Hello! This is a message in a bottle, sent out into the ocean of the internet, reminding you that you don’t have to be better.
You don’t have to try harder. You don’t have to work smarter. You don’t have to grow wiser. You don’t have to get smaller.
You don’t have to do squats. You don’t have to eat spinach. You don’t have to produce works of art. You don’t have to make moves in your career. You don’t have to wake up earlier. You don’t have to do or be “More” with a capital M.
You do not have to push a Sisyphean boulder of “better” up an endless mountain of expectations in pursuit of being acceptable. You are acceptable and valuable and worthy, right now. You are enough. Let it be enough.
I don’t know if this is something you needed to hear. Maybe you’re nodding your head in bemusement like “Yeah, hippie weirdo, ‘I’m ok, you’re ok,’ I get it. Calm down.”
Maybe you don’t put pressure on yourself. Maybe you feel content in the days of your life, and you are friends with your soul. HOW NICE FOR YOU. (No seriously, that’s nice. You’ve cracked the code, baby. Gimme some of that).
Ugh, why don’t IIIIIIIII have the self-confidence of a pale, flexing infant??
But maybe you did need to hear it. Maybe you’ve been treating yourself with rough impatience. Maybe you’ve warped the pursuit of goals into a qualification for self-love. Maybe you’re waiting to like yourself until you’ve made some strides in your career or written 1,000 words or saved 1,000 dollars or done Invisalign to straighten your teeth or lost 15 pounds or figured out how grammar works or whatever.
Maybe your underlying, low-level anxiety about not being good enough has become such an ever-present part of your days that you didn’t even realize you were holding yourself hostage to it.
Last week, I realized I’d been doing just that.
I was sitting in my living room, working on a beautiful butterfly puzzle. (Which, as it turns out, was the hardest puzzle I had ever worked on and also had one piece missing BUT THAT’S ANOTHER TRAUMATIC STORY.)
I was feeling guilty because I wasn’t “doing things better.” It’s Portland summer and I wasn’t “taking advantage” of the warmth. I wasn’t working on my screenplay. I wasn’t writing blogs. I wasn’t reading smart people books. I wasn’t going for hikes or even really getting outside of my house, except to water the plants that I was letting overgrow as I ate fast-food french fries instead. I’d look outside and see my broccoli turning to flower and feel this gut-sick anxiety of “not-enoughness,” this ingrained mentality of “do better” rearing its ugly head.
And what I realized that day, doing that puzzle, is that I wasn’t feeling guilty about the things that would help me FEEL better, I was guilty about not doing the things that would fulfill some impossible standard of BEING better--having more value, being more worthy, being “enough.”
Jeez, I thought, it’s a frickin’ global pandemic and I’m berating myself for not eating the cruciferous vegetables in my garden? DAMN! GIVE A GIRL A BREAK!
“You don’t need to be better,” I told myself, nudging my guilty soul gently. “You can just BE, and that is enough.” And I started crying with relief, as I repeated it to myself over and over, giving myself permission to just freakin’ EXIST IN A SENSE OF INNATE WHOLENESS, already.
Sadly, you can’t have innate wholeness unless you power-stance in a field at dusk
Here’s the thing: I do believe we are here to grow, and evolve, and impact the world. I do not think we should free ourselves from any sort of personal responsibility, and exist in a selfish bubble of justifying our shitty behavior or our ignorance or our laziness.
And like the great Maya Angelou famously said:
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
But if there’s one thing I know it’s that flowers don’t grow out of rocks and shame is not a sustainable nutrient to the soul. If the challenges and goals you want to pursue to bring you enjoyment and growth and purpose—by all means, do them. But if you’re waiting for the things outside of you to give you a sense of peace and security and love of your personhood, if you’re trying to DO yourself into a sense of BEING “better”…well, you’re gonna be waiting a long time.
So, again: You don’t have to train for 5ks. You don’t have to write the next great American novel. You don’t have to make abs happen. You don’t have to cook meals from scratch. You don’t have to learn new skills. You don’t have to fold your laundry. You don’t have to read books you don’t like.
You don’t have to be a better mother, or daughter, or husband, or wife, or employee, or citizen, or human being.
You don’t have to be different than you are, right now, in this moment, wherever you are.
Because right now, just as you are, YOU ARE ENOUGH.
THREE GOOD THINGS
1) Eckhart Tolle Video Series. This free series was SUCH a restful, meditative thing for me to listen to last week. If you’re needing a reminder that we can connect to peace even in the midst of truly difficult times, this is a must watch/listen!
2) Speaking of puzzles: My mom got me this “Nevertheless, She Persisted” puzzle and I’m obsesssssssssed with ittttttttt.
3) Rynnstar is on Instagram and Tik-Tok and has been making me laugh/learn with her snippet videos addressing micro-aggressive (and oftentimes just aggressive) racist comments, like this one that shuts down bogus incarceration statistics—which is so damn catchy that I now use it as my hand-washing tune. (PS She’s on Venmo y’all! Do a tangible rad thing today and send her some dollars for her creative work!)