looks.
My advice is to give yourself a break. Don’t let inferiority cause years of regrets, missed opportunities, and cost you beautiful moments. I think about Troy at times. I remember our belly laughs and deep conversations. We’re no longer friends. We drifted apart over the years. I get a little sad when he crosses my mind. I will always wonder what could have happened if I wasn’t that insecure, scared 24-year-old girl.