“I hope that one day I find a passion I can turn into a career as you have.”
I read the comment on my blog and felt flattered and anxious at the same time. I immediately began to focus on everything that was wrong with that statement … But I don’t make enough money… But I lack direction… But I’m not doing enough, being enough, and trying hard enough.
Within a two-second timeframe, my head was filled with all the things I thought I lacked. I seemed to have completely forgotten about my passion for writing as I sat there and mentally amplified my perceived shortcomings.
I have a bad habit of consistently searching for all the ways I don’t measure up. My developing writing career seems to be the main area of my life that this negative energy is directed towards.
Ever since childhood, I’ve had a deep-rooted desire to please others and be liked. The shunning and ostracization I endured in elementary and middle school led to approval-seeking habits that I still carry with me today.
The first time these people pleasing habits were truly tested was after I graduated into the “real world” and was suddenly expected to have a solid plan and get my life together (or so it seemed). My friends all went off to college and started landing jobs, and not knowing what to do with my own life, I did nothing. As the end of high school approached, I impressed everyone with my post high school plans. But I didn’t fool them for long, considering none of those plans saw the light of day.
I soon learned that life doesn’t always turn out the way we plan and that we don’t have to have it all figured out at 18. When I stopped obsessing over what I thought I should be doing, I was able to focus on what I really wanted to be doing. Writing was an immense source of comfort during my post high school blues, so I decided to try pursuing it as a career. After getting published a few times and landing my first real gig, I discovered I was very passionate about it.
I’ve been writing and blogging for about three years now, but every now and then I notice that my “not good enough” attitude still isn’t far behind. Although I’ve gotten much better over the years, I still stand in my own way on an almost daily basis. I still thrive off of external validation that I’m on the right track.
If I land a dreamy gig, I seize up and wonder if I’m qualified enough to pull it off.
If I read an article that I could have written, I beat myself up for not writing it first.
If I hear about the success of another writer or blogger in my niche, I repeatedly tell myself that I’m not trying hard enough and dig myself into a hole of shame.
If my income is consistently skimpy and practically non-existent, I conclude that writing isn’t worth my while and that I should get a “real job” like everyone else.
If I get 100 positive comments on an article I wrote, I hone in on the one negative comment.
If I wake up one morning feeling discouraged and flat, I choose to watch hours of daytime television instead of simply showing up and working, regardless of the results I cultivate.
As I write this very article, I am picking apart each sentence and wondering if I should rewrite the whole thing.
Yet, despite all of this self-doubt and shame, I am wildly passionate about what I do and cannot bear the thought of ever giving it up. My writing is my child, my lover, and my best friend all wrapped into one. Writing gives me a reason to wake up some mornings, offers me an escape from the general messiness of life, listens to my deepest, darkest thoughts, and connects me with the incredibly kind and brave humans that contact me regularly.
I have received countless emails and comments about my work. I’ve offered hope and inspiration to people going through horrific struggles that I can’t even begin to imagine. I’ve motivated people to follow their own passions, create their own visions, and pave their own paths. When I am tempted to measure my worth by monetary gain, work load, or external success, I can’t help but wonder if real success comes from changing lives and spreading love in the best way you know how. I can’t help but wonder if passion and connection is worth more than money and notoriety in the end.
I suspect I will always struggle with finding my “enoughness.” I will have days where I feel like I’ve finally found it, and I will have days where I feel like I never will. I will succeed at some things and fail at others. I will have moments of empowering self-confidence and moments of depreciating self-hatred. I will experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
I am slowly learning what it means to be human. I am slowly learning that being alive has nothing to do with a hefty bank account or the validation of others. I am slowly learning that being enough means doing the best you can with what you have and where you are.
And at the end of the day, maybe we’re all just doing the best we can.