This is a hard post to write.
Why? Because I see myself as never good enough. Writing a post like this demands that I admit it.
People around me would be shocked if they knew how deeply this runs to my core. After all, I was valedictorian of my graduating class and voted most likely to succeed. I know lots of things (it’s generally a surface knowledge and not very deep). I’m self-disciplined and go after what I want (yeah, beginner’s luck can take someone far out, but that doesn’t mean they are good at it). I appear to be a success.
I’d laugh if I didn’t think I’d start crying.
Yeah, it really is that bad and at this moment I don’t want to continue this blog post.
I feel stupid, like I know absolutely nothing. I often believe that I’m still alive by sheer dumb luck, and often I don’t know why I continue in this existence. I hope there are multiple dimensions so that I can believe that somewhere in another place and time, I am better than I am here. Maybe I truly am successful.
This is a stupid paradigm to have. I know where it came from. I can dang near remember where it started, or where I think it started. I’m sure it began long before that memory I have, but I’m certain this was the moment it was cemented in my mind. Yes, I have often been made to feel like I wasn’t good enough by the people around me, as if were one of those social proof message displays showing people buying things, except in my case they read like: Dawn didn’t bring home a report card of all A’s; Dawn’s marriage failed; Dawn can’t cut straight or paste; Dawn can’t use a crayon properly; Dawn doesn’t use enough setting; etc.
So why am I here admitting this (to the world if I dare to hit publish on it, and there’s a large part of me that wants to just keep it as a draft)?
Because no, I am not good enough. That is true.
But the words aren’t to make me feel like a failure. No, this thought needs to serve me.
This thought is not a conclusion, but rather a motivation.
I am not a good enough writer. I have much to learn and practice. Yes, setting being one of them. And I have been working on that. I hope that I am never a “good enough” writer since there is so much craft that can be learned and always another level to achieve. It reminds me to keep getting better. In the meanwhile, I need to dare to be bad.
I am not a good enough painter for much the same reason. I have a lot to learn. Every painting, much like every book, is practice.
Yep, I’m also not a good enough narrator. Same bat time, same bat channel.
I don’t know a fraction of what I’d like to know. About anything. Yet I know that all education is self-education; you have to want to learn something before you truly can learn. And you have to have to courage to try to apply it. It’s when we get tangled up in the concept that something has to be perfect and that it is right that we get really hung up on this. If it’s not correct, then we are not successful. If we aren’t successful then we have failed. If we failed, then we are not good enough. So we become afraid to try, afraid to learn. Why start if we are only going to not be good enough?
A stationary object will remain so until so force it acted upon it to make it move. Let this be the motivation of “I’m not good enough” rather than letting that be a result. No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. The only failure is the person who doesn’t use those mistakes to grow and get better so they don’t do that again.
No, I’m not good enough, but I hope to improve. I hope to get better. It’s all on me.
More importantly, it doesn’t matter what the rest of the world thinks! Honestly and quite probably, no one cares.
See, not being good enough as a result let’s factors outside of yourself determine the worthiness of the effort.
I’m going to go a little deeper here for myself because I want to interact with this idea. I want to examine the root of this mind weed and see if I can pull it out for good. If it helps someone else out there to see how to analyze their own “not good enough” feelings, then great. But guess what? I don’t care. I’m doing this for me.
My father was never happy with the grades I brought home from 1st grade on. He would see that I had A’s and B’s and ask if I could do better. My mother was the one that would reward me. I spoke about my memory above. I remember my mother taking me to the local five and dime store to buy me a present to reward my “good grades” after we picked up my report card in school. I think I was in 1st or 2nd grade at the time. I bought a board game. Then, that evening when my dad got home, my mom showed him my card. He looked at me and said, “Why isn’t this all A’s? Don’t you think you could have done better?” It seemed like every report card I brought home ended in the same conversation.
Worse, I had one parent praising and one parent criticizing. Which one could possibly be right?
I knew I was trying my best and I was happy with my grades. I knew it was a reflection about how I felt about each subject. Not every one was my cup of tea, meaning I knew there were some areas where it aligned with me and others that didn’t, though I couldn’t have expressed it at such a young age. But it made me feel as if I weren’t trying hard enough.
As I got older, and because for a long time I was a people-pleaser, these report card conversations got worse because I was trying hard. I was literally doing the best I could do. Some subjects came easier to me than others. This is when I started to feel that I wasn’t good enough. No matter how well I did (and now looking back I see that if I’d brought home all A’s, my father would have asked me why they weren’t all A+’s), it was never good enough.
It didn’t help that my father was very intelligent and had won medals for academics. He wanted me to walk in his footsteps exactly. Yeah, well, I was never good enough to do that. I always knew that was an automatic fail.
By the time I reached senior year, I had given up trying. I no longer cared about how I was doing in school because it would never be good enough. Strangely, I still ended up be valedictorian by a fraction of a point. Oh, and I’m pretty sure this was the start of my imposter syndrome.
So that’s my basis for this mind weed of not being good enough. I know that I want to not let this be an end result, but rather a motivating force. How can I kick this thought from the end of the train up to the front where I want it? How could it have been used then to empower me? What could have changed the situation?
I think my father was wrong in his actions. I think he should have left it alone. He was certainly wrong for wanting me to be exactly like him. What he got was a rebellious teenage girl who wanted to be herself and make her own decisions. I often think back the flaws my parents had and realize that they were ill-equipped to guide me. It’s no wonder I was never good enough. I don’t even think that my father would have realized the statement, “All education is self-education.” He just learned everything he read or saw. He thought everyone did. I don’t even think my father realized what a brilliant man he was even though he had people telling him all the time. Don’t get me wrong; he had many flaws too. Intelligent doesn’t mean organized. And because he was a public defender, most of his clients (bad guys in jail – yeah, there’s intelligence for you (NOT!)) didn’t think that he was a smart man because he was a public defender. I heard him say this a number of times and now wonder if he didn’t deal with some of his own “not good enough” demons. The seeds from his own mind weeds may very well have become what planted mine.
Yep, I feel that has reached the root, nay, the very seed.
How will I proceed going on from here?
As I stated, there are skills I want to learn and all education is self-education. I am the only one who can put in that effort. And, since I’m the one who knows what skills I’m working on, I’m the only one who can judge if they are working or not. Someone might read a book and say my dialogue is horrible. Well, if I was working on setting in the story, maybe the dialogue was bad. If I’m painting and working on composition, maybe my color theory won’t be to someone else’s liking. But if I feel that my setting and composition skills have grown as a result of doing the work, then I am successful. I am the only one who can make myself better than I was yesterday and I am the only person who can be the judge of that.
At least until we are all Borg and live inside each other’s minds as a collective group. At that point, we’ll all be alike and no one will ever not be good enough again. (Talk about shivers!)