Feelings of Inadequacy

There are some things in my life that I feel fearful sharing because I am afraid of feeling inadequate or incompetent. I have a fear of being perceived as lacking intelligence or discovering I have said something that is incorrect. I have had this as long as I can remember and I believe it stemmed early on, possibly while in kindergarten. I remember the woman who ran the place said some pretty rotten things to me. She wasn’t exclusively rotten to me but I got a large chunk since I had to be there a lot.

It was a private school.

I had to be there before it opened and after it closed because of my mom’s work schedule. My mom also worked there part-time in order for me to go to that school, along with her other jobs. I had to help out, setting up for the school days and clean up after as well. I really didn’t mind that at all, I actually thought it was fun. I did not like the horrible way the woman talked to me or the things she said. I recall her calling me stupid if I didn’t hear her or understand what she meant by what she said.

I believe I wrote this before but I can’t remember where.

There was one time she told me to do something and I couldn’t hear her, she repeated it and I still could not understand her. She then told me to “Get my head out of my butt and listen”. I stood there devastated by the image that was in my head at first, how that could possibly happen? Then I realized it was an awful thing to say to a 5 or 6-year-old, even though I did not fully understand it. I was extremely upset and still confused by the time my mom came and got me.

My mom knew something was wrong because I had shutdown.

She finally got out of me what had happened, my mom then marched into that woman’s office. I do not know what she said but she did have some choice words for her and the woman never said that to me again. However, she still wasn’t the most pleasant woman. All of these thoughts about my intelligence have resurfaced recently because I started reading John Elder Robison’s book Look Me in the Eye, now he has a new one that I would like to get as well, called Be Different.

As I have been reading it I have seen many similarities and CLEAR differences.

I really enjoy reading from other ASD perspectives. His humor is a bit on the darker side for me but I get it. (This is kind of a big deal since I have a hard time with certain humor.) As I read the last chapter called “Collecting the Trash” I laughed so loud that I thought I would wake up the kids. I just started reading Chapter 11 “The Flaming Washtub” and it is hard to put it down. He truly is a great story-teller. I actually found out about John Elder Robison through watching Running with Scissors, (I did not read the book) I was so intrigued by the story that I researched the writer that the memoir was based on. They are brothers. None of that really matters I guess, I can’t help myself. :-)


As I read Chapter 9 “I Drop Out of High School”, I was very interested because I dropped out and I felt completely inadequate, dumb and embarrassed by this for many years. As I read this chapter I could relate to so many things and I felt relief. I read the part about it being suggested that he get his GED, and if he got at least a 75% they would treat him as a graduate and he could leave high school. He took the test and got 96%. They offered him a diploma for a small recording fee. Here is the part that I so wish I could do, the clerk told him $20 and he said “No thanks” then added “I don’t need your diploma”. GEEZ! I wish I could do that. My personal story of school is not a good one; it wasn’t that I couldn’t do the work it was that I needed to be taught differently. I also had a lot of social confusion and other issues going on. I got labeled “Basic” and “Intermediate” early on and then categorized in classes with fellow classmates that fell under those labels.

I assumed the authority figures knew what they were talking about.

They all thought I was dumb, so I must be. I now understand that I have dyspraxia and other forms of dyslexia. At an early age I spent a lot of time reading out loud, I believe this helped me a lot. My mom encouraged it as well so I think she helped, along with encouraging reading all the time. I still do this if I am unable to get the words to read properly in my head from the page. Sometimes they dance or have too many colors. I have difficulty with my auditory processing, which caused a lot of problems in school. A lot of things would just mesh together and not make anything coherent in my brain. The sound from chalk boards hurt to the core of my body, the dust and the smell would make me sick, even if I was in the back of the room.

I had test anxiety my whole life, but my teachers thought I was just being disruptive or lazy.

I got to a point where I would just write whatever, leave it blank, or circle multiple choices based on random images in my head without even reading the questions. When I decided to quit high school, they pretty much didn’t care. My freshman year I got expelled for skipping too many days. I got back in after meeting with the school council with my mom. We shared how she was going through a divorce. Also how I was taking care of my toddler sister and baby sister after school, evenings and weekends while my mother worked. I was helping to take care of the household as well as going to school. They seemed to have pity on us and let me back as long as I pulled up my grade point average, I did. My sophomore year, I continued to skip, especially once I got a car and I got expelled for smoking in the bathroom several times. I quit smoking in 1999. Yea!

The winter of my junior year I started working and found my new special interest, work.

By the time my senior year came along, I had so many meltdowns in the vice-principles office, had been expelled, skipped so many days, had extreme social anxiety at school, and was only happy at work that I decided to quit school. I went to work full-time. I was my happiest when working. I could escape the troubles of home and I had a bit less responsibility. My mom however, did expect me to keep up with the house and help with watching the girls. I did get my GED much later in life after several years of not being in school. I took it without preparing at all and I also had to take a test on the Constitution, I didn’t study for that either. I got a passing percentage for both but I do not remember now what they were. I am not going to attempt to find it, I passed with a pretty high score on both, and I do remember that.

It didn’t matter to me though, I still felt stupid.

A GED wasn’t a high school diploma and in my mind it was much lower. I realize now that is not the case. I do wonder at times, if I would have had a teacher who gave a vested interest in me, if I would have gone into academics. Who knows, it doesn’t really matter I am very happy where I am at. I am also on a journey of accepting myself completely and that means rejecting the labels given to me in school by my teachers, schools and fellow students.

