This is probably a question that pops up in everyone’s mind from time to time; it’s like a stain that keeps reappearing or bad breath that a mint can’t cover. It persists so we persist in trying to define “enough.”
The chorus in my head has been on the same verses for too long: Am I good enough? Successful enough? Smart enough? Pretty enough? I wish I could say that the answer is yes. But depending on the day, it can go either way.
I had competing viewpoints on if I was enough in my childhood. My mom was generous with praise, always the encourager. But she pushed a lot, too. Straight A’s were expected. I never had a B until high school, but she wasn’t harsh, just slightly disappointed. My father, on the other hand, was absent and incapable of praise. Instead I got a lot of lectures on being fat. When this is how you start out in life, it’s hard to be kind to yourself and believe you are “enough.” Because ultimately isn’t it about having that belief in yourself?
But we keep falling into traps about what is “enough.” We get snared and dragged down, losing all focus on the things that really matter.
Trap One: If only some magical thing will happen then I’ll be enough. If I get the right job or the perfect marriage or some other thing then finally I’ll be enough. Listen, we all need to have goals and dreams. It keeps us moving, but what happens is that we stop caring about the present. It’s easier to look toward the future with hope that things will be better. The past betrayed us, and the present is just this thing getting in our way of the perfect future.
You know those vision boards that were so popular years ago (maybe they still are?). People put so much time and effort into looking at a board that was their ideal life that they didn’t appreciate what they already had. I don’t have a vision board. I stopped looking for what was at the end of the rainbow and decided the rainbow’s pretty awesome on its own. I haven’t completely conquered this trap; I still want more. I still have plenty to accomplish, but I refuse to ignore these moments that I’m experiencing right now.
Trap Two: Self-doubt and insecurity make us less likely to ever get to the prized “enough.” How much confidence do you have in yourself at this moment? Probably less than you deserve. I’ve always been confident in my intelligence and skills. With every fiber in me, I believe in my talent as a writer and marketer. I’m educated, curious and work hard every day to keep sharp. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have doubts. I still second-guess myself and feel that I’m not where I should be in my career. I’ve made mistakes. I stayed at jobs too long that didn’t nurture me and my ideas. However, I do make my living writing. People pay me to write! The topics aren’t always interesting, but it beats looking at spreadsheets or filling in balance sheets (I hate math!).
Do the most successful people in the world have self-doubt? I don’t know; it’s hard to believe that they could be confident in everything 100 percent of the time. I can only speak for me, and I am harder on myself than almost anyone ever could be. Some would say it’s tough love, but being kind to yourself has nothing to do with being “tough” and everything to do with being comfortable with who you are and where you’ve been.
So when will I ever be “enough”? I’ll probably consider myself an utter failure until one of my books is out there in the world. I may never be a best seller, but I’ll never give up on this dream. It’s the same dream I’ve had since I was a five years old. It’s been really close then far away then close again.
So what is your “enough”? This is a real question from a real person typing these words, not a ploy for engagement. Because if we can all make peace with “enough” doesn’t that make the world a little bit better?