self help / women

When I Am Not Enough

Roosevelt Comparison

It is so hard. To wake up and say “today I am enough. No matter what the outcome, no matter what chores go unfinished, what absurd things come out of my mouth, no matter what clothes no longer fit right I AM ENOUGH,” is really freakin’ difficult. For the past few weeks I have struggled to believe this. I can say it, but rarely am I able to find the reasoning to support the statement.

Today I looked at my house, the piles of books and unsorted papers in my workspace, the cards purchased and unsent for occasions that have long passed and said aloud “I am not enough.” In my efforts to let go of perfection I find our house in disarray. There is not utter chaos but art projects that haven’t decided whether they live forever or end up in the trash are scattered on every horizontal space, bags of toys that have gone to various functions or day trips are found unpacked in every room, and I missed the appointment to get new tires put on my car to argue with my husband why all of this is just fine, while all the time knowing that I am simply not doing enough.

Sure, I have been spending my extra time playing with my son or spending time with my husband, Markus, I’m not laying on the couch watching hours of pointless television. I haven’t stopped cooking and ordered take-out every night. This blog has been read in sixteen countries so far. I sit and try to write honestly about the hard things for a couple of hours a week instead of going out and partying with friends. My husband thinks I am beautiful and wants to be with me, I get positive attention from people when I go out so I must not look like a hideous monster but when I look in the mirror I only see the twenty pounds I have put on in the last two years.

I am a fairly reasonable person. I can look at our household schedule, a list of completed tasks, hear my husband and son playing happily in the yard and see that our house isn’t completely in shambles and know that things are pretty good, I really am making the cut. But when I hold up my living room to the pictures on Pinterest and in the parenting magazines what I see is that I am not putting in enough effort. When I look at the plated meal I am about to serve my family I see that it is very different from the photo on the website where I got the recipe. When I look at myself in the mirror in a new dress, with my hair blown out, makeup on, and accessories in place I think “that’s pretty good, awesome” and then almost immediately go to “too bad this is the exception to the rule. Remember, when you used to always look put together instead of just on special occasions?” The truth is that I probably am enough, but when I hold up my reality against what I see in the media and what I believe is the accepted rule, it’s just not cutting it. Comparison has made “I am enough” impossible.

The next guidepost to Wholehearted Living is actually “Cultivating Creativity: Letting Go of Comparison.” I’m fully planning to write about creativity, but it just now occurred to me that not being able to let go of comparison is the biggest obstacle getting in the way of not feeling like I am enough. Brené Brown says

“Letting go of comparison is not a to-do list item. For most of us, it’s something that requires constant awareness. It’s so easy to take our eye off our path to check out what others are doing and if they’re ahead or behind us…without comparison, concepts like ahead or behind or best or worst lose their meaning.”

How many of you have spent hours on Pinterest looking at great organizational tips or ways to turn someone else’s curbside junk into a beautiful headboard? Do you have a board for the projects you want to try, the recipes you want to make, and the outfits you want to wear? It seems so easy! Thousands of people are doing this and living these really well organized, beautiful lives every day, right? Probably not. They take pictures of the things that work and the processes that have been helpful for them. What we don’t see is the dining room table heaped with odds and ends or the credit card statement overwhelmed by purchases to put together that 17 piece outfit.

I have over 20 Pinterest boards for various purposes. I subscribe to several household magazines and for some reason still get Time Out New York every week. All of these things are telling me that I could be doing more! There are colors and toss pillows I’m not using properly, there are crafts that I could be doing with my son, Aidan, there are concerts in the park I could be seeing with Markus. WHY AREN’T YOU DOING ALL OF THESE THINGS!?!? That is what they say.

No wonder I don’t feel like I am enough right now. Here I am, not asking for you to tell me that I am really doing a good job with all of it, but saying “hey, we are all in the same boat.” There isn’t one of us who doesn’t go to bed with a couple of things left on our to-do list. There isn’t one of us who doesn’t wish we had more time, more money, or a nicer car/cleaner house/firmer ass. At the end of the day what we can do is to show a little compassion and forgiveness to the person across the street and the person staring back from the mirror so that when we have a hard time saying “I am enough” there is a little room to make that statement true.

**Disclaimer: while finishing this post I am thinking that what I should really be doing is organizing Aidan’s closet. Practice…

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One thought on “When I Am Not Enough

  1. Pingback: Me and Brené, Cultivating Creativity | My Voice. My Vision.

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