On the days when I feel like hell, there’s nothing I hate more than the Internet urging me to tell myself I’m already enough.
In today’s world, that is supposed to indicate something about the kind of person that I am – that I’m weak or self-loathing or riddled with a lack of self-esteem. According to our current perceptions of confidence, we are supposed to feel good enough constantly. We’re either bursting with pride 24/7 or we’re the sole reason for our nation’s self-esteem epidemic.
We’re no longer allowed to be disappointed with ourselves – we’re supposed to accept ourselves, treasure ourselves, endlessly love and support every choice that we make, whether it be right or wrong. We’re enough if we make CEO and we’re enough if we’re sitting on our couch watching Netflix for the fifth day in a row. Being enough isn’t conditional. It’s not measured by standards or accomplishments or progressions. We’re enough simply for being who we are and if we can’t realize it, then the problem is all in our minds.
I understand the moral behind this message. I understand that berating yourself with negativity is no way of getting things done. I understand that we have to be on our own teams in order to move forward. But I don’t think we have to constantly feel happy and confident along the way. I don’t think that is a healthy self-concept – I think that’s crap. We are all, in some ways, not enough. We could all be doing better than we are. We are almost always half way to somewhere and it’s okay to realize that on the bad days. It’s okay to admit that you’re not where you’d like to be, exactly. We don’t constantly have to be happy. We don’t always have to be enough.
I, for one, never want to be given arbitrary recognition. I’m hard on myself and I like it that way. It is what pushes me forwards. It’s what keeps me ahead of the game. I don’t want someone to coo at me that it’s alright to stay home, pull the blankets up over my chin and hide away each time life gets too difficult to bear. I want to push myself to do better. To try harder. To fix whatever’s broken and to rise up to the challenge of living.
Telling myself that I’m already strong enough and good enough and close enough to where I want to be would be a lie. It would be just another strange, impossible standard I’d be forcing upon myself – now, not only do I have to be strong and successful and motivated, but I also have to be constantly happy with myself and where I’m at. Yeah, right. That’s not reality. Or at least, it’s not mine, and I’m okay with that.
On the days where I don’t feel like enough, here’s what I do: I don’t take extensive efforts to get pumped up. I don’t seek endless forms of validation. I don’t sit on my ass and eat ice cream and tell myself that I’m a beautiful special snowflake and that my problems are the rest of the cruel world’s fault. I just let myself not be enough. And that’s a highly underrated mindset.
Because here’s the thing: you’re allowed to not be enough sometimes. You’re allowed to have days where your life seems slightly off-kilter. You’re allowed to be halfway to everywhere but all the way to nowhere. You’re allowed to be in the processing of figuring it out.
The intense pressure we put on ourselves to be happy 24/7 is ridiculous. None of us are perfect. None of us are all of the way to where we’d like to be. None of us are 100% satisfied with every last part of our lives and suggesting that we ought to be is ludicrous. The desire to do better, be better, change our lives for the better is what keeps us moving forward. And that means that we’re going to have days when we’re a little unhappy with where we’re at. Those days are important. They matter. They’re a part of the process that makes us into better versions of ourselves.
So if today is one of those days for you, don’t beat yourself up over your lack of self-confidence. Don’t feel as though you’ve failed to live up to some impossible standard of endless contentment and sky-high self-esteem. You’re human. You’re fallible. You don’t have it all figured out and that’s okay.
Today, just let yourself not be enough. Let there be a big, huge chasm between where you are and where you’d like to be. Identify it, examine it, and then find a way to let it inspire rather than horrify you. You’re in the process of becoming. And if you fail to acknowledge that you’re not where you’d like to be, you’re never going to end up somewhere better.