I don’t know when it happened—I can’t recall that first moment when I started to feel as if I wasn’t good enough. I do remember a time before. A time when I felt confident. A time when I felt as though I always gave everything I had and it was enough.
But then, at some point in my youth I started believing that in most things I attempted to do I was good, but not good enough.
- I played sports well enough to make the team, but not enough to play in the games.
- I was liked by the others in school well enough for them to be kind to me, but not enough for them to include me in most activities.
I could make this list longer, but I won’t. The point of this post is not to drum up sympathy for the girl who used to be me. The point is that somewhere along the way I started to believe I wasn’t good enough, and unfortunately that feeling has stayed with me. It’s the main reason I have such difficulty accepting criticism. It’s not that I think the person criticizing me (or my performance, or my books, or whatever) is wrong, it’s that I think they are right. I try my best to look for the ‘constructive’ side of criticism, but I usually end up back in the mentality that I’m not good enough. Which sucks, because I do believe that constructive criticism leads to overall improvement. Eventually I pull myself out of it, but it’s an emotionally draining process and sometimes it takes a while.
As I’ve reflected on this destructive belief over the years, I think it began the year I ran cross country in middle school. I was already on the track team, and the coaches convinced me to give cross country a shot. I was a short distance runner—100, 200, and 400 relay. And I was fast. I usually took home second or third place. My relay team was undefeated. But it turned out that long distance wasn’t my thing. I didn’t like it, and I wasn’t very good at it. I would use just about every excuse to get out of running in practice. I didn’t perform well in the meets. As a kid who was used to being one of the runners to beat, it was difficult to fade into the middle of the pack. There is one day that I remember in particular.
It was the last cross country meet of the season, and I didn’t want to run. I hated the course, which started and ended with a steep hill. Not far into the run, I stepped in a hole and fell. I sat on the ground and watched all the other runners leave me behind. I sat there and thought, “They’ve all passed me. I’m not fast enough to win, and now I’m going to come in last. I don’t want to be last. I could just not finish. I could pretend that I hurt my ankle too much to keep running.” I looked down at my ankle and I thought about it. Really thought about it. I took a deep breath, stood up—then I moved my legs and started to run.
I finished the race.
But the thing is, I hated every second of that run. Don’t get me wrong, I was proud of myself for finishing the race when all I wanted to do was quit. However, I was clouded by the feeling of not being good enough. That’s really what was going through my mind when I was sitting on the ground, staring after all the other runners. I never felt good enough to win the race to begin with, so why not quit when given a guise to do so?
That moment has stuck with me over the years to remind me that even if I don’t feel good enough to do something to the level of my expectations, I am good enough to not quit.
I have my moments. I don’t always know what triggers them, but they are there. My confidence slips. I start telling myself why I can’t do things. I start comparing myself to others who are more successful. But then God sends someone my way. Someone who says just what I need to hear, right when I need to hear it.
- It’s the coworker I only know by face who suddenly stops at my desk and says, “I wanted to tell you that you look nice today.”
- It’s the random lady riding by on her bike who calls out to me, “You look really nice!”
- It’s the email from someone who has read one of my books, telling me how much it has helped her heal.
These are just a few of the moments over the years when God has provided me with the words I needed to hear. The words slip past my walls of defense, and then I remember that girl sitting in the grass trying to find the will to quit. I remember that she didn’t quit, and it’s enough to jump start my confidence again.
Recently I’ve slipped into the ‘not good enough’ mode in my Journey to FIT. I think it’s because I’m approaching a turning point in my life. My 2-year leave is up in mid-June, and I have to make a decision about going back to work or quitting. And remember, I don’t like to quit. Logically I know that I wouldn’t be quitting, but rather moving on to different things—mother, wife, writer. However, in my heart it feels like quitting. Not only that, but Cummins has been a major part of my identity for 19 years. This past year and a half when someone would ask what I do my response was, “I’m on leave from Cummins.” If I quit, I won’t have that anymore.
Suddenly I’m not feeling good enough in all aspects of my life. I don’t feel good enough to be able to work and manage my family and get healthy at the same time. It’s also made me start thinking about my whole approach to the $10k challenge I signed up for. I’ve commented that I signed up because I do better when people are watching. And that’s true, however I’ve also finally admitted that I’ve approached it this way because I don’t feel like I’m good enough to win. And if I’m not good enough to win, why kill myself by going all out—I could just do enough to finish at the end of the pack. I’d still make progress and get healthy, but I won’t be disappointed by not being good enough to win.
And just as He has done before, God has put people in my path to tell me what I need to hear.
- I’ve had a 10 weeker tell me that she’d like to get be like me on the mat.
- I’ve had FIT members, who I admire, tell me that I’m hard to keep up with on the bag.
- I had someone tell me that I inspired her by not quitting during my pyramid sit-ups, even when I was the last to finish (by at least a minute).
- I’ve had a friend tell me that my blog inspired her to change her life.
And once again I’m thinking about that time I sat in the grass trying to quit, but instead took a deep breath and started running. I want to finish my Journey to FIT just as I finished that race all those years ago. However, for the first time I’m looking at that moment a little differently.
This time I don’t want to hate every second of the race. This race is about changing my life, and I don’t want to ‘just finish’. I want to fight for first, even if I fall down.
I’m using all the complements I’ve received recently to fuel a new fire. One that doesn’t just get me off the ground, but one that surges me forward. A new fire that reminds me that I’m not good enough.
I’m MORE than enough.
It may take some time, and I know it will take a lot of effort, but I’m determined to believe it.