One of the things that continuously comes up for me as I work towards self-love and leadership is the feeling of not being enough. Maybe this seems blatantly obvious, but maybe this is you too?
I constantly feel the phrase, “but Alex, you’re not good enough”, tug at my heart more than I would like to admit as I traverse my way through life. I feel it creep into so many areas of my life:
- Career Community: not educated enough, not experienced enough
- Running Community: not thin enough, not fast enough
- Fitness Community: not thin enough, not strong enough
- Outdoor Community: not experienced enough, not adventurous enough
- Academic Community: not intelligent enough, not profound enough
- Mental Health Community: not broken enough, not deserving enough
- Body Liberation Community: not fat enough
Some days I just want to scream out of frustration. Some days I do. The internal dialogue I have with myself over this is that I’m just an average woman, doing average things, but holding myself to a higher standard in an attempt to feel enough, when the truth is, I need to be more gentle with myself, and understand that it’s 1000% ok that I’m still learning what being enough feels like to me.
I think a lot about where this feeling of inadequacy stems from. I think about the times I’ve felt the intensity of not being enough and how it often manifests itself in me passing judgment on someone else (ooo scandalous and before you villainize me for this, I want to remind you, we are all guilty of this! Here’s to normalizing eff ups, one post at a time!).
I think about all the times I’ve behaved this way and I can humbly say that it comes from a place of envy. Not envy of the person, but of what they are accomplishing; which I think is significantly different. Again, it’s not about who the person is, it’s about what they’re doing and how it elicits the age old, “why not me”, narrative to my brain.
This type of thinking is dangerous. It has the ability to jade you over time and creates this illusion that once you accomplish a goal, and only then, will you become enough. But what happens once you reach that goal or marker you’ve set for yourself and you still don’t feel enough? At what point does the external validation take a back seat? At what point is enough, enough? Maybe you feel this way too? I can’t say that I have the answers because I’m still learning to let go of this mindset, but I can say that for myself, the feeling or belief of being enough is no longer a destination, but a practice.
I’ve had a lot of conversations with my therapist about this (spoiler alert, I go to therapy; highly recommend, 10/10, but also recognize how privileged I am to be able to access therapy). In our conversations, it’s become evident to me that the feeling of not being enough has been a lifelong struggle that has been reinforced in a multitude of ways, but is also a deeply rooted fear on my end. To be clear, it’s not the fear of actually doing/acting on something, but the fear of doing it and being judged for it; and that is the little wee golden nugget of information that gives me hope. I know I can learn to push past the fear of being judged, but I also know it won’t be easy because the fear of judgment affects a lot of my daily life, my decision making, and also some of my relationships. It’s exhausting when you feel like you are in a perpetual state of defensiveness.
The irony is not lost on me that the hurtful behaviour of others is mirroring my own. That whole cycle of not feeling enough being projected back at me by someone else because they also feel like they’re not enough. It’s wild how much we are all more alike than we think we are. Or is it? (I’m still not sure but probably because I’m over thinking it).
When I think of this behaviour, I’m often reminded of the powerful and very wise quote by Brene Brown, “…if you’re not in the arena getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”
I love this quote so much, but it’s also oh so hard to practice sometimes. There are a few truths to recognize in this. One being that there is so much more to humans than meets the eye; that we are all carrying wounds that haven’t healed yet, that ultimately impact the way we walk through the world. The other being that we need to push past the fear of what others may (or may not) think or say about us because otherwise we’re just giving power to something outside of ourselves.
When we give power to the thoughts of others, or the need for external validation, we lose our ability to trust ourselves. THIS. This is where I’m at right now in this nitty gritty moment as I write this post. I’m re-learning to to use my voice, to push past that ever present fear of judgment, to stick to my boundaries, and most importantly, to trust myself. It’s the reinforcement that the feeling of being enough is a practice.
So, what is my heart telling me right now that we’ve reached the end of this post? That I have the power to choose what feedback I want to keep, and, that the light of others doesn’t dim my own. If anything, I’m continually learning that the more light there is, the brighter we shine together.
Until next time, be gentle with yourself friends.