Anyone else struggle with feeling as though you're enough'? I certainly do. The thing is, I know that I am enough - whatever 'enough' even means - but that doesn't stop me questioning it, feeling low about whether I am, and comparing myself with others. The comparison part is the hardest. No matter how much I tell my brain and I know that it's not healthy, I can't help but do it. Most of the time I don't compare myself because I'm jealous or I want what others have, even though sometimes, let's face it, we all do this. No, for me, comparison, is me questioning whether I am doing the right thing, whether I'm liked as much as others, whether people are happier than me or in a healthier place than me. It makes me feel as though I should be doing more and being 'better'. It's a pretty dark and lonely place when I'm doing it. I can feel left out, lacking confidence, beating myself up. It doesn't help me that I am a competitive person with myself and others. I'm the person who is secretly racing the person next to me in the pool and who will take on all the tasks at work to be the best employee, even if it means I burn out. It also doesn't help that I take on challenges for myself. I do genuinely love pushing myself and seeing what I can achieve, whilst experiencing new things. Maybe in doing this I am searching for something 'more', but why can I not just be and be content that in that state I am enough?
What's going on behind the scenes
When I start to feel like I'm not enough, I have started to ask myself what it is about the circumstance that is making me feel it? Is it that I want something or feel something that others have and I want? Is it because I feel like I could have done more? Is it because I don't feel like I'm getting the recognition I feel I deserve. Is it because I'm not happy with something in my life? Or is it something else entirely and the feeling of not being enough is actually because I feel left out, undervalued or undermined? By being able to think about those things and attempt to identify them, I can shine a light on the area of my life that I need to pay a little bit of attention to and acknowledge that there might be something there that I'd like to improve or change. When I do that, I feel so much more in control of my own feelings and owning by own shit rather than feeling other'd or not enough. Sometimes, however, the feeling of not being enough is something we're conditioned to feel by society, misogyny and marketing - if I had;
a) a career
b) my one true love
c) a baby / a family
e) a new car / house / phone / anything materialistic
f) a flatter tummy / stronger arms / prettier face
I would be happier and feel enough.
Bollocks. I wouldn't be.
After world war 2, when women had been allowed to go to work because they had to fill the places of the men who were away fighting, it was the finance and business sector that released more profit could be gained with a larger workforce, therefore they chose keep women at work. It wasn't because of any form of equal rights. However, these white men who made the decision, worried, 'if women stayed in the work place who would bring up the children and clean the homes?'. Enter the slow cooker (just one of many examples of inventions men made to 'help' the women). The marketing teams, all of which were white men, decided that to sell this product they had to make the women feel as though they wouldn't be able to have both a career and a family or a home. They also realised that a way of selling them would be to say that if you didn't have the slow cooker you wouldn't be either a good employee, because you'd have to go home at lunch and dinner to cook for your family, or a good mother or wife because you'd be too busy at work to feed your families and keep them happy. And so it began, the viscous cycle of thinking that by owning an object it would make our lives easier, whilst making ourselves and those around us happier, all at the same time as having it all. Hey presto, marketing and influencing changed over night and now it's not just for women, it's on every single thing that is sold to us.
The lesson in this - don't let other people make you feel as though you are not enough because of what you have, who you are or what you do. You are enough. but if you ever feel as though you're not, don't beat yourself up. Find out what would make you happier in that situation and take control.
Being the best and why we're all destined to fail at it
What is being the 'best'; friend? mother? daughter? sister? partner? wife? employee? leader? mentor? (this list could go on). Seriously, what does that mean? what are we striving for and why? Is it because we feel as though we could do more or we've let others down? Is it because we feel like we've let ourselves down. In which case, dust it off as history, mark what you would do differently next time, apologise if you need to, and move on learning from your mistakes. I bet you though, that most of the time you're trying your best and you can only do what you can do. I see it with friends of mine who are mothers all the time. They put so much pressure on themselves to do everything perfectly, when actually is that realistic? As long as you are kind and loving, whilst keeping your child safe, feed and happy, that is enough. How about at work? There have been times in my career where I've wondered whether me being me is enough or even too much and maybe I would be better if I was like someone else. one of the worst, for me, is feeling enough with friends. It's ludicrous, my friends are my actual sole mates in life, I know that of course I am enough for them and for our relationships, but every now and again I wonder if I am being enough of a good friend.
This feeling of wanting to be the best person we can, live the best life we can is destined to fail because even when we are doing the best we can we don't feel like it is enough. We're doomed. Everyone is usually just doing their best, so why do we feel like our best isn't good enough. Stop it! It is! We are enough and I bet you there is someone looking at you think 'cor, she's amazing. I wish I could be like her'. What if we changed our use of the word 'best' with 'happy'? instead of striving for the best, we strive for the happiest. instead of breaking ourselves and feeling like constant failures questioning everything we do, we ask ourselves what and who makes us happy and seek that / them out instead?
Ohhhhh social media you have a lot to answer for, don't you? Hands up who's looked at an instagram post from someone else and it's made you feel like you're not enough or what you're doing isn't enough? Yep, thought so, we all have. The nature of social media and the licence it gives us to be our own authors means that we only share the best and the worst. No one shares the in-between, the mundane and the boring. We share because we are all a bunch of peacocks wanting to showoff, excite, inspire, laugh and share what's happening with each other. Most of the time we only share the best parts - our wonderful holidays, our best friends, our house renovations, the fantastic businesses, our wonderful families, and our achievements. And they are achievements! Celebrate them, celebrate you and shout it from the roof tops, you've worked hard to get there. But you, the voyer, the looker on, don't go thinking that their #bestlife is or would be yours #bestlife. Your life is your #bestlife (hate that hashtag!). Don't you go letting it question whether you're enough. No, no, bring yourself back from the edge, scroll past and say 'good on ya', however hard it may be. BUT (big but), if you find yourself posting on social media about a life choice you have made, don't you go making anyone else feel less than because they haven't chose it. We've all got our insecurities whilst also having things that we love and make us who we are. Lets change the language we use and instead of wanting to 'influence', lets share to make others happy, laugh and confident. Let's celebrate life and one another and acknowledge that showing off, is just that, you're showing off.
Enough is enough
There will inevitably be times when I feel like I am not enough. There will also be times when in fact, I'm not! That's fine, I'm not perfect, but nor is anyone else. I wanted to write this blog not to share the fact that I have the secret to changing this pattern of behaviour, but to recognise it and to share it as I know that so many other females (yes indeed, it's usually females that feel this way) have the same feelings. Maybe, if we all spoke about it a little more, it wouldn't feel as taboo to feel it, or confused with jealously and envy. Maybe we would go easier on ourselves and others if and when what we do or say makes others feel this way. Maybe, just maybe when we feel this way we could take a breath, step back and notice why we're feeling that way rather than getting hung up on the feeling itself. It might be showing us that we do want something in our lives that we currently don't have. Maybe it'll show us that actually the thing that's making us feel it is tonic and not healthy, so to remove ourselves from it entirely. Or it might be that you're being made to feel that way because society has conditioned us to be competitive with one another and marketing makes us feel as though we must have what they're selling to make us happier and more fulfilled. In which case, call it out either publicly or privately. But know, whatever makes you question whether you are enough, in whatever circumstance know that right now, right where you are, you are and will always be enough. If you're ever made to feel any less, then it's time to rethink the situation and do something that makes you happy.
I'm going to try this one out to see how it goes - when I'm feeling like I'm not enough or if there is a situation which is making me feel like it, I am going to recite to myself, 'You do you and I'll do me, because being me is enough.'
Sending you, wherever you are, lots of love,