Blog of Sara Jakša

I am Afraid of My Incompetence

Recently, I have noticed that some people seems to always have a hell of a lot better ideas in class that I do. I could name at least 3 people that are well above my level. Last week, I was in a group with one of them in the class discussion, and it drove home, that I am scared shit of being perceived as stupid.

I have noticed this during my public speaking experience as well. Put me on the stage and make me talk either about something that I have a feeling I know better than others or something, where knowledge is not important, like telling a story. There is absolutely no nervousness or anxiety there. I actually enjoy being on the stage.

But put me in the situation, where I know that there is a person in the audience, that knows more about the topic than I do, and I feel nervous, I want to pee and I have a huge stomachache. Not only that, I usually go through the presentation so quickly, I finish in half of the allotted time.

This is also the reason why a lot of times I don't want to ask questions or I don't want to offer comments. I have this picture in my head, and it is like I am protecting my own identity by protecting myself from the perception that I am an idiot.

I am not even sure where is this fear coming from. No, I am a bit wrong, there are at least some possible explanations for this. One is, that I have always build my whole identity on me being smart. I did not need to be popular or beautiful or loved or whatever other people want in their life. Instead I wanted to be respected for my knowledge, my intelligence and my problem solving abilities.

This was not a hard illusion to keep it, as long as I only studied business informatics. But studying cognitive science is showing me all the holes that I still have. I mean, I have to know deep down, that this is positive for me. Otherwise I would not take another class with the teacher that made me realize that even subjects that I was most interested in (personality), I don't know anything about.

I admire people, that are more intelligent than I am. But recently I have also started to admire people that can tell what they are thinking about, appearing without care how banal it will look to other people. And I know that it is hard to judge oneself, but that does not stop me from actually judging myself.

I don't actually know, what to do about it. But I figured that maybe if I write about it, than maybe my thinking about it will crystallize. Or, at least it will be something written down, and hopefully that means that my mind will start looking for the solutions, and not spend even more energy for worrying about it.