For most of my life, I felt not good enough, inferior to others. And I believed that I couldn’t have what I truly desired because of it.
I yearned for a life of purpose and adventure, for excitement and extraordinary experiences. But I didn’t think I was special or brave enough.
I wanted to become a fiction writer since I was 8 years old. But I didn’t feel talented, creative or eloquent enough.
I ached to express my true Self and claim my place in this world, to just be me without apologies, doubts or fears. But I was never confident enough to pull it off, always too worried what other people would think of me.
I never felt important enough to amount to much in work and life. And I believed I was not tall or slender enough to feel good in my own body.
My entire life, I barely scraped the surface of my potential. I rarely allowed myself to shine or be me. And I always quit my dreams before I even gave them a try.
Because I thought that dreams were not for people like me. They were for better people.
And, because of that, I believed that I had to become better to finally deserve the things I desired. I obsessed about proving my worth, worked myself into the ground, adapted, distorted, exaggerated to seem more special, more relevant.
But no matter what I achieved, how much I bent and faked, sacrificed myself to the obsessive pursuit of becoming a better version of myself, still I never felt good enough.
And for a long time, I resented myself for this inability to measure up. I beat myself up for being such a failure.
When it wasn’t my fault at all.
Our distorted definition of “good enough” (which is causing your struggles)
You see, all those years, I compared myself to other people around me, to people I saw on TV, in magazines and on social media. And, in comparison, I always believed I was “too this” and “not enough that”.
I agonised over the reason why. What was wrong with me that I fell so short of all the goalposts? That I was never good enough?
But not once did I stop to ask myself:
What does good enough even mean? And what would I have to do or be to finally become “good enough”?
Well, to answer these questions, imagine this:
Say, you complete a piece of work and present it to your friends, your boss, the world and somebody says: “I guess that’s good enough.”
How do you feel when you hear these words?
Not great, right? Like you failed or didn’t meet the required standards.
Because, in reality, “good enough” is not good enough. So, when we say: “I’m not good enough”, what we actually mean is “I’m not perfect, I’m not special or extraordinary, I don’t stand out”.
Because it’s not “good enough” that we strive for. It’s perfection.
And that’s a massive problem.
How the pursuit of perfection ruins your life
We all crave to be the perfect partner, the perfect lover, the perfect friend, employee, parent. We believe we must have the perfect house, the perfect clothes, the perfect car.
We want a perfect body, we want a perfect soul.
But no matter how hard we try, we fail, again and again. And again.
And there is only one soul-crushing explanation for this failure that makes sense to us: that we aren’t good enough to be perfect. That we aren’t special, have no awe-inspiring talents or admiration-worthy attributes.
And because we aren’t perfect, we feel that we have no worth, no value. And we know, deep down, that we never will be able to become perfect, because we simply are…you guessed it…not good enough.
It’s a brutal downward spiral that causes endless despair and misery. It robs us of self-belief and confidence. And destroys any self-love. And hope of a better life. Because we will never be good enough to be perfect.
But let’s stop here for a moment and think about it. What does “perfect” even mean? And who decides what (or who) is “perfect”?
The random nonsense we strive for (and how it makes you feel terrible about yourself)
You see, as a species, we will always be drawn to ideals. We will have an idea of what the perfect body, the perfect success, the perfect life is supposed to look like.
Originally, these ideals were determined by nature. During our evolution, the individuals who were healthiest and strongest, more successful hunting and gathering were most important to the tribe. Because they helped guarantee survival and healthy offspring.
Which is why us humans started to associate good, healthy looks and success with more worth (to the tribe anyway). But it was all about survival.
Nowadays though, survival is no longer a daily issue for most of us. And the ideals that once kept our species alive have morphed into distorted misbeliefs of what we must achieve to have worth to society.
Through the media and social media, we are bombarded with pictures and stories of beautiful, successful people and their happy lives. The ideal of perfection is always tangling in front of us.
