I remember sitting in my Korean language class for the first time in elementary school and feeling so inferior to all the other kids my age. We were all the same age, but why were they so much better than me at Korean?
Little did I realize that those kids had been attending Korean school since they were born, and for me, it was only my first time there. So, of course, I wouldn't be able to understand since I was never given the chance to learn.
This was when I first realized that I had a fear of being inferior to those around me. Not that I wanted to be superior over other people, but I just wanted to feel like I was good enough -- that my abilities could amount to something.
This fear was so overbearing and overwhelming that I tried my best to combat it by viewing those around me as competition rather than people who could support me and help me grow. This fear even earned me the title of "tryhard" or "overachiever," but I never felt like I was trying hard enough or that I was achieving enough if anything.
This is what some may know as "imposter syndrome," which is a psychological pattern in which a person doubts their success or accomplishments and has a "persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a 'fraud.'" Symptoms can include low self-esteem, anxiety, doubts, negativity, and feelings of inadequacy.
When I first got accepted to UCLA, I thought that there was a mistake in their system and that I couldn't have possibly gotten in. When I entered my first year at UCLA, I felt like this was validated when everyone around me seemed to be so much smarter than me.
I started to hate myself for being so inferior to those around me, and jealousy spread like a wildfire in my heart. I hated myself for being so lazy, and I told myself that I didn't deserve to be here. I realized that happiness was so fleeting, in that I would get a reasonably good grade on something or get accepted to something, but it just wasn't as good as what other people had.
Honestly, I feel like I'll have this fear for the rest of my life because we live in a society that compares looks, grades, success, and even personalities. However, I've come to know that it's okay to not be at the same level, mentally, physically, emotionally, and academically, like everyone else.
You and I are going to two different paces, and that's OK. We're all different people who've been raised differently and experienced different things, so how can we possibly be at the same wavelength just because we're at the same life stage or age?
Stop downplaying your abilities and accomplishments. If you mess up, just stand up and try again. It's OK if you take a small step forward while someone else leaps forward. Good for them, but also good for you for continuing to go forward.
No matter how long it takes for you to get to your ultimate goal, just continue to move forward and stay focused on that goal instead of comparing yourself to others. You'll be OK.