How can I stop feeling down living with a roommate who is much more intelligent than I am? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Answer by Rebecca Massey:
During my freshman year of college, I met one of my very best friends in my dorm. We were close friends all four years. We were roommates for a year after college. And we're still close friends today, more than ten years later.
My friend is frankly better than me at everything. Sure, we met while we were both attending an Ivy League school, but name just about any competitive measure of life, and my friend is just better. His IQ is higher. He did better on the SATs. In college, he had better grades in a harder major. He kicked ass in all his extracurriculars. He found a job faster. He's much more popular and has tons more friends. He makes way, way more money than I do. He has a much more interesting life. He has better stories. He's better at sports. He's better at music. He's better at video games! I've been a gamer since I was 3, and I don't even get to be better at that than he is.
There is only one comparison in which most people would consider me the "winner": I'm married, and he's single. But I don't even know if he wants to be married! So if that's not something he wants, then that's not something I'm doing "better" at.
Many times throughout our friendship, I was struck with storms of utter confusion, thinking: Why is he even friends with me?! People like him tend to attract similar people, so even his acquaintances tend to be smarter, cooler, more talented, more worldly, more interesting, etc., than me. What the hell could he possibly see in me? He's never been anything but kind to me, and I've absolutely never felt used or disrespected or ignored by him, so I've always felt sure he wasn't just using me as a charity case or to make himself feel better. But, in a way, that only made me more confused -- because then I couldn't come up with ANY reason he'd be friends with me, not even a bad reason!
Sometimes, it even got to the point where I'd avoid hanging out with him, because I felt so unworthy of being his friend. But I'd eventually start to miss him, and then we'd hang out and I'd feel better. Or he'd call and say "Hey, it's been a while," and I couldn't very well just say "YEAH, BECAUSE I CAN'T DEAL WITH NOT KNOWING WHY SOMEONE LIKE YOU WOULD BE FRIENDS WITH SOMEONE LIKE ME, OKAY?!"
This went on for years before my now-husband finally pointed out to me: "Does it matter? I mean, really, if he didn't want to hang out with you, he'd stop hanging out with you." And he also offered something I hadn't thought about for one second: "Maybe he likes hanging out with you because of things that don't have anything to do with how smart or cool or interesting you are? Obviously, you bring him something that he doesn't get from his super smart, super cool, super interesting friends."
And I've been chill about it ever since.
It's always worth noting that whatever you're fixated on, there's good odds that the people around you don't even notice or think about it.