If I ask you what the perfect man looks like, I am sure you have a picture in your head (it’s Tom Ellis, right?). How about the perfect woman? The perfect relationship? The perfect life purpose?
We all know exactly what perfection should look like.
And we hate ourselves because, deep down, we know for absolute certain that we will never be good enough to ever reach that perfection. Which makes our inability to be perfect and measure up to the ideals the root cause of all our self-loathing, self-punishment and shame.
But why do we believe we must be perfect anyway?
The arbitrary reason why you believe you must be perfect
The whole emotional mess, the feeling of not being good enough and the self-condemnation comes from the heart-breaking fact that, as a society, we believe that each one of us is inherently worthless.
But that we need worth to deserve happiness, love and abundance.
So, we are faced with the conundrum that we somehow must earn or gain worth. Or otherwise, we will be doomed to a miserable existence, devoid of worth. And consequently, of everything good in life and all that we desire.
And to earn worth, society dictates that we must fulfil certain criteria. We must have beauty, success, wealth, purpose, possessions, status, control above all else.
We grow up believing that we need to be perfect in all of these criteria before we can ever deserve happiness. And even though we know we never can achieve what is required, we will sacrifice our life trying.
And, you know, that’s awesome for society.
Because it means you will work extra-hard, go the extra mile, burn the midnight oil to increase your worth by being the perfect success and nudge towards enough wealth. It means you will purchase all the beauty, diet and exercise products that promise to take you a step closer to having that perfect body. And, subsequently, more worth.
Think about it.
Our society and economy depend on people’s relentless pursuit of perfection. Because we believe we need worth to deserve a happy life. And we must be perfect to have worth.
Which leaves us stuck with an enormous problem.
Why “not good enough” is a curse
You see, the thing is that if you try to be perfect, you will always feel “not good enough”.
Because perfection is a myth. The goalposts we strive for are arbitrary, man-made, ever-changing and completely unobtainable nonsense, designed to make us feel bad about ourselves. So we burn ourselves out, adapt, obey and purchase and keep the economy running.
Now, I am not saying this is all a massive conspiracy. It’s just the unfortunate way our society evolved.
But it has gut-wrenching consequences for all of us.
Because, all our lives, we will beat ourselves up, hate ourselves. Because we believe that our lack of perfection will forever cost us our happiness. We will never get what we want because we will never be good enough.
No matter how hard we try.
When, in reality, it is not our lack of perfection and our inability to fulfil the criteria that cost us our happiness. It’s the relentless, obsessive pursuit of perfection that destroys our chances to ever be happy.
And there is only one way out of it.
How to ditch perfection and just be happy
Sure, our whole society believes that every human being is inherently worthless.
But that doesn’t mean it’s true!
You see, life is not about whether you are good enough or not. And trying to be good enough (aka perfect) will never lead to happiness.
Because as long as you strive for perfection and try to be good enough, you will bow to society’s worth criteria. You will worship fleeting ideals and punish yourself for not reaching them.
And happiness and self-love will not be part of your life’s path.
The only true way to live a happy, content life and accept yourself the way you are is to realise that whether you are good enough or not is irrelevant.
Because the worth criteria are nonsense. And they don’t matter.
Because you were never worthless to begin with. None of us ever was.
We are born with all the worth we will ever need to deserve everything we desire. We literally ARE worth personified.
And our inherent, infinite worth won’t be changed by how well we fulfil random, superficial criteria. Our worth won’t disintegrate if we make mistakes or fail. And it won’t drain from us if we aren’t perfect.
You ARE worth. You always have been and always will be.
All you need to do is realise this one crucial truth to see that you deserve happiness right here. That you are worthy of all your dreams right now.
So, let go of perfection. And focus on “I AM worth”.
Stop asking yourself: “How can I become good enough to get what I want?”
And start asking: “What is it that I truly desire?”
Because you deserve it already. No perfection required.
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