You and I go back a long way. I first met you when my grandparents pampered my brother a little extra, when my Dad openly said my brother was more intelligent. You came to live with me and have not left since then. Time and again, when I set goals for myself, before I could even start you blurted out unapologetically “You will never make it”. You made me compare myself to my brother, cousins, friends constantly reminding me of how they had things I didn’t. I cried into my pillow for years before sleeping. My vulnerabilities and insecurities were exploited and amplified by you. You were successful in making me believe I was the most stupid, ugliest kid who nobody wanted to be with. You have a voice almost indistinguishable from my own mind’s.
Your actions were fuelled by what I saw around me. We were always in a race – to get good marks, to stand first, to clear IIT-JEE, to be the prettiest , the slimmest. Slowly, I turned against my own self. I believed everything you said to me and more. I berated myself all day long.
When, I actually did not achieve perfect scores, the perfect skin I found anecdotal evidence to your sayings. My life was sucked out of me.
After a few years, you brought along your friends anxiety and depression in my life, and that was when I totally lost the will to live. In attempts to fight them, I have face-offs with you often.
I realised that it was you, who brought them to my life. You may have won many times in the past dear Inadequacy but you are going to lose now. I have realised that I am a worthy person, beautiful, kind, compassionate and smart. Treat this letter as a break up letter. You are too demanding, taking up all of my mind’s space. I am going to defeat you with the help of my tribe- my family, my friends and my therapist. I can already see you weakening and soon you’ll be gone for good.
I hate you Inadequacy but I am thankful for the compassionate side that you have brought out in me. I have made it my life’s aim to kick you out of as many lives as I can. And I am on it.
Count your days.
Replies to R
Thank you so much for this. This was indeed a very powerful letter.
Some of the words and expressions that stayed with me were:
- a voice almost indistinguishable from my own mind’s
- my tribe
- I am thankful for the compassionate side that you have brought out in me
- kick you out of as many lives as I can
I resonated with her felt sense of the power of this indistinguishable voice; and the compassionate side that inadequacy has brought out in her. The image that the letter conjured up in me was that of this huge black shadow taking over her. And as the letter progressed, the shadow also reduced in size.
I struggle with a sense of inadequacy in 2 to 3 areas in my life, and it brought attention to that. The part where she says that she has made it her life’s aim to kick it out of as many lives as possible stayed with me because it reminded me of one of the reasons I chose this profession.
I have come to this, read the letters over and over again, what stayed with me about ‘dear inadequacy’ (my very own old friend, companion, clingy best friend) there was lots of that resonated with me. The statements that stayed with me were
I resonate with all of this and how and it takes me back to so many specific events, incidents in my life! Now I am in a place in my life where I time and again question the norms stupid, ugly, unwanted etc. Who gets to decide who is whom and why?
I agree and I also think that if I didn’t have inadequacy in my life I wouldn’t be the person I am today because I am kind of proud of who I am today in whatever way I am- I am wondering if R also feels that way about herself? What I want to tell my inadequacy now is- Thanks but no thanks… you have overstayed your visit. It’s time for you to leave!
The instant image that comes to my mind is Paresh Rawal from that bollywood movie “Athithi Tum Kab Jaaogye 😉
‘Count your days’- I loved this! I could literally imagine this being said in Arnold Schwarzenegger tone of terminator ‘I’ll be back’.. totally the opposite meaning of what he said though!
Are you interested in writing a break up letter to Inadequacy? You could also replace Inadequacy with Guilt, Shame, Fear etc – typical problems that can trouble girls and come in the way of them reclaiming their lives. You could also send us your letter, with a different name, and we can add it to Just Girls! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prompts for the letter to Inadequacy
What does Inadequacy convince you into thinking?
What is the intention of this Inadequacy? What is its purpose and plan? What does it take advantage of?
What are the society’s ideas of a good girl that it uses against you?
What are the tricks it uses?
How are you still standing up to it all?
Why is it so important for you to not listen to what it is saying to you?
Visualise – how would your life be if you could stand up to it? What would it look like?
Who all will be in your team?
Why is it important for you to reclaim your life from it?
Adapted from narrative therapist, David Newman’s work.