Monday, August 5, 2013

I am enough

I have enjoyed Sachi's last posts so much, and there is a lot I want to write about my own country's traditions too. Yet today I want to share this bold statement above: I am enough.
There couldn't be a bolder statement for a person like me, and maybe for a person like you, too?
Yet this is something that has grown on me over the last few months, and something that has taken a more precise, definite shape, tone and meaning since I've started reading Brené Brown's book The Gifts of Imperfection.
The subtitle in itself will tell you a lot: 'Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are'. That says it all (almost!), folks!
 These last months, what with health worries, personal challenges to face, and beloved ones to take care of,  I've had to slow down temporarily my pace, I've had to accept the reality of time that passes, the necessity of simplifying daily routines. I've found out that sometimes one trying moment paves the way to an energizing one, that troubled times can lead to another era, a better one. I've had to admit that I had to take care of myself too, if not for me, for my family's sake. And then I started reading Brené Brown's book and I thought, 'oh my God, she is right!'
It all boils down, really, to the simple fact that we are enouh, no matter how much we accomplish. It is not about giving up and becoming slothful creatures; it is about acknowledging our worth. For me it spells out what I've been discovering on my own: I don't need to overdo it or be a super mom/wife/friend to be worth something. I don't have to earn the love I can receive.
The way we are brought up, the pressure society puts on us, all this leads us to fight for worth. Plus, I've been a perfectionist for so long. Now I realize perfectionism can stem from an unfocused vision of our objectives. As the author points out, perfectionism often isn't self-focused (how can I improve?), it is other-focused (what will they think?). It usually lies on the belief that if we are perfect, we will minimize the pain of being criticized or judged. As she points out too, this is a lost battle. You are never going to be totally perfect or avoid all negative comments. And you won't avoid the pain of being judged either. Approval, recognition, acceptance, those are not to be looked for in the first place.
Brené Brown also insists that 'we are a nation of exhausted adults raising overscheduled children'. We forget our natural, biological rhythms. At the end of her work she explains how she and her husband made a practical 'joy and meaning' list (the things that made them happy, basically) and a 'dream list' (things to accomplish). Here is what she says, when they compared both lists: 'we realized that by merely letting go of the list of things we want to accomplish, we would actually be living our dream - not striving to make it happen in the future, but living it right now'. As she says, this is rather counterculture. We produce, we consume, we accomplish, we race, we compare, we aim at perfection and achievement. She and her husband decided to cut down on extracurricular activities for their daughter, to work less (and earn less, but gain time as a consequence). 
This makes my heart full because this is how I and my husband have chosen to live. I have made the unpopular decision to allow my kids to have only one activity outside school. At home, we sleep late when we can. We linger, we play, we talk, any time we can. We cook. We read. We take care of our garden.
I don't want to rush my kids from school to class, from here to there. I don't want to rush myself. I don't want to earn money at the expense of the time spent with my children. I can't be bothered with having the coolest clothes and acitivities. As Brené Brown writes: 'What if we're normal and quiet and happy? Does that count?'
No judgement here. Some families might have the logistics to do otherwise. Or some may be happier otherwise. But normal people should be valued too. People who take time, don't exhaust themselves, don't earn tons of money, don't learn 6 languages and get the highest scores at whatever they do.
I love to read that what matters in our lives is not what other people think or say or value.
It might sound simple, but it isn't that simple, both as a concept and as a reality.
I have often exhausted myself, I realize that now more clearly than ever, to gain acceptance or approval or affection or consideration. Yet, I am enough.
Most of the things I've done, I'd do again. But for many of them, I'd change one thing: I'd leave other people's comments and criticism out of the picture. And of course there are a few things I'd skip altogether. This makes choices and connections much easier. This helps acknowledging and accepting other people's opinions. This helps trusting oneself.
The beauty of this is that it works both ways.
Everyone else is enough, too. Any kid, any adult, however cool or uncool they are.
Any dude, with or without cool accessories or great achievements, is equally enough.
This leaves mighty room for simple enjoyment.


  1. I loved this. Practically before my first two children were out of diapers, I began to feel this pressure and panic -- did I have them signed up for pre-school yet? Surely my girls would want to take dance. And gymnastics. And surely I'd want to get them going on toddler soccer leagues. As I've grown, gaining surety in my decisions as a mom, and learned to separate what is best for my family from what is expected; I've been able to confidently move along in a much more minimal style (their extra-curricular activities are very minimal), and I've realized that while some of what I felt pressure to do before came from an honest desire to give my kids every opportunity, and even greater part came from the panic of needing to keep up with what everyone else was doing. Great post on many levels.

  2. Thank you Nancy! As you say, part of this pressure comes from a genuine desire to do what's best for our kids. And what's best is different for each of us. But oh, the pressure of keeping up with what could/should be, it is amazing isn't it? Yet as I grow, the feeling of liberty I get from stepping out of this achievement/perfectionist picture is equally intoxicating. I get real satisfaction and serenity from asserting my own modest, quiet point of view, and moving as far away as can be from this panic you mention. So glad to meet someone who shares my view ;)