Over the holiday break I had a little time to relax, unwind, reflect on the year, and watch television. One of the things I watched was a documentary about Chris Farley called I Am Chris Farley.  It’s the tragic story of a man from Wisconsin who loved comedy, performed at Chicago’s Second City Theatre and then become one of the main stars of Saturday Night Live.  During his brief career, he was probably one of the most talented and funniest people in the world.

Although Farley died almost 10 years ago, the documentary was just recently released and shows many of Farley’s friends from the time – David Spade, Adam Sandler, Lorne Michaels, among others reflecting back on their relationship with Chris.

One of the underlying themes of the documentary was that Chris always felt like he wasn’t as good as some of the other comedians. His feelings of inequity came from his perception that he wasn’t very good at writing comedy sketches. He knew he was very good at performing, but when it came to writing, he had low self-confidence.  One of the implications in the documentary was that this lack of writing talent led him to feel like he was not good enough – which may have contributed to the drug use that ultimately led to his death.

Ironically, all of the other comedians felt like he was extremely talented – maybe one of the most talented comedians ever. On top of that, many of the writers actually said they got their inspiration from Chris – all they would have to do is give him a prompt and he would take it from there.

How tragic is that? Someone who everyone knew was extremely talented just never felt like he was good enough. Feeling like you’re not good enough I think is probably one of the most common, and often the most tragic, human emotions.

On Not Being Good Enough
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  • I suppose. But doesn’t it also motivate improvement?

    “Self-medicating” (escaping, or ‘handling’) feelings of inadequacy with drugs is not healthy. That applies to whatever emotion you have – whether it’s feeling inadequate, suffering rejection, loneliness, depression, etc.

    A healthy response is to identify a gap and address it. If that gap is impossible to overcome (e.g. lack of talent) to mitigate its impact (e.g. work with talented people).

    It’s not to pin your self-worth on a single facet of your ability and react with despair when you realize the futility of being as good as you want on that single facet.

    I feel like this is more about good life practices than on the problem of feeling inadequate.

  • That’s a good point. In fact – I would even argue (or idealize) that feeling not good enough often can cut the other way and drive folks to do tremendous things.