January 13, 2017 Leave a comment
Not being good enough is a raw nerve for me. Sure, it probably is for you too. For most people even. (Not for Donald Trump).
But that sense of not quite cutting it, not being up to a standard, and it being told to you or even gently suggested to you, it burns. It burns deeply for me for a few reasons. The giant elephant in the room of my lonely consciousness never lets me forget I am a disappointment, first and foremost to myself.
I had opportunities, I have a brain, I had a fairly middle class upbringing, an able healthy body, regular social skills. Today I am 36 and struggling to scrape a minimum wage level income, never sure what lies ahead. I should be better than this. I should be able to provide and support a small unit. I can’t fathom or accept what I perceive as a lack of success or achievement or stability.
Sometimes it’s attributed (by me) to not ‘playing the game’, brown nosing as I should, seeking out affiliates or mentors, not explicitly going out and seeking approval. This feels lazy, like I think I’m some stylish maverick renegade. Which I am not.
Other times, and it’s as lazy as it ever was to express it on these pages, as I have done countless times, but I do not think my brother is devoid of influence. As kids he was always miles better at everything, being two and a half years older. And he gloried in his superiority, revelled in it, figuratively pushed my face into the dirt whenever the chance arose. I could never say or do anything in response to make any impression. My existence felt laughably trivial, and to an extent still does. He lunches with high powered politicians for his work, reads big historical tomes for pleasure, thinks he has the measure of everyone’s amusingly simplistic political stance within seconds, views himself as apolitical. I grew up knowing that nothing I could do would ever compare to his achievements, and it hasn’t. And it feels like I haven’t cruised at a steady altitude in his atmosphere. I’ve just scudded and scuffed right along the bottom, like someone landing a parachute in a gale.
When it’s reasonably suggested to me by colleagues that I might not be up to a job, there are other better options, naturally it chafes. (Fuck you, man! Who are you to say I’m not… not… no, hang on. Wait there. Yeah, ok that makes sense actually). It takes me back. They’re right, of course. I am shit, especially compared to those other better people. I will always be shit. I have fumbled along, eschewing further official qualifications, proper training, even much advice. I continue to make it up as I go along.
And I know we all do to greater or lesser extents. But still. Look at me, 36 and not a fucking clue where I’m going. How I’ve stumbled along to this point with a good house, nice supportive wife and hugely therapeutic dog I have no idea. It’s totally unjust and I do not deserve it.
What IS being good enough?
Will I ever feel like I do deserve it? What is being good enough anyway? Being good enough to me is, I suppose, having some security in your income and future, knowing you are roughly set, and that you’re consistently working hard, day-to-day – even if you hate what you’re doing while you’re doing it. At least you’re producing and contributing with meaning and getting reasonably paid for it. You can live with yourself at the end of the day if you’re doing that. You’re not sitting on your arse staring anxiously into the internet for too many hours a day. But if you haven’t done that, if you haven’t done much of any value or worth or profit, if you have stared anxiously into the internet for too many hours of the day, if you have spent far too long composing yet another whiney wibbly poor-me post for your dickhead anonymous blog thing, and then you go to sit down on the sofa at the end of the day, you feel like a total goodfornothing useless fraud.
Strong discipline and high volume. That’s what is demonstrated by people achieving professional success, whatever their line. I have discipline and I can work hard enough to generate volume. But it’s never structured. It’s never consistent. It’s always bobbly and littered with frustrating ruts. I wonder if I am just a little too lazy, just a little too easy to make a coffee, read a book, walk the dog a little longer than I should, hope I get an email or a call, trust in a turn of luck.