Well, I am not sure I had do any particular self-convincing, that's just the way I naturally feel.

Basically, I know that I'm not the best in the world by pretty much any criteria -- there are people smarter than me, stronger than me, richer than me, etc. etc. But then, why should that matter? I am not in a competition with these people. We are not fighting over some resources. Let's assume I have some global rank in, say, smartness -- if my rank changes will it affect my life in any way? No, it won't.

Things are different in a local context -- maybe you want to win the affections of a particular girl or a boy. Maybe you entered a sports tournament. Maybe you want to get into a particularly selective school. In these cases I care about how I compare to others in the same local context -- because whether my ranking is high or low will directly affect outcomes that are meaningful to me.

But globally -- meh. I don't care that there are thousands of people who understand quantum physics much better than I do. So what?

I suspect it ultimately boils down to the issue of self-worth. Do you consider yourself worthy because you're better than someone? Or do you consider yourself worthy just because you are?

As it turns out, I consider myself worthy only when I'm better than someone, which sometimes takes the form of being able to help others, exert control over situations, or solve problems myself. This tends to spiral into feeling (self-)loathing when reading about some fictional people - Lazarus Long is a good example. At the moment, mental issues prevent me from consistently feeling worthy just for existing.

More "Stupid" Questions

by NancyLebovitz 1 min read31st Jul 2013498 comments


This is a thread where people can ask questions that they would ordinarily feel embarrassed for not knowing the answer to. The previous "stupid" questions thread went to over 800 comments in two and a half weeks, so I think it's time for a new one.