Have you ever spent time with someone so ‘special’ that you felt inadequate? These feelings of despair and inadequacy that so many humans feel are perfectly expressed in the lyrics of the 1993 Radiohead anthem Creep.
Discussing what inspired his writing the song, Radiohead’s lead singer, Thom Yorke, talked about a girl he really liked when he was a student, but whom he didn’t have the courage to approach. He reflected that she was too good for him, as expressed in the lyrics “I’m a weirdo. What the hell am I doing here? I don’t belong here.”
Perhaps part of what makes this song so loved is the common nature of these feelings. We have an innate desire, like Yorke, to proclaim; “I wish I was special” and want people to notice our presence. This is evidence through the size of the market selling us health and beauty products to give us a ‘perfect body’, and the number of self-help products to help us achieve ‘the perfect soul’.
But when we consider the song, and our own experience of life, there is a much deeper issue at play. Perfection is often defined in relation to some external comparison. Even our own construction of what the perfect person / life / etc etc might look like is influenced by our perception and informed through our virtual and real contact with others.
This word perception here is key. Our lives are not so much made inadequate most of the time by the reality we experience everyday but our perception of those encounters; am I good enough for …?
So, what could our response be instead? Are we special? Well yes, and more than that unique. Each of us have qualities which make us different from one another. If we were to see these differences as an expression of diversity to be celebrated rather than a comparison to make us inadequate, perhaps this would liberate us to take a few more chances to help us enjoy life. Perhaps it would even have got Yorke noticed by his girl.