“You’re an exceptional student.” “The photos you take are incredible.” “You’re an amazing tournament organizer.” “I heard you’re great at Melee.”
These sentences exist on a list of a few compliments I often receive. They encompass much of what I invest my time into—playing Melee, organizing events, getting good grades. People who invest much of their time, their most precious resource in life, towards such tasks would normally feel happy about the feats they’ve accomplished.
To me, there is no pride when I hear these words.
It’s not shame either, although a hint may seep through when people do not respect how I’ve lived my life, how I chose to use my finite pool of time. Instead, the feeling is neutral, dismissive even. Sure I’m good at Melee, but anyone can be if they practiced as much as I have. My grades might be better than someone else’s, but what does it matter if you pass the class? At the end of the day we both get the same degree.
In my eyes, nothing I did to achieve my goals was impressive. Anyone can do what I did, I just chose to use my time towards those specific interests. In fact, I often believe people who say these compliments are smarter than me, since they used their time elsewhere instead of learning the intricacies of an old video game or getting a slightly bigger number on a transcript that ultimately doesn’t matter.
Most of the time I can’t shake the feeling that I do not believe I am talented nor special, that what people find interesting about me is commonplace. Everything I’ve done has been done better by someone else. Everything I’ve accomplished can be replicated, probably faster than how long it took me for I often make mistakes.
The only difference between you and I is what we decide is worthy of our time.
Despite how dismissive I am of my own feats, however, I’m enthralled when other people tell me about their passions and hobbies. I find it genuinely amazing when I hear the music my friends make, or see videos they create, the poetry they write. Their interest in math, chemistry, history, it shines through their words and I’m mesmerized by how knowledgeable they are, wishing I had taken a deeper dive into the subject like they have.
Not long ago I had a conversation with my friends about our interests and creative outlets. The contradictions of my own logic became clear to them—how I would compliment their works and struggle to do the same when my own were mentioned.
There’s many reasons that intertwine for why that is the case: my general lack of confidence, the self-deprecation and inferiority complex I’ve struggled with for years, the thoughts in my head pointing out all of the flaws with my work. The feeling that being satisfied is a sign of weakness, that it’s selfish, that it will lead to stagnation. How could I ever accept such kindness, not only from myself but others, when I barely understand what makes for a good photo or piece of writing?
Maybe it’s because I feel that my creative hobbies, ironically, lack creativity. Even if the photos look nice sometimes, the feeling that I simply point a camera at the world and click a button never goes away. There’s nothing special about writing blogs, it’s just putting words on paper.
However, my friend who is writing a book can’t say the same thing, because their endeavor is actually creative. It’s a task that requires making interesting characters, storylines, and motifs, all while threading them perfectly to construct a beautiful web. Of course you have to be creative to write a book, or make lyrics for a song, or draw art. Those things are original; a creation from the mind put forth into the physical world, something that couldn’t be shared if the person simply chose to keep it enclosed forever.
Perhaps more accurately, writing is creative, but there’s nothing special when I write. How I choose to write is putting words on paper, but for others it is art.
If only I knew what makes something art. Maybe then I could make something that I can be proud of.
When I started this website, I wanted each blog post to have a conclusion. It would be amazing for writing to spark change, mostly for myself but possibly others as well. Reflecting on my past to help me grow, both as a person and a writer.
Today, I’m not sure I can inspire that change within me.
Clearly this is an unhealthy mindset, one I’ve had for a long time. Yet it is very hard for me to change because this mindset is what has made me the person I am today.
Some of the post is in hyperbole. I tweet, sometimes quite often, about the accomplishments I’m proud of. Just recently I worked on LACS 4, the largest online Melee tournament of all time, and defeated some of my biggest bracket demons since I started playing Melee.
That isn’t to say my self-doubt doesn’t exist, because I believe much of these goals were achieved thanks to a great deal of luck. Although I may be considered skilled in a position like tournament organizing, I feel that such accomplishments are not a reflection of my skill because I know so many other people who are just as good, if not better than me at running events.
For me, I just happened to be at the right place at the right time. As I mentioned before, plenty of other people can do what I do.
However, I want to try and learn that just because I was lucky doesn’t mean that I’m not good at what I do. It’ll take time because imposter syndrome exists and I will always be my worst critic, but no matter how hard it may be, I’ll try to fulfill what I set out to achieve with this blog: I want to learn, and I want to improve as a person.
One day I hope to be proud of what I do. I think that life, for me at least, is constantly trying to make something I’m proud of, to achieve something that I can be remembered by and be satisfied with.
It’s a topic I’d like to fully discuss at another time, but for now I’ll leave with this: I’m happy that I got up today and finished this article. I’m happy to have friends who support me in my endeavors, no matter what those endeavors are and how often I feel foolish for having them. I’m glad that I know I’m not perfect, but still work on being the best I can be. I’m glad that I feel emotions, good or bad, because it reminds me that I’m alive.
I don’t exactly know how these things will help me yet, but I know that because they are true, they will get me to the places I want to reach in the future. They will help me create something I’m proud of. And for the time being, I can be satisfied with that.