One of the most universal theme I see is the sense of needing to achieve something in order to be worthy. It’s the sense of needing to get somewhere, receive some special award or have someone else’s approval before it’s possible for life to be okay. It’s different for everyone, but the refrain goes like this: I need to…lose 10 pounds (or 20, or 40, or 100) and then I’ll be enough. Get the book published, make partner, get whatever ranking on Klout, have a certain number of Facebook followers, get enough clients, get that shiny car I’ve dreamed of…and then I’ll be enough.
And we all know there’s a positive part of having a dream, goals, and passion for doing good work. That’s not what I’m talking about. It’s about when our worth as a human being is defined in terms of our ability to produce.
I can’t remember a time of my life I didn’t have some sort of target I had to reach in order to reach that elusive place where I could relax and enjoy. Winning certain races, getting good grades, getting awards, recognition, whatever. Each season of my life has had its own version of it. When I finally can walk well, it’ll be enough. I’ll be enough, and then I can relax and life will be wonderful. When I reach my financial goals, it’s proof that I’m doing enough.
The biggest problem with that is that it’s not true.
Think about the last time you grabbed the shiny ring and you reached your “enough”. Did you finally feel enough and stop wishing for more? Maybe for a few days or a week, but it doesn’t seem to stick.
As I find myself grasping for my own “enoughs” , I’m again reminded of my desire to be enough. Today. Of giving myself permission to appreciate myself now, without qualifications. Because when we keep running, we can’t embrace the present.
About 3 years ago, I thought I had leukemia and a few weeks to live. I think that was one of the only times of my life I wasn’t running. It was one time I was able to really let go of the sense of needing to accomplish something. Death has a funny way of teaching us how to live. My only goal was to find a way to love and accept myself completely. And of course, when that turned out to be a false alarm, I went back to forgetting what really matters. (and to be fair, I was really overwhelmed and ill at the time, so no big judgments there)
Or, put more elegantly:
“You wander from room to room,
Hunting for the diamond necklace,
That is already around your neck!”
Because when we relax back, we’re usually where we need to be.
I don’t think it’s about banishing “not enough”, but moderating how much real estate it takes up in my mind and my life. I know when I have a pervasive sense of not “enough” , it’s time to slow down and refocus on what I care about and what really matters. The more I see it for what it is, the easier it is to shift it to the background.
What are your “enoughs?” And what has helped you have the courage to set them aside and be beautiful just as you are?
And I do realize the irony of posting right before the Oscars, which is the epitome of people needing to be perfect to be enough…