meter-reader-slide1On a whim, I recently applied for a job reading meters for the local city utility system. The pay was decent, and I thought maybe the chance to get outside and do some work might help me get back at least a little of the energy I’ve been so sorely lacking as of late. Certainly not a position I would want to make a career out of, but definitely something I could do in the short term while I complete my Masters degree in counseling.

I didn’t get the job. There were apparently people who were “more qualified.”

Now, I certainly do not mean this as any disrespect to those who read meters for a living, but what qualifications does one need to possess to perform a job of this type? I have a Bachelor of Arts degree, so I like to think of myself as a fairly competent person. I can drive a car. I can count. I suppose one could argue the degree makes me over-qualified for such a position, but that was not the wording of the rejection notice; it said I was actually not qualified enough.

I can’t say I’m too awfully torn up about not getting the job, but it brought up a feeling my depression evokes quite frequently: You are never good enough. I always seem to come up just a little bit short in everything I do. This feeling has only been exacerbated lately since losing my previous job (see here for details on that), but it has been present for as long as I can remember. It just manifests itself in different forms: Not athletic enough. Not handsome enough. Not smart enough. Not aggressive enough. Not outgoing enough. Not, not, not, not, not…

Always never enough.

Low self-esteem is common among those who suffer from depression, and since persistent depressive disorder can last for several years, it has a way of taking hold after a while. Instead of all of those “not enoughs” being fleeting thoughts you battle through, you actually start to believe them. So when an instance comes up where you really are not enough, it becomes doubly-devastating, because it affirms all those negative things you believe about yourself. This can make life extremely difficult for a depressed person, since the unfortunate truth is we are all faced with moments in life when we simply don’t have what it takes to succeed.

I’m usually not one for New Year’s resolutions, but I do have one I have decided upon for this year: I’m going to do my best to cut out negative self-talk. I’m finally beginning to realize how bashing myself sometimes leaves me defeated before I even start. Here’s an example: I was talking with someone the other day about possibly trying to learn some songs and play some gigs this year with just me and my guitar. I said to them, “Yeah, but you have to be really good to do that.” I immediately noticed how I had disqualified myself before even trying.

I could name a hundred other examples of how I do this, but the point I am trying to make is that as long as I feel like I’ll never be enough, I probably won’t ever be. Before this becomes a “I can do anything I set my mind to!” speech, I will say I know there are some things I just will not ever be good at. There are some things, though, that I’m probably better at than I think. I’m at least as good at some things as other people are. I may be struggling right now to actually believe that, but somewhere deep inside I know it is the truth.

I remember once when my sister-in-law attempted to get a job at Starbucks and failed. She, too, has a college India's Starbuck chaindegree and plenty of work experience. When I heard she didn’t get the job, though, I didn’t think she was a complete failure in life; I still thought she was a very smart, very capable, and very talented person. I wonder why I can’t extend that same type of grace to myself. I may not be qualified to read a meter, but I am definitely qualified to do that.


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