(Graphic by Autumn Mariano)
(Graphic by Autumn Mariano)

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” is a famous quote by Eleanor Roosevelt that my mother used to say to me when I wasn’t feeling good enough. After a while, the words stopped having importance because I was a bratty pre-teen. However, as I have grown older and wiser, a more sophisticated version of myself has come to the conclusion that our former First Lady knew exactly what she was talking about.

I’ve struggled with an inferiority complex my entire life. As a child, it was because I was bad at sports and had a hard time with math, and all the “cool” kids were good at those things. As I got older, my inferiority became based on physical appearance. Now, as a young adult in the home stretch of my undergraduate degree, I am bombarded by even more opportunities to feel inferior. Everyone is doing so much and trying to be the best. It’s easy to not feel good enough–but you don’t have to feel that way.

Think about the words “not good enough” and then try and figure out what exactly “enough” is.

If you’re anything like me, enough doesn’t exist. For example, I wanted to be thinner because I thought that would make me a superior human being. So I lost a significant amount of weight. Did I feel good enough after that? No.

Enough is an invisible and unattainable set of expectations that I have created for myself. It’s something I can never live up to. So when someone says something mean to me, my brain automatically tells me, “If you were good enough, that person wouldn’t have said that mean thing to you,” and then I feel terrible.

I am, as the quote says, literally giving consent for my own inferiority. No one is making me feel that way.

In life, someone will always be better than you at something. If someone is superior to you in one aspect of life, that does not make them a superior person. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, and accepting them is the key to not feeling inferior.

I’m a very shy person, and I always felt inferior to the outgoing people around me. I’ve realized that being quiet is as much of a strength as being outgoing. By being quiet, I observe and listen, and this helps me excel in school.

Sometimes feelings of inferiority can be broken by making simple changes. If you feel inferior physically, start exercising and eating healthy food. If your grades are not as high as you want them to be, find a new studying method, or see a tutor.

Don’t let feelings of inferiority take over and cause you to miss out on life. I know from experience that this is something you’ll regret.

We have so many opportunities to take advantage of as college students and as citizens of this country. Never let negative feelings prevent you from doing something you want.

Life is too short to spend feeling small and insignificant. Swallow those feelings of inferiority, and make the most of your time on this planet.

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