I love people. I really do. For better or for worse, I’m friends with a lot of incredible human beings who do wonderful things and I love delighting in their accomplishments. I don’t think I would ever wish anyone ill in regards to their careers or hopes and dreams.
But I need to confront the fact that I let other people’s accomplishments make me think that I’m not doing enough in my own life.
I have an ambition complex. I have too many things I want to do, and not enough hours of the day. And that list of ambitions has literally no end, because every time I see someone else doing something cool, some weird switch gets turned on in my head and I go, “I can do that too.”
Maybe it isn’t an ambition complex, maybe it’s ambition envy. And maybe I’m a terrible person for internalizing other people’s capacities for brilliance and comparing them to what seems to be a meager little list of my own accomplishments. But somewhere between starry eyed, 11 year old Neiha deciding she was going to be the UN Secretary General and being the high-strung, constantly anxious overachieving 21 year old I am now, I started hating myself. And as I’m sure I’ve mentioned several times before on this blog, self-loathing and ambition do not a healthy smoothie make.
I want to blame something for this. A week or so ago, talking to my roommate about this very issue, I used the term “commodifying success.” It was a good term. Very clinical. Très académique. Mais, it completely ignored my own insecurities in favor of coming up with a metanarrative to explain away my issues.
Why am I never satisfied with myself?
If you’ve seen or listened to Hamilton, you know that iconic moment in Aaron Burr, Sir, where Hamilton describing the Princeton bursor says, “He looked at me like I was stupid, I’m not stupid”?
That’s been my issue my entire life. I will never be content until I stop believing people think I’m stupid. Every time I feel like I deserve to feel intelligent, I immediately lambast myself for my arrogance. I’ve been arrogant before, I refuse to be arrogant again, and in my very PTSD-addled mind the best way to fight arrogance is to viciously hate yourself.
I had a breakdown in the middle of the library quad last week because I felt like I was the most unintelligent human in the world. Because somehow, needing to take on student loans made me a failure. Because not being able to complete two majors, two concentrations and a minor within 8 semesters means I’m an idiot. Because there are people who are much better than I am, so who am I to think I’m smart when I play a couple hours of Civ 5 sometimes to relax?
I can’t just be good, I need to be fucking brilliant. And that wouldn’t be an issue if I knew where brilliance lay. Is brilliance burning out by 23 because you nearly killed yourself with anxiety over whether or not you were enough?
I don’t know. It sounds romantic enough to be brilliant.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever be enough for myself. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to look around a room and think “Wow, I’m one of these really smart, cool people.” I don’t know if my to-do list will ever end. There is so much I want to do. There are so many people I want to be. And my life is so short and bookended with mental strife that a day of calm like today feels a betrayal to my parents when it was every thing I needed.
I have an ambition complex. I also have a self-loathing complex.
At least I fit the tragic poet bill really well.
Note: this is not proof read yet.