“I am not my comparison”

I’ve never been satisfied with the way I looked. I’ve never confident in my ability to interact in social situations, the amount of close relationships I cultivated, the amounts and types of activities I was involved in. I’ve always questioned whether anything I’ve done, anything I’m doing, anything I will ever do will be known, remembered, praised, admired, or held up as any kind of example to others. And because I had already decided the answer was no, I never regarded myself as somebody worth much of anything, really.

Because there was always somebody better.

My negative outlook wasn’t for lack of trying. I tried (and again, and again), especially when I came to Duke, to get involved in what I thought would be the most influential groups, things that I expected would teach me to be a person with the tools for surefire success—a chance at being known or being extraordinary or at somehow being worth something to somebody, somewhere. Even myself would’ve been okay.

First semester, especially, I didn’t get them. I learned how to fail. A lot. Over and over again: and just when I thought I had it down, that whole graceful failure thing, and felt like I could go forth and conquer something, another opportunity would come along to hammer it back into my very being. It became the way I thought; I entered tasks with the expectation of failure, while my peers and close friends—everyone around me—traipsed through their own successes. They seemed to get exactly what they wanted, every time. They didn’t need someone telling them they were special or unusual or exceptional—they knew, and they were proving it to themselves, and to everyone else, every day.

And for me, this was more than a problem. I’m the kind of person that’s preoccupied with being as close to perfect as possible (with a disregard for my own or human/physical limitations). But for that I needed a measure, some method of tracking myself against the successes expected of me. And some might call that ambition, drive, dedication, whatever résumé fluff you want, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve compared myself to other people, trying to outdo everyone in all respects.

And what I’ve learned is that you just can’t outdo everyone (although that realization has never stopped me from wanting or trying to do so). My desire to be an embodiment of all the incredible things that everyone else is has left me searching for aspects of myself that are somehow special—in terms of them and their talents, not myself or my own. It’s a game that’s inescapable, and it’ll continue to eat at my mind and affect the way I think until I convince myself that I’m extraordinary all on my own.

Easier said than done, but I’m determined to make it work. I’m ready to find my passions, and uncover the coal that burns in the proverbial fire of my mind. I may not look like much, but with a little time and a lot of mental reorganization, I’m going to be somebody someday. Even if that somebody is just me.