The Inferiority Complex

Today’s blog is brought to you by Laura’s nagging inferiority complex. As such, no joyous things such as beautiful kitties and questionable photography will be shared with you today. Instead, you get this.

I’ve been struggling a lot with my moods lately. I’m not sure if this has something to do with circumstances or whether it could be chemical. Either way, I’ve hit a huge motivational brick wall. I know things need to be done, but I can only manage a little at a time, and even that is taking up immense amounts of energy to accomplish.

Things haven’t been too rosy lately. I took a gamble when I left Sainsbury’s and unfortunately, it just hasn’t paid off the way that I’d hoped this time. As such, I have found myself back on the job hunt. Job hunting tends to do one of two things to me. Excites me, or depresses the crap out of me. I love reading the descriptions and mentally ticking off all the things I can do, but when it comes to the crunch, I rarely make it. Clearly, I am much better on paper than in person.I’m pretty sure this is in part, to do with my inferiority complex.

My inferiority complex. It is so familiar to me, it’s almost soothing in a weird mind-fucking sort of way. I can’t pin-point exactly where it began, but it began at some point in my teenage years as these things often do.

I hated school. I still to this day find the concept of school strange. It’s an establishment where you’re constantly judged by your teachers and your peers until the age of 16 for various different things, only to leave with some sheets of paper which kind of pat you on the back and say ‘Well done kid, you survived, now get the fuck outta here.’ That’s if you’re lucky, and of course, only the right sheets of paper will do.

Maths was my downfall. I really sucked at it, and it wasn’t for the lack of trying. I had extra lessons and my parents were even kind enough to pay for a tutor. Ultimately, this had no bearing on my mathematically illiterate little brain. I scraped a D grade. A pass apparently, but not one good enough to escape the pressure to retake or make you employable according to some. The weird thing is I can deal with numbers on their own. It’s when you start throwing letters in there too which frazzles me. It just makes no sense, I can’t take the information in or store it long enough to do anything with it. Years later when I was working as an exams invigilator, sneaking a peek a maths paper still struck fear in me.

Why am I rambling on about all this? Well, I guess it’s to make a point. Had I passed that exam with a C Grade, would my life have turned out differently? The answer to that question is almost certainly a resounding No. I still would have pursued creative subjects and careers, I still would have become what I am now, I literally would have done nothing differently.

So why does this matter? Well, recently, I’ve been filling out job applications which have asked for qualifications and grades. It’s been a while since I’ve contended with this as my previous few jobs have only really been concerned with my abilities to to the job, so it feels strange to have to rake up things which have long not mattered.

It’s weird how you can do whatever you want with your life, become as successful as you like (in your eyes or anyone else’s) yet you still cling to that one failure. The fact I suck so hard at this one thing makes me feel like such a failure, and there’s really no reason to feel that way. I still went on to college, I still went on to University, and I still went on to find meaningful employment. I even ran into my old Maths teacher about a year after finishing school. It was an awkward encounter, however rather than berate me for not getting that magic ‘C’ all he said was that 47% of people from my year didn’t get it either so did that make them all ‘thick’ as I had described myself? Of course it didn’t. I’d never even thought of it like that before, there were some really clever and talented people in my year group and I’d never class any of them as ‘thick’ because they may or may not have gotten the right grades.

I thought that as I got older, the inferiority complex would leave me, or at least become smaller. Small enough to ignore and try to push forward, but actually it has only continued to grow.

This year I turned 31. The world would have you believe that you’re meant to have your life together by this age, and I am far, far from it. That whole life plan checklist has well and truly fallen by the wayside.

Social media may or may not paint a very accurate picture of how the world really is, but it certainly doesn’t help when it’s so easy to edit your life. I’ve always been a big internet user, even before it was a ‘thing’. I’d spend hours online escaping from the people of the real world, but now all of those people are online too and adding to the inferiority complex. Mostly with their carefully taken selfies, images of a good clean eating diet, flawless make-up and of course those awful ‘inspo’ quotes. I really hate those things. It just makes things feel even more skewed than they did before. Let’s just all inspire to be everything!

This essay has gone way further than I expected it to. It’s weird that reading back over my own words, I am beginning to rationalise the things I’ve written a whole lot better. Maybe it really does help spilling some words onto a page. It can be a really hard being honest with yourself sometimes, I often feel like a failure, or that I’m not good enough, but in dragging up memories that stir  up an uncomfortable feeling, I’m also able to see that actually, it hasn’t all been bad. I’ve still accomplished a lot more than I ever imagined I would, even with the set backs that life has thrown at me and the miniscule amount of self-belief I’ve carried.

Deep down though, I will always just be the girl who couldn’t pass her Maths GCSE.



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Self-Conscious Photographer and Crazy Cat Lady from Birmingham, UK.

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