Kittens and Commonplace: Dealing with Feelings of Inadequacy

Like any normal person, sometimes I feel inadequate. It happens. Maybe it was a test gone wrong, or my friends are being pricks, or I forgot to pack a spoon with my lunch and couldn’t eat my pudding and I had to improvise and ended up fashioning a spoon out of the plastic-y aluminum covering which, although innovative, turned out to be completely ineffective and instead I finished my lunch with chocolate all over my face.

Today was undoubtedly one of those days. The kind of day that starts off so unbelievably and ridiculously badly that you know it can’t possibly get any better.

So what? You say. Everyone has bad days. So what if the battery in your toothbrush suddenly ceased to co-operate and you actually have to exercise your getting-more-jiggly-by-the-week biceps? So what if you need to get a money order from the post office before your test that decides the fate of your application for Journalism, only you didn’t realize this, but the post office is closed on Saturday? And even if by some miracle you manage to get one from the bank, so what if you fuck up the part of the test that’s actually important because, let’s face it, 2013 was not a terribly interesting year for news? And so what if you went on a rant about social media and Justin Bieber to curry favor with the Bieber-obsessed faculty in the Journalism department? Any attention is good attention right?

Sometimes, on days like these, when things just keep piling up higher and higher and all I want to do is sit in a corner and cry like a toddler, I like go to the pet store at Place Alexis Nihon. I go there because that’s where the kittens are, the soft, fuzzy, warm, adorable balls of fur that jump on each other, trying to rip their siblings’ throats out. Eying the “don’t touch the glass” sign warily, it takes all of my willpower to refrain from leaning my nose against the glass panels, hoping to get as close as possible to these creatures. I just want to take them home with me, though I know that my cat would have them for breakfast or even as a midday snack. And then I pause. What must it be like to live life in a glass fronted cabinet? Every day, hundreds of people pass through that store, making “come hither” noises to the cats, watching their every move. I’m one of those people, but that doesn’t deter me from coming back, week after week, wondering what breed of kitten they’ll have next week, like tea-of-the-day flavors at DAVIDsTEA.

Most of the time, however, I prefer to be alone when dealing with whatever sense of inadequacy I’m feeling at the time. There’s something disturbingly exquisite about letting myself  sulk on my bed and inflicting as much pain as I possibly can, emotionally or physically. Putting myself down is a chilling mix of delight and suffering and I relish each moment of wallowing in self-pity.  Or so 15 year-old-me would have me believe.

Feeling inadequate is a normal part of the human experience. Of course there will always be someone who is better at writing than you, or have nicer hair, or whiter teeth, or is just so damn perfect that you want to smack them but they’re just so nice that you can’t help but be friends with them. I know that the Journalism department is looking for students who are so interested in the news that they’ll know the name of the NSA/Wiki-leaks fiasco guy (Edward Snowden) and they’ll be certain that the Syrian president is indeed Bashar Al-Assad and not cross it out because it was the first arab name to pop into their head and they thought that answer was too obvious. It doesn’t change the fact that, when I exited that exam room, I couldn’t help but feel like a failure.

As I dashed from Loyola to catch a 105 bus (nearly missing it as it pulled away from the curb and stopped ten feet later to let me on, the bus driver sighing audibly), I scowled in frustration and glanced at myself in the window. Wow, that was unattractive. Not that looking terribly detracted from any and all desire to frown. I was angry. I was going to frown. And then I received a text message.

At this juncture in time, I had two options: one, continue on my merry way home, throw myself onto my bed, possibly cry for lack of something better to do, beat myself up, curse the day I was born, rue that I ever dreamed of becoming a journalist, etc…


Maybe, just this once, I could allow myself a warm hug instead of my usual pity party. Maybe, just this one time, it would be okay to let someone else take care of me without having seen the whirlwind of rage and frustration that generally accompanied what I call “a fit of the crazies”.

I mean, I still like sulking on my own, though my cat is more than welcome to join in.


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