During my current “job/purpose/life
direction/authenticity+security” search, a friend suggested a workbook to me.
Yesterday, I downloaded it on Audible (yay, free trial!) and began to listen to
it as I upkept my house, doing laundry from the camping trip, unpacking my bags
from it. And one of the questions it asks a few chapters in, is one I
paused the audio to write down and answer for myself:
“What is the one question I’m afraid to ask myself?”
I was both very quick and slow in my answer. Quick, in that
I knew immediately what the question was; slow, in how hesitantly I
wrote it on the page, one halting letter at a time:
“Do I think I’m good enough?”
Below this question, I wrote a second one: “What scares me
about being with people?”
I drew an arrow from my second answer to my first.
Do I think I’m good enough?
It’s easy to give a knee-jerk, Yes, of course I do. But this question is the quiet force of
erosion that hollows out all my actions, my self-esteem, and my ambition.
Interestingly, the question I’m most afraid to ask myself is
not: “Am I good enough?” That one is
much easier for me to answer affirmatively. It’s the part about “thinking” – do
I think I’m good enough – that
And therefore, the thinking is the part that I must step
away from. That I must begin to give less credence to. Because what follows
from that question is, “If I don’t think I’m good enough, do you?” And from
here, I begin to place my self-worth in the hands of others who likely rub up
against their own self-imposed limitations, and can’t possibly answer that for
me in a way, like I said the other day, “that I can feel.”
My ex-boyfriend used to use a word that became an in-joke
with us, because it bothered me so much, and he loved to see me get rankled: Adequate.
He deemed things adequate, and this incensed me! Things are never adequate, I’d retort. They’re either good or not good. The
food wasn’t “adequate,” it was delicious or it was bland. My performance in bed
was never (ever!) “adequate:” it was stunning. (He loved to get me on this one – you
could see steam coming out my ears on this one.)
But, I hated that word beyond anything. I hated the idea of
adequate, of something being “good enough.” What does that even mean??
Very briefly, I watched a t.v. show based on a Stephen King
premise about wish-fulfillment. In it, one of the characters asks the
wish-fullfiller for “enough money.” You can only imagine, in this dark tale,
that “enough” was never enough. There is no exact value for “enough,” and the
woman was always going back for more.
I hated the word adequate, because I interpreted it as
NOT enough. If it were enough – you’d
say that. If it were “adequate,” you’re just giving a “nice” word to something
My ex’s game shows me, now, that my rancor against that word
was because I was living in a definition of “good enough” that meant NOT good
enough. I always hear the phrase with an inflection on the end that indicates
the shoulder-shrug: “Good enough.
What does good enough
mean to me? What does adequate mean to me? Can these be positively interpreted?
Because the massive secret is that if does mean good enough, then there’s nothing to stop me from
the pursuit of joy, fulfillment, and living a whole life. If I can change my
understanding of “good enough” to mean, in fact, good enough (without the
shoulder shrug), then the self-doubt falls away, or lessens greatly.
I am a good enough writer. I am a good enough woman. I am
emotionally healthy enough to be in partnership. I am perseverant enough to
continue producing art. I am good enough to submit work.
Some (all?) of these sound strange in my mouth, like it’s filled
with marbles, awkwardly forming words that I’ve never said before, or have been
too dubious to utter. Some of them I so desperately want to believe, I fear
saying them at all, for fear that I’ll fuck it up.
It will always be my brain that thinks – but it will always
be my soul that wants. It’s the vicious impasse that impedes both their efforts that causes me such anguish.
My brain is not strong … enough (ha!) anymore to override
the wantings of my soul. But my soul is not yet bold enough to override the
fearful thinkings of my brain.
The tie-breaker, as always, is the action of my body. I can
type this without my brain’s approval and put it online. I can send an email to
get an audition slot for a musical without my brain’s approval (and believe you, me, I have one chattery brain after sending that email). Action is always
the key to change. Whether it’s my soul in the driver’s seat or my head, they
can engage in the battle of the century behind my eyes, but meanwhile, my foot is pressing the gas, and I appear
to be showing up – adequately.