When I think about vulnerability, I think about feeling worthy, and how for much of my life I did not feel worthy. I believe I am not alone. So many of us need that constant approval that we are good enough.
We check our status – how many likes did I receive? We look in the mirror – how much weight did I gain? We look at our bank accounts – how much money did I make?
How do we stop looking for that outside approval?
To begin to feel worthy, let’s first start with why we feel like we are not enough?
I have been a stay at home mom for over eighteen years, and just as long, I have had the feeling I was supposed to be doing something else, too. It stemmed from giving up a six figure job to raise my children. I am proud of this choice, and my children. So I ask myself, why am I still searching for that career, the one that would put me on the map. What map, and where I would land, I had no idea. Ideally, it would be oceanfront. I would have a room with a view. Beyond that? I just knew I was not there – yet.
So I kept running. Around the block, on a trail, through my days, hours and years. While, wondering if there was something else for me to do, I did what life put in front of me – changing diapers, paying bills, planning birthday parties, editing school papers. Supporting, loving, encouraging, managing the life of our family.
And then it hit me. I could never do enough. There always had to be something more to do, to become, to achieve. If you are chasing what is outside, that imaginary finish line keeps moving.
What would be enough, really? A six figure income? A child who attends Ivy league university? The largest house on the street? Best selling author? Fittest body? Longevity? A viral video?
I think back to high school when we all voted in our year book. We voted in categories such as prettiest, nicest eyes, nicest smile, best dressed, most athletic, along with most likely to succeed. What about the categories of most likely to help someone whose car has gone off the road, or most likely to help a child in need? Or how about most likely to pick up and drive to Washington D.C. to protest what is near and dear to his heart? Most likely to start the #metoo movement which will change the lives of millions of women? Most likely to open her heart, fully and honestly with those she loves? Or how about most likely to survive life?
Maybe so many of us feel unworthy because we just have our priorities confused as to what measures success. I have seen women leave an abusive relationship after ten years, and if that is not a measure of success than I am not sure what is. I have witnessed people becoming sober after thirty years of drinking heavily. I have heard the stories of adults surviving childhood abuse, getting knocked down time and again, and still picking himself back up, making a difference in our world. I have watched people lose everything and need to live out of their car. I have observed grieving parents endure the lost of a child, and people lose loved ones in a natural or human-made disaster.
To start feeling like we are enough, to understand why so many of us feel unworthy, we need to first change our priorities, change our definition of what is success. I survived migraine headaches as a child and chronic sinus headaches as an adult – pain that kept me in bed for days. I made it through the devastation of pregnancy loss, a category 5 hurricane and putting our family dog to sleep that we loved dearly. My success included breaking the cycle of abuse, raising my children to love themselves while also helping rescue dogs.
I am not unique.
If you have survived middle school, when raging hormones bully their way into your entire being creating monster emotions, you are a success. If you endured even a year of high school, you deserve more than a pat on the back. You deserve a standing ovation. Working each day when you’d rather be on the golf course, giving birth, holding another’s hand, listening to a child, walking a dog, preparing dinner for loved ones, even getting out of bed in the morning when you’d rather hide under the covers is a wonderful measure of success. Speaking up and out against hatred or deciding that today is the day, you begin whispering kind words to your own heart.
Everyone serving our country in any way, shape or form deserves the highest honor of success. So does the one who steps out of her house after years of suffering with agoraphobic symptoms. The one who creates her own fashion statement, and the one who makes a mistake and says, “I am sorry.” The one who gets a C in chemistry. The one who drops out of college. The one who plants a tree. The one who smiles at a stranger on the street. The one who fails. The one who is rejected. The one who is breathing.
If you are human, you are a success story. If you are alive, you are enough.
We need to cut the cord with the long term belief that feeling like we are enough is tied to any outside source.
It is not about feeling like you have done enough, but knowing that you are enough.
You are not your past – that was just your experience
You are not your future – it is still unwritten
You are not your children’s successes, nor their failures
You are not your zip code or your occupation
You are not your age
You are not the words said to you in judgment or anger
You are not your fears, anxieties or depression
You are not your clean house or dirty feet
You are not your thoughts
You are not your body
You are not your age
You are not your clothes, your weight or your hair color
You are not the numbers glaring back at you from your bank account
You are not your gender or sexual orientation
Who are you?
You are a gift
You are loved
You are worthy
You are enough
Peel back those outside layers of not enough. Be the first to come out of the closet with who you really are. And the second, and the last. Walk away from a battered relationship no matter how many times you have gone back. Tell your story with your heart pounding and our palms sweating, saying yes, this happened to me, but it does not define me.
Worthiness is building our selves back up from the inside out. It is letting go of comparisons and likes from others, and finding that place within our own heart that is gentle, loving and compassionate – with ourself.
Worthiness is honoring how we feel. It is putting our self first, saying no, and standing up for someone who has not yet found the courage.
Deep down, we are all worthy, good, and whole. If someone took that from you, told you differently or pulled you apart until you felt like your heart was split into a million pieces, it is time for you to put your self back together. It is time to say each and every day – I love my self no matter what. I love all my imperfect cracks, my shitting mornings, my weirdness and my lack of motivation. It is saying that was then, this is now. Yesterday does not define tomorrow.
I am not there yet, but I am getting closer to feeling good enough. In the meanwhile, I keep in mind that hurt people, hurt people. And loved people, love people.
Today, I choose love.
Today, love wins.
Do something nice for your self today. Do it because it is finally time, to start telling your self the truth.
You are enough.
Please excuse any grammatical errors, as my editor is on a permanent vacation in the Bahamas.
Coming soon: My co-authored book, Living Beyond Fear, due out at Christmas!