You are good enough. If you don’t believe me now, I promise by the end of this you will.
For 23 years I knew I wasn’t good enough. I couldn’t be good enough: Good Enough was ignorant, even arrogant. Good Enough was weakness. It was a surrender to the Facebook spiritualists hiding their impotence behind hollow rhetoric. Good Enough was complacency. If I was good enough, why would I ever want to be better? The only way I would ever improve was if I recognized I was not good enough.
The moment I stopped telling myself this was the moment I found a vitality I hadn’t realized was missing. You see, if the opposite of depression is vitality, then the enemy of vitality is negative self-perception. Think about your past successes and failures. Try to remember all the times you felt you weren’t good enough, whether you were overwhelmed or just felt inadequate. Now remember all the times you had a taste of success and actually felt like you were good enough. Compare these two sets of memories; which times did you actually feel motivated to improve and succeed? I already know the answer because this is the same process that made me realize my error in thinking. The truth is you only want to be better if you already know you’re good enough.
However, even after going through this mental process, and even after I started recognizing my thinking error whenever it reared its repressive head, I still didn’t know why. Why did my personal motivation die with feelings of inadequacy? Why wouldn’t a “healthy” sense of my own deficiencies spur me on to become better?
Many things in life are possible. But some things are impossible. It’s uncomfortable to think about and it’s catchy to say otherwise but it’s a fact. I’m not talking about the contemporary “impossible” like what Jesus and Lebron James can apparently do. I mean, I get that we can hypothetically think our way into pretty much anything and that what I’m really saying is we are limited in what we can or can’t do only by reality’s given set of conditions, but I’m going to use the word “impossible” because it’s THE CORRECT FREAKING WORD FOR WHAT I JUST FREAKING SAID. If we keep using some diluted definition we’ll drive ourselves insane with our own arrogance. I’m just saying, for being nothing, “impossible” sure kicks real hard. My point is from here forward I will be talking about the real world in which we can do some things and can’t do others. Because if we’re to tackle this topic properly we need to be honest: some things in life are Possible, and some things are Impossible.
Impossible is an important truth to recognize. In the animal kingdom, if you attempt the impossible you die. The only reason all the living things on this planet are still living is because up to this point they have only done what’s Possible. That’s how things survive. And while we as brainy, self-aware humans have rationalized our way out of survival mode and into designer jeans, our innate motivations still depend greatly on the perceived possibility of a task. Essentially, whether or not we’re making a life/death decision, if we feel we are not up to a task, our instincts will kick in to discourage us from said task.
Here’s where your mind gets funky. You might think the solution at this point would simply be to sort out the Possible from the Impossible and go on from there; thing is, you won’t be able to. See, in your mind the opposite of Impossible isn’t Possible. In your mind, the opposite of Impossible is You. Everything you are is set at odds with everything that hasn’t happened yet, which means if you don’t have a real and honest understanding of your own worth, the future will be a paralyzing notion to face.
So here’s the honest truth: By virtue of the fact that you are wherever you are, reading this and breathing in and out and generally being alive, and no matter what failures you have behind you or shortcomings you have inside you or challenges you have ahead of you, at the very least you are worthy to act; right now, you are worthy to use your agency. You are adequate to be present in this moment. You are good enough to be you. If you can understand that, you’ll know that Good Enough is not surrender and it’s not weakness. It’s just honest; it’s remembering how far you’ve come despite and in spite of how far you have left to go. How are you ever going to get there if you can’t even see that you’re here?
You are good enough. You are good enough for this moment. You are good enough for right now, good enough to keep breathing and good enough to get up and carry on. You are good enough to go out and continue fighting. Whether or not you are good enough for tomorrow, you are good enough for today. And for today, that’s good enough.
Some sources, if you want to read more stuff:
Benson, P.. (1994). Free Agency and Self-Worth. The Journal of Philosophy, 91(12), 650–668. http://doi.org/10.2307/2940760
Covington, M. V.. (1984). The Self-Worth Theory of Achievement Motivation: Findings and Implications. The Elementary School Journal, 85(1), 5–20. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1001615
Crocker, J., & Knight, K. M.. (2005). Contingencies of Self-Worth. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14(4), 200–203. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20183024