Some days (many lately), I am overcome by the pressures of life and the expectations put on me by so many people. I struggle with the need to be all things to all people. I think some people are more prone to this fight than others in our way too high-pressure, you-must-do-it-all society. I believe single parents have an extra tough challenge as they not only have to be all things to their children, they sometimes succumb to a need to make up for what is lacking in their children’s lives.
I am no stranger to the pressure to measure up and fit in with outside expectations. I grew up in a small town—the type of place that most people would see as idyllic. But if you have experience with small town life, you know that there is just as much drama in a small town as there is in a large one. There are just fewer people to carry the weight.
Growing up, I fell victim to the playground girl-drama. Nothing about me was ever quite right, and after awhile, I knew I was never going to be enough. My clothes were wrong. I was not pretty enough. My hair never fell flat and straight and perfect. I was not tall enough or talented enough. I was not athletic (…at all, never mind enough). I was not social enough. And despite graduating near the top of my class, I never seemed to be smart enough. There were always people around who were willing to make me feel inadequate because somehow, they were more than enough. Looking back, I thank God I did not grow up in the days of social media.
In an attempt to run away, to escape from the drama, I threw myself into solitary activities in which I could be myself without the pressure from others. I took up the clarinet and later added the flute, the oboe, the piano, and the guitar. From my earliest days, I spent hours lost in the worlds hidden in the pages of the books that lined the shelves of the local library and bookstore. I would become so lost that when I had to stop reading for dinner… or homework… or because the book ended, I would be slightly disoriented as the real world of my home came rushing back into my consciousness. Hadn’t I just been on a grand adventure with Laura or Pippi or Pollyanna? Certainly, here—in the pages of a book—was a place where I never felt the pressure to measure up.
As I grew older, I delved into art and writing. I began to run—initially because I was preparing to coach a high school cross-country team. But the more I ran, the more meaning I found in the rhythm of my steps and the wanderings of my mind. I was soothed and inspired as my muse would often come to play while I was pounding out the miles on the road. It seemed my interests were beginning to blend in ways I hadn’t known they might. And so, the solitary pursuits continued.
Through losing myself in solitude, I found myself in truth. My state of mind began to shift to encompass and accept my enoughness. I became an artist, a writer, a runner. I discovered that even though I might not live up to other people’s standards, I was enough. I had always been enough. The best of me, the me I put out in the world every day, would always be enough. And being enough is a powerful place to be.
But when life gets busy and hectic, I sometimes slip into old patterns of thought. When things aren’t coming together and I can’t please everyone and the people around me are letting me know I am not meeting their needs, my enoughness begins to fade. With a lot of work, a little struggle, and a push to refocus on my needs, I can usually return to enough.
And being enough is important. For all of us. We are all enough.