The ups and downs of feeling inadequate
by Valerie Khoo
I’m not going to lie. Being plagued with feelings of inadequacy occurs relatively frequently in my life. In fact, it happened last night. I was watching an incredible cellist on YouTube (Slovenian-Croation cellist Luka Sulic, of 2Cellos’ fame, in case you’re interested) and just sat there in awe of his skill and creative expression.
While marvelling at his talent, I felt an all too familiar sensation overwhelm me: that feeling that you’re just not good enough. This is often accompanied by an inner monologue and goes something like this: “Why aren’t you more talented?” “Why haven’t you reached that goal yet?” “Why are you taking so long to get anywhere?”
It’s the perfect example of the fine line between pleasure and pain. The pleasure of appreciating someone’s amazing creative expression, coupled with the pain of inadequacy that your talents don’t (and likely never will) even rate on the same scale.
Don’t get me wrong. This is not jealousy. Fortunately, I quashed that feeling out of my life a long time ago. In fact, I remember the exact moment. I was nine years old and was at the Camellia Gardens in Caringbah in Sydney. I had entered some competition and did not win. When the winner was announced, I experienced an overwhelming feeling of jealousy. It was the most horrendous and unproductive feeling that I decided then and there that I would never let myself feel it again. And I haven’t. Ever since. (Which is a testament to the fact that your mind can control your emotions, if you let it, but that’s a whole other story!)
But back to watching last night’s cellist on YouTube. These days, I’ve gotten used to these feelings of inadequacy. In fact, I just think they’re normal now! And the key is to just accept that they will just return from time to time – and just push through. Keep going. Keep creating, Keep painting. Keep writing. Persist with whatever it is that feeds your creative soul. Because what’s the alternative? Dwell on them and allow them to debilitate you? That’s not useful!
Maybe you relate to what I’m talking about. Or maybe you’re like a friend of mine. I was talking to him the other day and he confessed that he never experiences feelings of inadequacy! I was floored. Oh to have that chutzpah!
For now, when that feeling creeps back into my life, I treat it almost like an old friend. Someone who is not always welcome but who I’ve realised always manages to bring with them a sublime experience that also fills me with awe and wonder.
In other news … here’s what I’ve been doing:
Watching: Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+ starring Ewan McGregor and a host of recognisable faces like Rupert Friend and Joel Edgerton. It’s set in the period before the original Star Wars movie, when Princess Leia was a precocious 10 year old. I confess: I binged it.
Looking forward to: Seeing the aforementioned cellist when he comes to Sydney in November!
Excited by: One of my most favourite things to do in the world is to empower and equip women with the tools they can use to uplevel their business … and their life. So I’m pretty excited to be working with Suzi Dafnis and her incredible team as a facilitator and mentor at The Reach Retreat. It’s usually on every year in Hawaii. And after the recent pause in travel, it’s back for 2022, I can’t wait. It’s an incredible experience in one of the most beautiful places in the world. You can find out more here.
Pondering: I’m thinking of getting a breadmaker. If you have any recommendations (or warnings against ones that didn’t meet your expectations), I’d be really grateful to hear them!
Painting: Everlight (pictured above and below) is a large-scale peony artwork. This took forever to complete but I loved every petal, every stroke, every minute of it. Sometimes, things just flow. If you’re interested, you can view a selection of available paintings here.
Until next time, have a creative week!