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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Wang

The 3 things that make me feel incompetent

I believe that confidence is a habit that is built on a mindset. This can be seen in the way I live my everyday life. In fact, I don't have any insecurity. Over the years, I have developed an intimate, nuanced, and profound understanding of who I am as an individual; not only do I accept who I am, but also I consistently stay true to who I am without fail. Moreover, I also accept the failures and defeats that come naturally in life, learning from them and moving forward. However, there are 3 things that make me feel incompetent. There are 3 things that have always made me feel incompetent.

1. Lack of proficiency in using my non-dominant hand/foot/leg

As early as my first few years of elementary school when I was doing little drawing and writing exercises, I would also try to do them with my left hand, which is my non-dominant hand. Similarly, when I was young and unskilled in soccer (world football), I would try to play with both feet (I didn't know that my dominant foot/leg is my left). Evidently, this desire to be ambidextrous was always there. As I failed over and over again, this feeling of incompetency also seemed to become a regular occurrence.

As a pre-teen, I started training in martial arts. This definitely further fueled my desire to be ambidextrous, as there was a focus on learning each technique from both sides. Additionally, the constant training of techniques from both sides and my success in developing ambidexterity in martial arts made me believe that I genuinely had the potential to be much more ambidextrous (I never believed that I could be fully ambidextrous in everything), which made it easier for me to feel that incompetency when I fail to be proficient in skills (especially basic ones) with my left hand.

I played several sports in high school and on the weekends during high school, all of which I would see performance improvements in if I were ambidextrous. Compared to many other players, I was more skilled with my non-dominant hand, even when I didn't or haven't yet work specifically on that. I believe this advantage was gained largely through my martial arts training and the amount of time I have thought about it over the years. However, the feeling of incompetence would still occur, as often as before, when I struggle to do things with my non-dominant hand/foot/leg.

In university, during the slower lectures, I would take notes with my left hand to work on my ambidexterity. I would also work on various techniques in basketball and world football with both my dominant and non-dominant side, like I had done in martial arts. Like my younger days, I would still feel incompetent when I struggle with my non-dominant side.

This feeling of incompetence never affected me that much. It was and still is always annoying, but that isn't a major problem. Over the years, this feeling of incompetence due to my lack of proficiency in using my non-dominant hand/foot/leg has certainly become less frequent and less noticeable. One obvious reason for this is because I literally improved my ambidexterity so much over time. Another reason, which applies to the other two things that cause this feeling of incompetence as well, is that I don't feel it or at least I don't feel it nearly as much when I don't actively think about my lack of proficiency.

2. Inability to control each of my fingers individually

I suppose the second thing that causes me to feel incompetent is quite similar to the first one, as it pertains to my physical limitations. However, the biological component in my inability to control individual fingers is much greater. It also differs in the sense that I don't really benefit much from being able to control each of my fingers individually.

There are two specific physical limitations in this regard that make me incompetent. The first is that I can't bend my pinky finger without also bending ring finger. This is especially true for my right hand, which I don't quite understand. The second is that I can't bend my thumb without also bending my index finger. These limitations are literally completely biological, as they are due to the way tendons and nerves are structured and placed in the human body.

Though I understand that it is a biological physical limitation and that I wouldn't benefit from being able to control them individually, I still get that feeling of incompetency when I actively think about it simply due to the fact that I think it is an incredibly basic thing and I should somehow be able to have a much greater degree of control over them.

Once again, the feeling of incompetence caused by this is not serious and doesn't actually affect me in any meaningful way. It is simply annoying when I do feel it, which, once again, is when I consciously think about it.

3. Lack of fluency in languages that I unreasonably feel like I should know

There are many languages in which I feel like I should know, even though I don't think that there are any legitimate reasons as to why I should know them. For example, when I am unable to understand any part of a random Russian conversation between two strangers on a bus and I actively think about how I don't understand anything they are saying, I feel completely incompetent. This is actually one of many reasons why I like learning languages (just to feel less incompetent).

My aim in my language learning journey is almost never fluency, but rather high-enough proficiency to understand what is going on, pick out most of what people are saying, and think about basic ideas in the language. With that said, I do try to improve as much as possible and become as fluent as possible. It is just not the active goal to actually reach what I would consider to be "a really high level of fluency". Well, I suppose some people could easily consider what I have described to be a high level of fluency.


Overall, I find it interesting that it is these 3 things and only these 3 things that have always made me feel incompetent. I am glad that, at this point in my life, I am able to avoid that feeling for the most part by not actively thinking about it. I suppose I am changing the saying to "out of mind, out of mind."

"Out of mind, out of mind." - George Wang 2021
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