Everyone is perfect (except me)

Explaining my struggles with insecurity

Anika Sharma

One day in sophomore year, my P.E. teacher took us into the wrestling room and gave us a presentation on some of MV’s notable alumni. I don’t remember what the point of the presentation was or even why we were having it during P.E. But I do remember that one alum in the presentation was the first surgeon to perform open-heart surgery on a baby. I also remember thinking, ‘How am I going to live up to that?’.

Before entering high school, I was faced with a cascade of warnings that MVHS was competitive, mainly from parents and one college counselor who heavily suggested that I transfer to Fremont before it was too late. But I didn’t listen, and for the first three years of high school, I felt fine — occasionally insecure, but generally self-assured in my place as a high school student. But the beginning of senior year brought forth a sudden barrage of feelings of inadequacy. Distance learning made me forget how insecure I was going to school every day and the sting of listening to classmates complain about having a 90% in AP Statistics, while I don’t know what the hell a z-score is anyway. 

Sometimes, while walking through the brick hallways of the A building or across the academic court, I look around and I believe that many of my peers are going to be computer scientists, engineers or, doctors and a few of us are even going to be successful designers or artists. But when I look at myself and I think about the kind of career I may want, one day I come up short, and I’m left wondering what I’m going to do with the rest of my life.

Graphic by Sophia Ma

College apps certainly haven’t helped and even added fuel to the fire. All my friends seem to have big dreams, with Ivy Leagues on their college lists and UCs as safeties while UC Riverside is one of my reaches. Over the summer I had to write an essay about overcoming a challenge, and I wrote about how I overcame self-inflicted comparison but I eventually scrapped it after realizing I was far from overcoming insecurity. 

My sense of inadequacy became so overpowering that, even my extracurriculars didn’t make me happy anymore. I failed to get on rifle line and I felt wholly inadequate as if after three years on color guard, I hadn’t progressed at all. 

In the past, if I received a bad grade on a test, I’d tell myself that “‘I’m still the same person who got an A in Honors American Literature”’ or when I felt unmotivated, I would tell myself that I’m still the same person who’s so good at saber tosses, I never drop them, even when I’m exhausted. 

But with this new onslaught of inadequacy, I didn’t know what recent accomplishments I could reference to overcome it. I didn’t get onto rifle line, I have a C in AP Statistics and I’m not even going to bother applying for Early Decision.

I know that what can look like perfection on the outside does not necessarily translate to the genuine experiences of a person. But all I have access to is the outer image of my peers.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from the return to in-person school coupled with college applications, it’s that it’s not fun waking up every day and feeling like a failure. It’s even less fun feeling like there’s nothing you can do about it. 

Frankly, I don’t know what to do to feel better about myself. I’m still in the middle of wrestling with insecurity, and so far, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. But in the meantime, I’m still the same person with all those accomplishments in the past. So while and even if I’m buried under insecurity now, there are other areas of my life I can derive meaning from. Focusing on my passions like art and makeup and channeling that into pursuits that bring me pride, such as my design portfolio, is one way I’m coping with my current mindset. 

And when my insecure thoughts threaten to overpower my positive thoughts, I remind myself of the people in my life — my color guard teammates and sibling, who unfailingly see my worth, even if I can’t. As for now, I’m holding out until I can one day see it too