My mom never labeled me with those things.

However, she never said anything different either. She would only say things like, you are smart enough to get school done, just get it over with. Her mom had said something similar to her because she wanted to quit too but she didn’t. She finished out and got her diploma, even though the school didn’t want her there because of her “condition”, being pregnant at 16 yrs old. She later went to college for a few years, but had to quit because she was working several different jobs and had to take care of me also.

I personally just wanted to work.

I had no desire to go to college because I thought it would be the same as high school, no thanks! I read this article recently and found it interesting, College is a waste of time. Though, I do now have some desire, it may still be a part of my future. I did very well at work; I was good at everything I did so I stuck with it. I didn’t have feelings of inadequacy or incompetence. It didn’t even cross my mind. But I still felt inadequate at times, mainly for social reasons. At times I feel like if I don’t have the education through means of schooling, than I have no right to talk about it.

All my reading and researching means nothing to me, it is never enough.

I do not hold others to this standard and I am not sure why I do this to myself. It is at those times when I am feeling that I am not qualified to say anything or write about something, that I wish I had that trait that John Elder Robison has, I wish I didn’t feel need for validation. I wish I didn’t have that self-doubt. David has that trait like John and I admire it very much. Although, there are times that it can be a bad trait, if used wrongly or if the person has an unteachable spirit. I still think it would be nice sometimes to allow myself to just say “You know what, I have an opinion and based on what I have read, I am allowed to share it without any anxiety.”

I am working on these feelings; I do not think they are all wrong, possibly a bit misplaced.


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4 thoughts on “Feelings of Inadequacy

  1. Aspergirl Maybe

    I can sooo relate to this, Angel. This is me so exactly – “I have a fear of being perceived as lacking intelligence or discovering I have said something that is incorrect.”

    People are always amazed how much I have read, especially in the last few years about autism, but what they don’t realize is how hard it is for me to put things into practice or feel that I truly understand it. I am slowly learning that the only way I will actually get to that point is to attempt things and learn from my mistakes. Of course, I hate to do anything I am not able to do perfectly, but I’m getting a bit better at accepting that is not how life works, it’s just the idea I had in my head about how I should be.

    Also, I just wanted to say that I have found you to be an extremely intelligent and well-spoken person, and I can see how diligently you implement things with your kids. Bless you!

  2. Angel Post author

    Hi AM,

    You know, I really wish I didn’t have that feeling of fear but I also see how it is a way to drive passions for learning. I guess it can be good and bad. :-)

    I am discovering too that I should just step out and try things, it took a lot to start this blog and then to share more of my poetry. I can apply that feeling of accomplishment to other things that I learn. It is hard to get over the initial fear but then it gets easier and easier.

    Thank you very much for your kind words. That really means a lot!

    Blessings to you too!

  3. Diane

    This is interesting to me, because I come from a very different perspective and yet still manage to feel inadequate much of the time. I was a bit of a golden child in school and always did very well on tests, but I also had trouble fully understanding things or remembering them over long periods of time. I was always afraid people would find out how little I really knew and how little I could generalize and apply what I churned out in test format out in the world. And because I didn’t want people to realize how little I understood, I didn’t ask questions. Leaving school and entering the workplace was very traumatic for me, because my chief skill of taking tests was no longer of any value. And I began to realize with each new job I took that there was nowhere that I felt like I was truly capable – I was always just doing my best to get by and keep people from realizing I didn’t belong. I have discovered over time that I do have a basic ability to learn skills that I’ve actually been taught and to perform them well, but I don’t ever seem able to just “pick things up” like people have expected for me to do. I’m just starting to realize that maybe that’s not something I need to feel ashamed about, but it’s difficult to overcome so many years of seeing things a certain way. I like what you said here at the end about wanting to be able to have an opinion and to share it without any anxiety – that’s something I’d really like to be able to do, as well.

  4. Angel Post author

    Hi Diane!

    I was going to read your post the other day but time got away from me, I am planning on reading it tonight.

    I really like hearing from your perspective, it is interesting. I find it fascinating that we parallel but from different points of view. It is the same feeling though, that feeling of realization of not belonging or feeling out of place. Also where you said “I was always afraid people would find out how little I really knew and how little I could generalize and apply what I churned out in test format out in the world.” it made a lot of sense. I tried to stay quiet about how little I felt I knew or could generalize, but my mind would not be able to stay quiet and the questions would flood out of my mouth. It then depended upon how people answered me. Since I could not read if they were talking down to me or not I automatically thought they were. For a while I shutdown with my questions and forced myself to stay quiet but it felt like my insides were going to burst! :-)

    There are certain things that I can just pick up and others that I really have to study very hard for and add other sources like media to help me. When it came to tests, I felt that if I didn’t study than I knew I would fail so who cared and it helped with the anxiety. I found that when I did study that my anxiety would heighten and I would be unable to comprehend or retain anything. That is the reason I did not study for the GED. I tried and I started freaking myself out so I decided that if I just went in and failed without any prep then it would be better than failing after doing all of the prep. If I prepared and failed it would show how little I am able to learn, so I thought. It sounds kind of silly but it worked, I guess. :-)

    I hope we can start sharing more opinions without the anxiety!

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