Why good enough is good enough
Tis a funny old world we’re living in. Never before have we been so exposed to judgement and opinion as we are today. Our thoughts and preferences re. news items, events, photos, cartoons etc. are served up to be Liked and even disliked in social media. A click here or a comment there by friends and strangers all chip in to self-assurance or chip away at fragile self-confidence. Instant gratification vs. rejection, or worse, indifference.
Ah, you say, but that brand of exposure is self-inflicted. True. No one is forced into the social media arena, but ever since we lumbered out of caves dressed in animal skins, our choices have been automatically exposed. Does my butt look big in this loincloth?
Not that everyone cares about the opinion of fashionistas or about an extra couple of kilo across the ass. But we all care about hygiene and conforming to social norms. If we didn’t, there would be no market for mouth sprays and deodorants.
Then there are our lines of work. It sounds much fancier to say personal assistant rather than secretary, and infinitely better to say employed than unemployed. Likewise, it’s far cooler to vacation in South Africa than Southend. The list is endless. Nobody (hopefully) cares about everything but we all care — even subconsciously — about some things.
And these things, of course, are really only the trimmings and trappings in life. What actually matters is our core self-esteem, and this is where the problems start. So much of our inner core is impacted by our outer encounters.
For instance. We lose a job, very possibly through no fault of our own, and then run ourselves ragged tracking down openings and sending applications. Job-hunting becomes our new, and hopefully temporary, occupation. But regardless of how many hours a day we spend relentlessly working to that end, we invariably feel less then the person we were, — even when we are making the very best of a bad situation foisted upon us. We feel not good enough.
Parenting is another minefield. Most of us try to do our utmost for our children, but when the child is unhappy or suffers a setback, we automatically look to ourselves to determine where we went wrong — what we could have done better — because clearly we haven’t equipped the child with a better means of coping with a given situation. We weren’t good enough.
I’m not suggesting that any of this makes logical sense, much of it doesn’t. But all to often our initial knee-jerk reaction is to find the fault within us.
Maya Angelou famously said: when you know better, do better. This is very true and obviously we should all learn from our mistakes.
In the meantime, I’ve decided to give myself a break.
The time has come to stand back a little and say I’m good enough. I’m not the brightest, the best dressed, the prettiest, the wittiest or even the kindest. But hey, I’m doing my best. And my best is as good as it can ever get on the day. And if that’s not good enough (and by whose standards?), then so be it. I’ll still do.
At the grand old age of 50+, I’m going to give myself credit for my choices and actions.
For example. Right now I’m editing my debut novel. It’s scary and exhilarating and scary and exciting. I’m pouring every last ounce of my creativity, know-how and grammatical precision into a book I hope to hold in my hands, find on a bookseller’s shelf and feel pride in. But if, against all odds and statistics, my work is published, I’m also setting myself up for painful dollops of public criticism, disdain and ridicule.
Equally, there may be someone out there who enjoys the story, who might lend it to a friend or even gift it. Which would be the ultimate Like.
But regardless of whether my book is published or rejected, whether it sells or is returned to the publisher for incineration, I shall write another and then another. Because if I’m convinced I gave it all I had to give until I know better and can do better, I can look myself in the eye and believe I’m good enough. Perhaps not for publication or favourable criticism, but for self-esteem. I’ll keep trying, but until then — and this is the point — I shall be telling myself you’ll do.
Because it will always be a funny old world.
But surely doing one’s best must always be considered good enough.