Is it normal to constantly feel insufficient?

It's like I'll only ever be smart enough to realize what I'm lacking in any given moment

The questions are getting harder, I think that's a good sign. It almost seems like I'm on a constant loop though. It's kind of hard to explain

Is It Normal?
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  • Yes, it's normal to feel this way if you're my bank account.

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  • Your question is vague, but it sounds like you're referring to the phenomenon where the more we know about a subject, the better we understand how much we don't know.

    Ever heard of the Dunning-Kruger Effect? The basic idea is that low ability people don't possess the level of knowledge necessary to allow them to recognise their own lack of competence, so they tend to believe they know much more than they actually do. Many people are very comfortable in their blissful ignorance, so they belittle the opinions of experts and perform whatever mental gymnastics they need in order to dismiss all evidence that contradicts their opinions.

    Ironically, at the opposite end of the scale from people who know little but believe they know a lot, there are people who know a great deal about a subject but tend to underestimate their level of competence.

    Dunning-Kruger is what's going on with that guy you know who tells really unfunny jokes all the time but who believes he's such a great comedian he should have his own network TV show. It's also what's going on with anti-vaccine wingnuts, religious fundamentalists, climate change deniers and the idiots who refuse to wear a face-mask during a pandemic. And of course the most glaring example of the effect whom we all know is the guy who's currently dividing his time between cheating on his golf courses, holding super-spreader events for his fans, lounging around his borrowed house watching Fox and Tweeting blatant lies.

    But we're all liable to fall into the Dunning-Kruger trap. It's human nature to want to believe that our understanding of the world is good, we're competent and we don't believe things that are just totally wrong. The best way to limit the effect is to be aware of the danger and to not be afraid to admit the limits of your knowledge to yourself and others.

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    • I heard something similar to that, those that aren't experienced at something think they're the best and those that are experienced at something think everyone's at their level

      But my situation is like, I go through an event and learn from it and feel like I would do better next time, and I have when I've gone through the same thing again, but more often than not I go through something new or different and I don't know what to do.

      I try to remain calm, I feel my heart beat which keeps me from succumbing to the adrenaline, and I try to act as best I can with what I know. I try to observe myself and the other person in the moment for clues, and sometimes it works, but mostly I don't know how to respond so I reserve myself heavily.

      It's like I know what to do under specific scenarios but I don't have any "in general" rules or anything like that, so when I don't know I clam up which makes it harder to learn but also keeps me safe

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