At some point in your life, you’ve probably felt like you weren’t good enough. It might have been at school, work, on a night out with friends, or on your couch scrolling through social media.
Inferiority is something that every person deals with, but while for some it can trigger a desire to be better, for others it can incapacitate and debilitate.
Julius Kahl is a 29-year-old photographer living in Recklinghausen, Germany. Since photography is a highly competitive field, Julius has had his fair share of feeling inferior. I sat down with him to understand what he’s learned about inferiority, how it’s affected his life, and how he deals with it.
What is Inferiority?
By any measure, Julius is a relative newcomer to the photography scene. He got his first camera only a few years ago, and he’s still very much in the process of making a name for himself. But that hasn’t stopped him from comparing himself with other, more seasoned photographers.
It seems that inferiority is not a rational process. But rather, a feeling of inadequacy that, more often than not, is based on emotions and not facts.
Where Does it Come From?
For Julius, he feels most insecure scrolling through social media. He tells me that “nowadays, through social media, you’re always bombarded with content from other, clearly more talented photographers. The problem with that is that you’re always put in the position of comparing yourself with other people, compositions, and looks.”
But social media, while it may worsen feelings of inferiority, is not the root cause of the problem. That is something much deeper, much more intrinsic to who we are, and much more difficult to solve than deleting your Instagram.
The problem, as Julius identified it, is that we are constantly comparing ourselves with others. The reasons why we may do this are numerous, ranging from childhood trauma to plain old jealousy. But the gist is that we place people, not goals as the benchmark for our success. And when we see them succeed, we feel insufficient by comparison.
This is dangerous behavior, Julius warns, and it can have very significant effects.
Effects of Feeling Inferior
Inferiority can keep you from trying new things. This is something that Julius discovered as he familiarised himself with photography.
“The most important lesson for me was that theory does not equal practice,” Julius said to me. He realized that he’d been hiding behind theoretical concepts instead of going out into the field and taking pictures.
Inferiority can also contribute to poor social relations. It’s hard to be friends with someone if you resent them for everything you think they have, and you don’t. Poor social relations can be detrimental to your brand and business. Especially if, like Julius, people are an essential part of your work.
One great way of dealing with inferiority is by turning it into fuel for growth. Instead of being depressed by the amazing people and things that they’ve done, use it to challenge yourself. Remind yourself of it as motivation when you feel down and use it to propel your growth.
There are many amazing people in your field, and you’ll succeed much faster if you learn from them. That’s what Julius did, and it’s helped him grow tremendously. “My most important mentor over the past 5 years has been Danny Schafer of Pretty Moments,” he says to me. “He has taught me a lot about the wedding industry and videography, for which I am extremely grateful.”
Instead of placing stock in what others are doing and achieving, watch your own progress. Logging every improvement and celebrating every win is a great way to remind yourself that you are making progress, and while it might not be Instagram-worthy, remember that you are making progress in the things that matter to you.
For Julian, those things are customer reactions. He says, “positive reactions from customers to my pictures and videos make me feel like my best self. Every time I deliver pictures, I get extremely nervous, but if they appreciate the work, I get overjoyed. Always makes my week!”
Perhaps the most important piece of advice that Julius has for anyone struggling with inferiority is to always stay true to yourself and stay on the ball. Don’t try to be someone else because they have a distinct style you admire, but rather, work hard to create your own. “It’s important to figure out for yourself which creative direction you want to go.
Everyone faces inferiority. Julius says, “I’ve been working on it for quite a while now, but this feeling will most likely not go away.” But that’s fine. Inferiority can be properly managed and can even help us evaluate our progress and inspire us to be better versions of ourselves.
Check out Julius Kahl via his socials below: