A Self-Esteem Breakdown Using Simple Math and History

I am turning 25 in two days. Cool. No drama or fanfare. I’m not as depressed as I thought I would be; I’m not even depressed at all. This is a positive year and I’m keeping it that way. At the dawn of a new period in my life, I am trying to develop a realistic, positive frame of mind on a regular basis. I need to grow up, and much of the problem lies in my self-esteem. A large part of me has an extremely irrational inferiority complex, yet another part has a massive ego. Some small part of me sees things realistically and positively. It goes like this:

  • 48% Inferiority Complex
  • 34% Superiority Complex
  • 18% Realistic View of Myself

 

But let’s rewind a bit.

 

Ages 1-8

When I was a child, I was very intelligent and gifted in many ways. I was extremely critical of others and made it known to them I was the best. However, I had to deal with issues at home that skipped the point of humbling me, but rather sometimes made me feel like an idiot. It was hard to find a normal middle ground. So here is me then:

  • 21% Inferiority
  • 77% Superiority
  •   2% Reality

 

Ages 9-13

By the time I had been in school a few years, religion, K-8 Christian school, and social struggles finally started having a humbling effect on my personality. I tried to be a good person, I did my best to positively deal with negative family situations, and I enjoyed life. I won the school spelling bee a million times. I played so many sports and was good or decent in all of them. I kept myself busy and finally started making good friends. I had fun becoming a very slightly rebellious teenager and thinking I was so cool. In spite of my optimistic outlook, I did have a slowly building feeling that I was losing the advantage against others that I had as a younger child:

  • 30% Inferiority
  •   8% Superiority
  • 62% Reality

 

Ages 14-18

This lasted until high school. The public school real world was not exactly welcoming to a shy, insecure Curtis who had only ever operated in a bubble at tiny Christian Elementary School, and I never really adjusted. I had trouble focusing; I felt way behind others all of a sudden. I didn’t do that many extracurriculars, my grades weren’t as good as they could have been, I developed an abnormal social anxiety, and I had no luck with the ladies:

  • 82% Inferiority
  •   2% Superiority
  • 16% Reality

 

Ages 19-22

Hello, college, I’m not expecting much. Yet freshman year, a year I consider one of the best of my life, I met a group of awesome, ridiculous, hilarious friends (that I still hang out with to this day). I quickly was brought of my social shell. I found it easy to be myself because of the proximity to other people with open doors and because everyone was so eager to meet new people and enjoy themselves. I was somehow able to talk to and attract girls. People liked my quirky side, and I found a social contentedness I hadn’t felt in a long time; being awkward started becoming cool(er). I got pretty much straight A’s, but in my mind, that meant nothing. I told myself my classes were not that hard, or my school wasn’t prestigious, or I was lucky, or I was just a good test taker. So although I felt much better about myself socially, I didn’t expect to amount to that much because I was still behind where I should have been:

  • 42% Inferiority
  • 13% Superiority
  • 45% Reality

 

Age 23

I finally reach the point I have been dreading much of my life: the entrance point to the “real world.” I retreated, refusing to enter quite yet. I occupied myself with: things I don’t want to be doing, depression and malaise, boredom, spending money, graduate school, traveling, moving far from home, and a growing sense that something was amiss. I was able to quell the inferiority while in college because I was in the same boat as everyone else, but now many others were in a better spot in life. I developed a greater skepticism / cynicism of the world I found myself in. I knew I was just as capable as others at finding a job and a life path, but I felt there was a window that was getting smaller and smaller. I started losing much of my optimism, and I stopped really believing I was as fit for the world as others. Maybe they truly did have something I lacked:

  • 71% Inferiority
  • 20% Superiority
  •   9% Reality

 

Age 24

The world sucks. I hate where I find myself. I was meant for so much, and now look where I am. I don’t want to be doing any of the things I am doing. Maybe I can do something different. Something unique. Time is running out. I know I’m young, but I have wasted too many years drifting. A fire begins burning inside of my mind. Part of me is still depressed and cynical, yet part of me is developing a new personality, is optimistically preparing for something big in a pessimistic way, is hoping for a sign to figure out my calling in life. I find comfort in existentialism, spontaneity, and the pursuit of love. I make a ridiculous amount of changes and start doing some serious introspection. I pose deeper philosophical questions. I move far away from my new faraway home, closer to my old home. I start to believe I’m smarter and better than many others who might be at a better point in life right now in career terms. I’ve slowly accepted the fact that I am taking a different road, and part of me believes I am destined for something beyond the typical middle-class American life, or the typical college graduate life, or the typical finance graduate student life, or any typical life. But most of me lacks drive and hope. It’s getting too late in life to not have a clue:

  • 61% Inferiority
  • 27% Superiority
  • 12% Reality

 

Age 25 / Right Now

Now we’re back to the present. I’m more hopeful and much less negative, and the fire is growing because of this. As a reminder, here is my current assessment:

  • 48% Inferiority
  • 34% Superiority
  • 18% Reality

If you put things into perspective, I have made positive strides over the last year or two. I have a greater sense of who I am, and my overriding feeling of inferiority has decreased. Nonetheless, I still don’t even come close to having enough belief in my own abilities; I’m so hard on myself to be better that I forget to lay off when I do succeed – I avoid reality. I get mentioned in class for doing exceptional work. ‘So what, this class is not that hard, and I’m not at Harvard.’ Cute girls tell me I’m funny and handsome. ‘They apparently have bad taste.’ People tell me they like how I write. ‘They must not read good writing much.’ My friends are interested in hearing me talk. ‘They clearly think I am someone else. They have no clue how to judge character. What I say is unimportant.’ Only part of my mind thinks this stuff, but that part frequently overwhelms more realistic thoughts.

It’s okay to be hard on myself for the sake of motivation to achieve greater things, but I should not assume others are that hard on me. I need to draw a line between having a positive, realistic view of myself and having a tough, self-disciplinarian side that is never satisfied. I can push myself to be better while being positive.

A re-calibration has slowly been in effect, but there is much more to be done. I don’t know if the side of me who thinks I am better than everyone will ever go away, but as long as I remain humble on the outside and keep my pride in my head, I think it’s a good thing. After all, a little overconfidence is better than massive underconfidence. I am smart. I am intuitive. I am good looking. I am funny and clever. I am great at athletics and competition. I have a lot of positive things going for me that I absurdly take for granted. I shouldn’t have to write all this down just to prove it to myself. Here is the mix I would like to work toward in the near future:

  •   0% Inferiority
  • 30% Superiority
  • 70% Reality

 

I am actually starting to believe I have a calling. I am driving on a different highway than I expected, and I’m finally ready to face the challenges this road brings. Maybe the years of “wasting away” were added motivation to achieve something immense. I can only be held back by my mind for so long before I revolt; there’s a mutiny aboard the HMS Curtis and the authority figure being overthrown is Lieutenant Inferiority.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s