Let’s be clear. That feeling of inadequacy that you’re constantly feeling right now, day after day? It doesn’t go away. Not after high school, not after college, not after you enter the workforce. Not necessarily because those insecurities travel with you and within you, like herpes. That concept is a myth perpetuated by those who would keep you docile.
It’s really because those same bullies who judge you today, and every day, they won’t just disappear. Sure tomorrow they’ll have different names, and different backstories…but they’ll still be ever-present, one way or another, ready to pounce at your next venue.
Some of you might pretend that you’ll be guaranteed more success than them, perhaps because of your personality, or your grades, or your work ethic. That the time they’re spending honing their cruelty will only accelerate their downfall …but this won’t be true. In fact, it’ll be quite the opposite. The confidence that they gain by assuming themselves “better than you” will equip them better for the leadership positions of tomorrow, while your modest demeanor will make you much better suited for…subordination. As the well-trodden worker bee.
And the verbal taunt you just heard beside your locker? You’ll still get them. The difference is that they’ll be a little more refined, or subtle, centering on your actions rather than blanket statements about looks or personality. Statements like “Your effort is worthless, do you even know what you’re doing?” may sound different than “You’re a fat pig”, but make no mistake. The core message has and always will be “I’m better than you.”
By the way, this won’t always come from enemies or strangers. Sometimes you’ll find those closest to you, those you trust the most, taunting the same taunts. Heck, maybe you’re already going through something similar, but find yourself too lonely to talk back to those you label your friends, or family. But man, those words tend to sting the most, when they come from a loved one.
Now here’s where I present the cure. The advice. Unfortunately, I’m no columnist. I’m an amateur. All I can say is that, from the perspective of a grown-ass man, occasionally still going through something similar to whatever you might be going through now, my personal strategy is to find whichever way, wherever possible, whenever possible, to work on that delusional sort of optimism which may or may not have kept me from slipping up in high school.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But after a long while, the frazzled reminders get a little less frazzled, as I continue telling myself to prove the others wrong.