As a student, when presented with an open-ended question such as “what do you feel inadequate about?” the correct impulse, drilled into my young mind, required me to restate the question as a statement and proceed into my answer. I honestly find that tedious as an adult though it may have been easier than a preamble.
I was once told to write with one specific person in mind.
I feel inadequate about a lot of things, some specific, some general. I’ve never been published, though I’m only 25 and want it and pretend not to care. I’ve felt love for a period only once, though I’ve had few opportunities. I don’t like the way I look in the mirror, naked, clothed, wet; though some days, I do. I don’t think I’m particularly smart or a hard worker, though my friends disagree. My impulse is to critique and I wish it was to celebrate. Something about being drilled at through education that my grade depended on “having a take” outside “I like it,” shrunk my mind to a pencil point so that when confronted with a soft, kind piece of paper, my affective and emotional graphite snapped, my pencil, too sharp to see how the paper enjoys themselves. That metaphor doesn’t make sense, rereading it. Needs revision. I am trying to analytically worm my way out of the feeling of being worth less than I often feel.
To be specific then, I’ll be general: I do hate myself most days. Often, I wake up and think about any possible mistakes I’ve made the day before, why does my bladder hurt so much, all I want is coffee, don’t speak to me before I’ve had my coffee, I don’t think I’ve slept well, even it’s been for the prescribed hours. My own thoughts are quite tedious and my rare sparks of what can be generously called “original thought” usually stand on the snapped necks of people I refuse to credit.
I”m afraid to write the eulogy I have to deliver.
I don’t know who taught me to think like this really. I have my guesses, it’s easy to blame family, or say simply, “we live in a society.” Mark Fisher suggested we think about feelings of inadequacy as a response to social phenomena with individual quirks and biologies: I have depression and anxiety like everyone else because of the caprices of late stage capitalist profiteering and exploitation that has led us down the path we currently stand on. We missed the last exit (we are on a highway, now) and it’s too late, but guess what? To my right and to my left are people who feel the same, with them we can, if we really try, build something together, something better, something that doesn’t make us feel like shit all the time. I do believe this is possible, except when I don’t.
I mean, I do know why I personally feel the next thing, I can name it no problem, but you’ll have to ask in person.
I don’t think I’m worthy of being called someone’s boyfriend or husband or partner. I’m not kind enough, willing to compromise, I don’t trust that the other person will do the same, I’d much rather fight for my little plot of land where I can drink tea all alone adjacent to someone else’s equal plot and occasionally, I’ll invite them over to my side and slob a kiss.
I don’t think you asked the right question. It’s trite, but a better question, perhaps, a more fruitful question, though to be fair, I would have balked at it, called it saccharine, told you it wasn’t for me, lost trust in you: Matt, why don’t you feel joy?