On Inferiority Complex

I suffer from an extreme case of inferiority complex.

The condition manifests itself in many ways, the most obvious in my refusal to stand close to a person who is taller than I am.  My height–at 6’1”–is my most redeemable quality.  Putting aside the fact that I was never able to redeem the quality–lack of athleticism and motivation didn’t help–I get a much needed comfort in (physically) looking down upon most people when I speak face to face.  My height gives me a sense of presence, commands certain respect.  I don’t like it when that’s taken away from me.  That’s why if you pay attention to the subtle, you always see a certain amount of space between Tom, my roommate from my senior year in college, and me.

Of course, there are psychological issues as well.  I may have made it as a lawyer in a firm in New York, but boy, that shadow of the family never goes away.  For all the jokes I crack about my dad formerly being a “computer salesman,” this is a man who didn’t speak a word of English when he came to the U.S. but managed to graduate from University of California – Berkeley and receive a Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  It’s worth noting that I was accepted into neither school.  And that “computer” he sold?  It was a multi-million dollar storage machine sold to the military and spying agencies (to collect satellite information, for example) in a business that my dad pushed Sony to enter and turned it into a global division.  It’s worth noting that the division died with his departure from the company.

But his accomplishments are nothing compared to the generation before–on both of my parents’ side.  The generation of my grandparents lived through the post-war Japan.  It’s bad enough to live through war.  I can’t imagine what it’s like to live through an unconditional surrender.  Yet not only did my grandparents (and my great grandparents) survive, they thrived.  I can never live up to that level of greatness.  I have long realized I have neither the skills, perseverence nor motivation.

But that’s okay.  So long as I know I suffer from an inferiority complex, I suspect I can use it to my advantage to get as far in life as possible.

I’ve learned to cope with the complex as well.  When James Bond is asked why he always wears a pistol in “Goldfinger” (1964), he answers “I have a slight inferiority complex.”

And you all wondered why I got a gun.


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November 2008
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