We all want to be good enough. But for who? And what does it mean to be “good enough”?
On Thursday evening, I tweeted: “I had a really weird moment today when I thought to myself, “if I died tomorrow and I’d spent my whole life hating myself, would that have been a good use of my time?” So much energy channelled into tearing myself apart. Seems like a waste. Tiny step in the right direction.”
The thought I’m referring to came to me in the middle of my self care afternoon. It caught me off guard because my self care sessions are, ideally, a time when I don’t think about anything at all. Yet, there I was, cup of tea in hand, Netflix on the TV and one deep thought popping up to say hello.
During the course of my life, I have put a lot of energy into disliking myself. More than anybody knows, and more than I even care to admit. It really does seem like such a waste. I could have used that time and effort for so many other things. Now, just because I have realised this doesn’t mean I’ve suddenly made the switch to loving myself, but it did feel good to recognise that it’s a pointless pattern of behaviour.
It’s not exactly new information. My counsellor pointed this out to me – several times, in fact – but I think some things sit in our heads until we are ready for them. She told me that it wasn’t achieving anything. I heard her, but I didn’t process it. It stayed in there, somewhere, ready to resurface.
Now, here we are.
What Does It Even Mean To Be “Good Enough”?
That one thought has since spiralled into a whole bunch of others, which is why I’m writing about it.
Like, at what stage would I think I was “good enough”? What would make anyone “good enough”?
I don’t know if I would ever consider myself to be “good enough”. With that in mind, is it even worth the energy trying to pursue it? Maybe I need to learn to accept myself as I am, right now, and view anything else as a bonus.
If I can be sure of anything, it’s that there will always be something to worry about. My teeth. The number on the scales. The fact I’m an introvert. How my voice sounds. Feeling childish. My wobbly thighs. Wearing glasses. These, amongst many others, are some of the things I have spent time mulling over and wishing I could change. (Okay, I actually DID change my teeth through the wonders of orthodontics, but I’m 100% cool with that choice.)
Not a single one of those things makes me a bad person. I’m not a bad person and I KNOW that. I have done things I’m not proud of. I have made mistakes along the way, but I have a good heart. When I do something wrong, I try to learn from it.
Every day, I try my best. I don’t go out of my way to make others feel bad. Quite the opposite, in fact. I do what I can to make other people happy. I am loving, caring, thoughtful and generous. In reality, I have a lot of qualities I should be proud of, but, for some reason, I’d rather analyse the bad bits under the microscope.
I don’t love my body, but it’s the only one I’ve got. It makes magical things happen. My eyes have seen beautiful sunsets. I have fingers to type. My arms held my nieces when they were born. My legs take me places. All in all, my body, regardless of how it looks, is doing a good job.
Who Are We Trying To Be “Good Enough” For?
At some stage in my life, I wanted to be “good enough” for boys. Maybe just my peers in general, actually. I wanted to be skinny enough and pretty enough and cool enough so that they would like me. Personally, I don’t think that’s unusual. I really thought I’d grow out of it, though, to tell you the truth.
Yet, now, here I am, with a man who loves me completely, and I’m still fixated on this idea of being “good enough”. I am enough for him as I am (which is what I should have always been aiming for but it doesn’t seem so straightforward when you’re a teenager!). He loves me whether I’m happy, sad, gobbling a pizza, singing out of tune or taking up all the space in the bed. He doesn’t care what the scales say. I can act like an idiot around him and it makes absolutely no difference. He loves me unconditionally, and it’s wonderful.
I was good enough for my parents from the second I was born, because I was theirs. They have never done anything to make me think otherwise. My siblings have always supported me. I am good enough for them because we are family. That’s all that matters.
When it comes to friends, I don’t have many, but the ones I have build me up. They don’t try to change me. They are my friends because they like me as I am.
These are the people who matter, and I am enough for them. If I was different, would I even be fortunate enough to have these people in my life?
I Have Always Been Enough.
There have definitely been people who have made me feel otherwise. I have had some awful things said to me, but how long can I allow that to shape the person I am today? Most of it was so long ago now, yet I’m still allowing it to linger.
Besides, of everyone I’ve ever met, do you know who has been the most unkind about me?
I’m always so hard on myself. And I’m tired. I mean, jeez, if someone else said the things to me that I say to myself, they certainly wouldn’t be allowed to stick around in my life.
I am so fixated on the idea that I could be better. I’m a perfectionist. I’ve put myself on an impossible path here. I’m stretching out for something I will never reach. Nobody will. I know there will always be something else that I feel I’m not doing quite right. Some things, I could change, and maybe I will. But I’ve got to let this pressure go.
There’s a John Mayer lyric (isn’t there always?) which is “what about this feeling that I’m never good enough? Will it wash out in the water, or is it always in the blood?” I think about it a lot. I can’t say if I’ll ever be comfortable in my own skin. There’s a long way to go before the inner torment ends. But, I would like to think that day will come, and I am one step closer.
As for you…
You Are Good Enough.
Right now, in this moment, you are enough. I want you, if you can, to give yourself permission to accept that. And if you can’t, then ask yourself the above questions. If you were “good enough”, what would that look like, and who would it be for?
Don’t chase “good enough”. Just be good and let that be enough.
Somewhere in the future, you may try to change things about yourself. That’s a choice you have every right to make. But I hope you make it because you know it will improve something which is already wonderful.
I hope you can embrace yourself as you are because, until you learn to do that, I don’t know if you’ll ever be “enough” for yourself. You will continue chasing and trying and pursuing and it won’t matter. Until you stand up and say “I’m enough”, you are always going to be searching for better.
You have always been enough.
One day, we are all going to die. It’s not a nice thought. I actually have a very intense phobia of death and dying so I do my best not to think about it. But I think your life begins the moment you realise it will end. That we don’t have an unlimited amount of time. We just have the here and now. We must use that time wisely.
And, I don’t about you, but I can think of a whole load of things that are more fun than picking out our flaws and setting impossible standards. It won’t be easy, but let’s try to just get on with living. Celebrating who we are, in all our flawed, odd, imperfect glory. Filling our heads, hearts and lives with good stuff. Anything else is just a waste of time.