Today I'm welcoming Sarah Belbeck to the blog. Sarah is probably one of the most authentic (and also intelligent) people that I've met and that's why I asked her to come share today. I think sometimes authenticity can feel rare and fragile and I want to choose to surround myself with it. This is what Sarah has to say...
by Sarah Belbeck
"I can't do it. Look, everybody else can. What's wrong with me?"
I could feel myself start the beatdown. I am trying (insert literally anything) for the first time in my life and I couldn't do it. I told myself all sorts of things.
Obviously, I am stupid or broken.
Obviously, I am worse than everybody else.
Obviously, everybody else cares about what I am doing and will mock me for failing.
Obviously, I should be perfect and recognized for my abilities after a single attempt at something new.
You might think this is a gross exaggeration, and that there's no possible way anyone could ever feel this way. People have to learn; we all start somewhere. We usually all start in the same position. But I know you've also all met someone who was what we call a "natural" at something. The people who we hold in high regard because we imagine they can do no wrong. They seem to do well at everything they attempt. It's normal to compare yourself to others. And jealousy comes all too easily.
See, I expect to be a professional at everything I attempt. I see people do something cool or interesting or worthy in my eyes, and I want to be able to do it the same way; if not better. I wouldn't exactly call it a competitive nature, this emotion that bubbles up inside me. Maybe it's a lack of sympathy. The majority of people who are good at something have put a lot of time, effort, and even money into their skills. I am the one who mocks when I expect to do better when I've done absolutely nothing to earn it. I just want to be good enough right now. There's that desire for instant gratification that our elders are always poking fun at "kids these days" for. I have the head knowledge that being good at something takes more than five seconds. But my insecurity, my desire to be enough when I never feel like I could be, takes over.
I can think of things in my life I've done and been recognized for. But I often I push people away who are kind to me by making them feel like their praise isn't enough. Others are never as hard on me as I am on myself. Sometimes people say I'm creative, I can draw well, I'm a good writer. But I don't consider myself worthy of praise in any area of interest I have, despite what I'm told. I know perfection can't be attained; I pass on this nugget of wisdom to many of my friends who constantly try to please everyone. So why am I so hard on little old me?
Deep down, I know I'm good enough. It takes a little digging sometimes, but I know I can do a lot of things I put my mind to and my heart into. My desire to try new things and want to gain new skills can be enough to get me going, instead of feeling sad and low. And even if I'm not good enough right now, whether it's writing an essay or playing a sport or instrument, I can always improve. There's a strange line between accepting yourself wherever you are -- feeling like you're enough -- and striving for more.
So, this is an address to anyone I've ever been jealous of or compared myself to. I know you didn't magically get good at dancing or singing or writing or making sculptures. You loved those things, and you wanted to be good at them, and that was enough for you.
This is also an address to myself. There's nothing wrong with me. I'm not good at everything. I'm not perfect. It's okay to make mistakes and fail and not feel like I'm good enough. What matters is what I do with those feelings.
And finally, this is an address to anyone who wants to feel like they're enough. I'm certain you are good right now - just as you are. In fact, I know you are! But I challenge you to channel your negative energy elsewhere; channel it towards yourself, yes, but positively! Turn the negative into something that can make you feel like you're good enough to keep trying. I promise that you are.
This is day twenty-eight. You can find the rest of this series right here.
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