When You’re Too “Substandard”

Walking through the paths on Waseda campus, especially near Okuma Auditorium, you see people--either playing an instrument or wearing their sports uniform--handing out flyers, inviting you to their event. It doesn't’ seem to bother you, but then you think about how most of the students in Waseda are talented with what they do. Then, all of a sudden, you notice that it’s not only the Waseda students that are talented with numerous stuff that you can’t imagine doing, but everyone you know is actually talented with something! Yikes!

You remember your friend who’s blessed with a voice so angelic that everyone circles around her with eyes lit with adoration. You remember another friend who can speak multiple languages, and talks with everyone in the room, while everyone mutters sugoi or yabai multiple times.You see another friend’s Instagram account;an account full of her “doodles”, but those “doodles” already look like a masterpiece that took 3 months to make. You switch to Facebook and you see your other friend’s video of them dancing remarkably to the latest dance craze. Lastly, your other friend showed you the photos she took-- breathtakingly taken as if she were a professional photographer.

Photo by Skitterphoto

You then question if you’re actually good at something, or anything, in particular. You compare yourself to others too much. You don’t know whether you actually have something to show off to other people. Despite that, you have to remember (and internalize) four things:

  1. Other people have practiced for years to be good at something. The people you meet have reached that ability because they practiced really hard to achieve it. Yes, you might believe they are gifted and blessed with talent but remember, they might have been doing it for 10 to 15 years, and you’ve been doing it for a year, so you still have a long way to go to! 
  2. You have time. Yes, your friend has been practicing for 10 to 15 years, but remember, time and improvement go together, and the longer you practice something, the better you can be at what you do! 
  3. Do not be ashamed of what you know. I only know a little” shouldn't be your go-to phrase when someone asks if you know how to do it. "I know how to do it and I’m still improving” should be what you use. This phrase doesn't just make you feel relieved from the burden of someone’s expectation of being too good, but it gives an opportunity for you to show them what you’ve got!
  4. Do not compare yourself with others. Your friends are good with different things and If you keep comparing yourself to others, you won’t develop the confidence you need to show the abilities you possess. So, stop saying “I’m not good compared to her”, but say “I’m good at _____!” and show them what you can do!

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

If you still don’t know what you’re good at, because you’ve been comparing yourself to others, remember, you are good at something. Your friends are good with their own abilities because they've dedicated their lives to something they are passionate about it. If you know what you're passionate about, you shouldn't stop striving to be better at what you like just because someone is "better" than you. If you have to compare, don't compare yourself with your friends, but compare yourself to your old self and notice how much you've improved. You'll notice how far you've come, and you'll finally be able to be confident in what you're passionate about.