I have struggled with the notion of “good enough” for most of my life. I cannot tell you how many of my nearly 60 trips around the sun have been spent in a state of self-imposed feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. Now, I acknowledge the hyperbole in the previous statement, it’s not as if it consumed me. But it was always there. I’ve never felt good enough.
Then, one day I asked myself a question that changed my entire outlook.
“Who told me that I wasn’t good enough?”
Nobody. That’s who. Except for me of course. And I have absolutely no damn idea why. Maybe by my peers? I will admit that, despite boldly and loudly stating the contrary, I care what people think of me.
Not my co-workers. I have always been very focused in my work, regardless of the vocation. I always worked hard and, while I have been not so good at some things and received mixed reviews I have also received accolades for things that I am really good at. The accolades were fine. I liked them as much as anyone I suppose. I was raised to not only be a good worker but to also be the top guy, the irreplaceable one. So anytime my boat would sail anywhere close to that point, I enjoyed the moment. But it was fleeting for me at best. In my heart, I am really about accomplishment. So to me, an accolade is worth a tablespoon of dog shit if said deed or situation doesn’t end up with a meaningful outcome. I am an old-fashioned guy, I like to see results. Therefore, at work, I was always, at the very goddamn least, good enough.
My father certainly didn’t tell me that I wasn’t good enough. Dad, with whom I had a complicated relationship, would never, in a million years have said something as toxic to me. The worst thing he ever said to me was,
“I’m disappointed in you.”
That stung like a bitch in and of itself. But that made me want to do better. Because I have always, even after his death, sought his approval.
Looking at that last sentence, reading it again and again, I realize that I may have just answered my own question. I do seek approval, maybe validation is a better word, and I hate it. I really didn’t make the (perhaps apparent to everyone else) connection between that and the omnipresent feelings of inadequacy I have been plagued with for so long until now. It may be as small as wanting to be liked, or as deep as a fear of dying in obscurity.
I don’t want to be famous. I don’t care about money. I want to leave every place I go and everything I touch a little better than I found it. That’s it.
Am I comparing myself to the person I want to be?
I hope that’s it. Definitely something to explore further.