This is the first in our running feature of monologues, where people document their struggles in growing up in the Modern Age.
Ever since I was young, I’ve always felt inferior. To my peers, to my twin sister, to other girls on the street but most of all to my friends. At secondary school, I was in a tight knit trio of girlfriends who I loved to death but whenever I was around them I always felt like the odd one out. The famous expression is “three’s a crowd” and I always could relate to that – they were both beautiful with long brunette hair and confidence and flirtatiousness and all of the boys liked them; in comparison I was awkward and wore slightly too long trousers rather than a skirt and didn’t know how to speak to the opposite sex.As a twin, it’s easy to compare yourself to your sibling and my sister was part of the popular crowd and never went without a friend or boyfriend. A defining moment for me was when a new boy joined the year and, upon finding out who I was related to, exclaimed “Really? But she’s so hot”. It was about that time in my life that I realised I have an inferiority complex.
An inferiority complex refers to ‘a feeling of low self-worth or not living up to certain standards or expectations’ that may or may not exist. It’s extremely common – I know for a fact one of my best friends struggles with the exact same thoughts I do. It makes everyday life hard as every walk down the street, every class at school, even some conversations is a constant case of feeling not good enough. There are days when I have woken up feeling unstoppable, worn my favourite outfit and my makeup has gone perfectly, but merely stepping outside and seeing another person makes you feel like you just want to go hide your “ugliness” from the world. However, now with social media, figures of aspiration are everywhere – even in the safety of your own room, the place you go to escape your feelings. I have particular experience with this as I suffer from an eating disorder which I feel was triggered by me comparing myself endlessly to thin, toned, stunning women who I saw pictures of online. I wanted to be like them so bad that I stopped eating saturated fat and refined sugar, convincing myself over and over again in my head that it was healthy and I’d reach my goal, even while I was sitting in a doctor’s room with my heartbroken mother being told I was in serious danger of my body failing.
Instagram is full of girls with toned figures, beautiful eyes and perfect hair with thousands of likes and endless streams of compliments – “you’re my goals”, “I wish I was as beautiful as you” – even though these commenters are all stunning in their own unique ways. It shows that everyone has an inferiority complex – in fact, it is rare to feel totally self-confident. Some days I feel good – not beautiful but not ugly, not like I can conquer the world but that I can at least hold a conversation – and sometimes I feel like people are all staring at me and looking down on me for not being good enough. But those days of happiness are worth cherishing. Luckily I have an amazing group of close friends both at university and home who never make me feel insecure. They’re all not only beautiful but also warm and vibrant spirits and they make me feel like me being me is enough, and me is not only okay but good. It’s worth taking note of who these people are in your life and spending time with them as they see who you are beyond what you see of yourself.