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Feeling inadequate, nation hopes no young people achieve anything this week

28-year-old Eleanor Catton (pictured) is just one of many reasons New Zealanders have been feeling inadequate lately.

28-year-old Eleanor Catton (pictured) is just one of many reasons New Zealanders have been feeling inadequate lately.

Reeling from the recent successes of young New Zealanders such as Man Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton and chart-topping artist Lorde, many New Zealanders are expressing a fervent hope that nobody younger than them achieves anything this week, lest they feel even more unaccomplished.

Hamilton author Michael Wilks, 32, says he started off last week pleased to have received positive feedback on his Facebook profile for a poem he had written about kakapo. But the positive feelings swiftly faded as his news feed was overtaken with reports of Catton’s success.

“I thought my poem was pretty good, really,” he said. “There was some real nice imagery in there. Metaphors and stuff. A lovely simile about trees.

“But then everyone started going on about what Eleanor Catton was doing and it made me feel like my work wasn’t worth anything. And it is worth something, goddammit. It got 12 ‘likes’.”

Christchurch swimmer Jayne Camille was similarly perturbed by the success of fellow swimmer Sophie Pascoe, whose life was the subject of a high-profile feature in The Weekend Press.

“I’ve got two legs and I haven’t done shit by comparison,” she said. “And she’s five years younger.

“What’s the point in even trying? It’s pretty much over,” the healthy 25-year old woman conceded.

Intimidated by Lorde’s massive success at home and abroad, Dunedin mother Lana Jordan removed her nine-year old daughter from her piano classes, concerned that she was  “getting too good” and might make her modest wedding performing business appear comparatively pathetic.

University of Auckland psychology lecturer Professor Robyn Smithers said these reports are examples of “short poppy syndrome”.

“If we get to a certain point in life and haven’t achieved the dreams and goals we’ve set for ourselves, we can start to feel like massive failures – which we are, really,” she said. “When someone younger comes along and achieves something far bigger than us – a short poppy, if you will – then it can become really hard not to resent their success, or even actively wish harm and failure upon them.”

Smithers admitted that she herself had failed at least two PhD candidates after feeling threatened by their work.

“I should probably feel bad about that,” she said, “but I don’t.”

Wilks said he really hoped someone in the country would “fuck up real bad” this week.

“It feels like ages since we tanked in the America’s Cup. We need another national failure to make ourselves feel better.”

Prime Minister John Key assured reporters this morning that the government was hard at work on this.

“I think New Zealanders will be pretty happy with what we’ve got coming up,” he said.