"Not ______ Enough"
"I am not good enough"
I've recently gone on a writing hiatus. Since my previous blog post, I've not written for more than two months. It's not because I had nothing to write about - my mind was constantly teeming with ideas. Rather, it was because I was afraid that my ideas were not good enough. I was always thinking: "What should I write that would interest others?" "I need to create better and more impressive content." But these were met with subsequent thoughts starting from "How do I do that?" to "I don't know how to do that", and finally to "I can't do that."
Over these past few weeks as I was faced with such blockage, I tried not to ponder too much about it. I always dismissed my unwillingness or perceived inability to write as a sign of laziness. On hindsight, I definitely was holding myself back. But before I realised this yesterday, that I was not doing something I love, my life fell into disarray. I spent my weekends mindlessly watching shows. I barely did anything else. Even as those moments of leisure delighted me, I always ended up feeling unhappy and disappointed with myself for wasting time. A sense of emptiness started to grow within me. I thought it was because I wasn't spending enough time with people, so I tried doing that. But that feeling of loss didn't go away. Only when I forced myself to confront it did I realise that this forlornness was due to a deep sense of unclarity. It's an uneasiness because I was unhinged and obscured from the things which centre and strongly anchor me. The things I love and want to do with my life, masked under a tight combination of unclearness and my persistent belief of "I can't".
Yesterday, it dawned upon me that over these past few weeks, I've lost sight of why I started blogging in the first place, which is to write for myself and not for others. When I was so caught up in generating the "best" and "most desirable" content for other people, I began to approach things from a perspective of scarcity - "This idea is not good enough. I can't convey it well enough. Others can do it better than me. I am not good enough.'
For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is "I didn't get enough sleep." The next one is "I don't have enough time." Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don't have enough of...Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we're already inadequate, already behind. already losing...And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds are racing with a litany of what we didn't get, or didn't get done, that day... This mindset of scarcity, lives at the very heart of our jealousies, our greed, our prejudice, and our arguments with life...
If I were to take note of every time I found myself lacking, my list would be a series of repeated "I'm not good enough"s and "I'm not smart enough"s. This culture of scarcity that has strongly defined our lives and how we live it is extremely real. When we thumb through pages of Facebook or Instagram on our phones and compare the few 'likes' we have to someone's many 'likes' and 'shares', we learn that we're "not popular enough". When we see that we're less successful than others, maybe academically or financially, we learn that we're "not working hard enough" or "not intelligent enough". And when we admire the perfectly chiseled faces and bodies of celebrities, we tell ourselves "we're not attractive enough". A commonality which runs through these notions is a continuous comparison to a perceived 'standard'. Ironically, we "can't compare enough". Cliches are cheesy but true: There is no end to comparison. We can keep comparing but to us, there will always be someone smarter, more popular, or more beautiful. And that becomes our truth, a fact we create and live in that stems from our fundamental belief that we are inherently inadequate. Soon enough, we are flooded by 'Not Enough's, and our lives are lives of 'Not Enough's. That's a pretty pathetic life to live.
At this point we ask, "But how can we not compare with others?" We're social creatures and we're constantly surrounded by people. So yes, it's hard not to compare. Yet, it's a constant conversation we have with ourselves, asking ourselves why we're comparing, who we're comparing with, who these people are to us. Underpinning these questions is the most important question of "What do we want?". Intention is the core of the doing of activities. What do we want at this moment? What do we want to achieve in our lives? That sheds light on why we're comparing in the first place.
There were moments in my life when I was fully assured of what I wanted. The "what" shone so brightly I proudly wore it on like a suit of shining armour - "I have arrived. I know what I want". Of course, I wish these moments were everlasting. That I have arrived, full stop. But reality is not like that. In fact, the "what" goes through phases of perspicuity and fuzziness. To put it otherwise, we're always trying to sharpen the armour. Going through repeated processes of focused inquiry is hard work, but it's hard work which translates to a deeper appreciation of ourselves and the people around us.
Viewing our comparisons with openness and a non-judgemental form of curiosity unlocks a whole new world of connective inquiry and understanding. It steers us towards a common dialogue of compassion and empathy. Instead of carrying out the kinds of superficial juxtapositions to others ("He has this, I don't have it"), which antagonises and causes distance, being empathetic allows us to look beyond his accolades, love him for who he is, and also to love ourselves for who we are and what we have done/are doing. Contrary to a "lack thereof" (which causes disconnection and disengagement with others), we begin to form narratives that exude abundance: "This is important to him. He does it wholeheartedly" and "I want this, I am fully committed to it and I do it wholeheartedly too". Instead of differences, similarities emerge. We start and maintain conversations over similarities. We connect with each other over the things we love.
"They are not ______ enough"
Likewise, it's commonplace for us to pass judgement of others: "She's not skinny enough." or "He's not normal enough." More often than not, our views of others accurately reflect our beliefs that again, there is a certain 'standard' to ascribe to, which we are either proud of achieving, or ashamed of not attaining. So maybe it's not so much that others affect us, maybe we're ashamed of subscribing to these 'standards' ourselves.
I'm a believer that life is all about conversations, emotions and connections. My daily musings about beliefs and choices get me thinking about all the things we do in the world and why we do them. A friend once asked me this question which still remains relevant to me: Why do you wake up in the morning? For me, I get out of bed everyday to make the world a better place. To live fully, richly, wholeheartedly and enable others to do the same. There isn't time to waste on 'Not Enough's. It's enough. You are enough.