“If we knew what we were truly capable of, we would astonish ourselves.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

I have a secret. It’s a deep, dark, terrible thing; a fear that boldly follows me to the very farthest reaches of my life. It’s viral. It’s insidious: What if I’m not good enough?

There. I said it. Well technically I typed it, which is almost worse because now it’s out there; permanently cataloged in the vast expanses of the cyber universe to be recalled and scrutinized at will. No givesies-backsies. No do-overs.

“What is she thinking?” you wonder. Stick with me and I think I’ll ultimately seem less crazy…perhaps ;o)

It’s a thought that barely occurs to me these days. I’ve never been a person lacking in confidence, but I have definitely been known to be self critical on more than occasion. Thank the Lord for the fact that your twenties don’t last forever. And your teens, well they barely warrant mention these days.

As many of you know, I recently moved and while I was in the throes of packing/unpacking, I ran across an old journal. It’s a veritable treasure trove of emotional exploration, covering the years between high school graduation and my daughter’s toddlerhood.

In it I spied a conversation I once had with a dear, old friend that had been filed away in my brain left to collect the layers of dust provided by years of life’s distractions. I feel compelled to offer a shout out of thanks to the Universe for guiding me back to this memory.

Perched atop the weathered oak of a reliable old bar stool, my friend–we’ll call her Annie–nervously fidgeted with a crumpled piece of paper she clasped in her anxious hand. The paper had definitely seen better days.  I still remember the look in her eyes as she raised them to meet mine–red, swollen, awash with tears, the pigment of her irises seemed so much more vibrant than usual. Annie was not a weak girl; she was tough and bold and daring. She was fearless and strong and this side of Annie was entirely new to me. I watched, a little shocked, as a tear seared a hot path down the contours of her face.  Annie was broken. She was broken and terrified and completely out of her element in this place of emotional vulnerability.

The conversation that followed was one I’ve had more times than I can count. With friends, family and even myself. She proceeded to share with me this great and terrifying secret that she carried around with her–the same one I myself had. This brave, self-assured girl who would later go on to become a confident, happy woman, shared with me her crippling fear of failure; of never being good enough. She told me of incessant self-criticizing thoughts that permeated every aspect of her life. She, like everyone, suffered from periods of insecurity, but hers could , on occasion, become so intense she felt debilitated. I can still feel my heart break a little when I remember the pain imprinted on her face.

The paper, she confided, was a list of reasons why she was an unacceptable girlfriend as provided by her loser ex-boyfriend. She, in her susceptible state, viewed said list as being nothing short of a detailed accounting of her failures as a human being. The two, she was unable to see, were unrelated.

What we discussed that day went a little something like this:

She listed all of her supposed deficiencies that, I suspected, were the same ones enumerated in that damn missive her ex had so compassionately provided her. With each newly-revealed flaw, she became more and more despondent; more and more hopeless. And I grew to love her just a little bit more right then and there. This wonderful friend of mine who had always been characterized by her hardened shell of immunity was now so endearingly susceptible. It made her seem so human and that made her an even more beautiful person to me. I learned a few valuable lessons that day, not the least of which was that strength and vulnerability are two sides of the same coin. Each compliments the other. A genuinely strong person will not see it as weak to, under the appropriate circumstances, disclose portions of him or herself to others simply out of fear of being considered weak or frail.

We muddled through the harrowing business of climbing out of the emotional holes we tend to dig. She regained her composure, but was changed a bit for the experience. She had gained some perspective. We discussed at great length the merits of her character; that she was not only good enough, but that she far exceeded such a trite characterization. We grabbed an old shoe box and I wrote her a new note to replace the crumbled piece of refuse she had clutched so tightly. In my letter, I sang her praises and held a proverbial mirror for her to reference in the future dark spots life would inevitably offer. We laid it into the bottom of the shoe box and I gave her explicit instructions to fill the box, one note, card or memory at a time, with more accurate opinions of her worth as provided by her loved ones.

A year later she paraded the box out for me to see its contents which included birthday cards and snapshots she had sought and received. As well as notes of appreciation penned on sticky notes and a drawing scribbled in crayon by her neice with the words, “To my favorite aunt. I love you!” scrolled across the top.

She wasn’t the same Annie. She was better than ever and radiated the lauded praise of those who knew and loved her best.

So believe in the mantra that you’re good enough as is–damn good enough. Don’t be afraid to be exactly one hundred percent whoever the Universe made you. Whatever you believe of yourself it had better be good, because that’s precisely who you’ll become. Drag yourself, bodily if need be, from the despairing crevice into which you have fallen and trudge the path to a better place knowing all the while that you are without a doubt supremely worthy of whatever wonderful things the world has in store for you. This paragraph exists as much for my benefit as for anyone else’s . ;o)

And if you ever want to, stop by my place and I’ll show you my shoe box. It gets dragged out on occasion when I have a crummy day and need to remind myself of the same things I told Annie all those years ago.

XOXO

hollie

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” -Oscar Wilde


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