Am I enough? – Ayoola O

Sometimes you wake up and think to yourself that you aren’t good enough, that you aren’t strong enough. You feel as if you are not enough. You are on this constant cycle of justifying your very existence. No matter what you do, what you say or how you act, it is never good enough. It doesn’t align with that unattainable vision of perfectionism which leaves you on an endless battle of self-doubt and self-worth. You feel like an impostor in your own body. You feel like you don’t deserve those achievements you’ve worked so hard to achieve, yet that hard work is still not enough. This feeling of inadequacy links to what is known as the imposter syndrome. This is often an internal experience of thousands of thoughts and doubts scuttling around in our minds, convincing us that we don’t belong in these accomplished spaces. They tell you that you are unworthy of that position or achievement. You even start to feel as if you have no value without them. For example, if you get a good grade in a test, that is your piece of validation to prove that you are intelligent. It is almost as if you attach your intelligence to your grades you received on a piece of paper. You attach your self- worth and value to your accomplishments. However, that is dangerous because when the challenges of life arise and you may not get the grades you want, you feel inadequate. You’ve attached your entire identity to the external fulfillments and when they don’t come, you crumble. It is a horrible feeling of emptiness but something that so many people have and will experience in their lives. As easy as it is to say, ‘You are incredible’ and ‘worthy of the greatest success’ or to tell yourself in the mirror, “You look so good today,” on the worst days, where you feel lonely or stricken by failure it is may seem harder to do. It clouds are direction and clouds our whole perception of ourselves. On these days, it may feel hard to muster the energy to build yourself up and overcome these barriers which stand in your way.

“Strength is how you shut down the voice in your head that says, I can’t.” This quote is by Emma Xu. It takes strength to defeat the I can’ts in our head. I can’t do this because I’m not this or that. Whether that be I can’t as good at playing the piano as them, I’m not as sporty as them or I’m not as talented as them. No! we can’t be anything but ourselves. And ourselves, yourself is more than enough. 

We don’t realise how incredible we are, how much potential we yield but when the ‘I can’ts’ are ringing in our heads, it can cause people to compare themselves to those around them. Comparison isn’t as simple as a comparison to our peers or the people around us. We compare ourselves in a paradoxical way to ourselves. We look in the mirror saying ‘I wish my hair looked like this,’ or ‘why do I look like that?’ We tear every single part of ourselves. You can often hear the phrase ‘We are our worst critics.’ We can be so horrible to ourselves because it is so easy to do. It seems so much easier to be mean to yourself than to someone else as it may seem as if you are not hurting anyone’s feelings. But that isn’t the case, you and your feelings matter just as everyone else’s do as well. In that sense, kindness and compassion starts from within. Once we hold it from within, it is so much easier to share with those around us.  On the thought of the people around us, the thought of opening up to others about our insecurities can make us feel weak or less than them because we fall into the trap of thinking we are alone. However, research suggests that 70% of people may suffer from impostor syndrome. It is a phenomenon which can affect us all, even our biggest role models. Maya Angelou who was an incredible, talented poet still had feeling inadequacy. She said “I have written 11 books but each time I think ‘Uh-oh, they’re going to find out now.”  Michelle Obama said “I still have a little impostor syndrome….. It doesn’t go away , that feeling you shouldn’t take me that seriously. What do I know?” These quotes from two incredible, powerful women emphasise that we aren’t alone.  

Navigating a world full of new challenges can often be quite overwhelming. It could make us sometimes question our own abilities or the power that we hold. But knowing that we are capable  of anything we set our minds to with tenacity, perseverance and determination and knowing that we are incredible individuals whose individuallity is what makes us so special and amazing, is certainly a step in the right direction.

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