I think, if I remember correctly, I was watching Oprah when I first heard and fell in love with the ironic phrase: “You are too much, you are not enough”
I may have it wrong but I think she was building an all girls school in Africa and had to interview and choose a small number of girls from a sea of hopefuls that applied, each one desperate for the opportunity. One of the young girls tried so hard and in the end she asked... “Am I good enough?” I still hear her sweet, rich, accented voice ask it. I was only a girl myself and I knew just what she meant. Am I good enough? ...to be accepted, to be loved, to be trusted, valued, worth your time and space?
It resounded with Oprah as well, she shared her internal struggle with being good enough and maybe that was the first time I didn't feel alone in feeling that way.
“You are too much, you are not enough”
This is the story of my life, who I am is too much for a lot of people, who I am is not enough for a lot of people. I guess it's because my personality, my energy level, my ADHD and my emotional needs are over the top. I've known I was too much and not enough since I was young. I think big thoughts, feel big feelings and apparently that's wrong, or that's how I perceived it, still perceive it. I've been called melodramatic, a drama queen, mentally unstable, intimidating, too much to handle, too full of myself, overly emotional and so on. The words, and the wounds they left, have stuck. Yes, I have these big feelings and dreams inside me and I'm afraid to let them out because I don't want to be that girl, or now that I'm older, that woman. I don't want to be the center of attention, I don't want to be the loud mouth at the party, I don't want to be the one that always has the problem, or the one who cries at everything or has something to say to everyone. I want to “be normal,” I want to blend in, to just be one of the ladies. I would love to have my thoughts and feelings empathized with, respected, dare I say, I would like to be seen as inspirational. I want to be good enough but I don't want to be too much, but I feel so often like I am too much.
At the same exact time I feel like I'm not enough, never enough. If only I had more energy to get the things done a “good” wife, mom, employee, entrepreneur is supposed to do; then I'd be good enough. If only I could harness my passionate emotions for the plight of the destitute and starving in developing countries, then I'd be good enough to make a difference. If only I was more outspoken or conservative then I'd be Christian enough. But I'm never enough, I fall short, I'm tired at the end of an eight to ten hour work day where I've tried my best to get it all done and failed to complete my tasks. I know I'll have just as much to do the next day and I won't get it all done and I'll have to answer for why I didn't do it all. My day doesn't end there. There's still so much. A “good” woman goes home to to cook dinner, to clean her house, to tell her children and a husband (if she's good enough to have them) that she loves them. And, most importantly, a “good” woman never, ever loses her control or composure... ever! Extra good women also find time to take care of their health and body and care for the poor and needy, they make their own clothes, reduce, reuse, recycle and are studying for their doctorate too and they do it all with a smile on their face.
That's not me, I am too much, I am not enough! I try my best and no matter how hard I try it's never enough. I forget appointments, I lose my cool, I can go a month without talking to my parents and I don't practice the tenants of my faith daily. I usually cry for no good reason at least once a week, and I snap and say something stupid that I shouldn't have just as often. I over book myself and freak out when it all won't fit. I can't get it all done at work, I can't get it all done at home, I can't even do it all to take care of myself. I fail! There's too much and not enough of me.
Alanis Morissette's song, “Perfect,” sums it all up. “We'll love you, just the way your are... if you're perfect.”
The thing that gets me and makes me feel extra bad is that despite my insecurities about being too much and not enough I kind of like who I am, even some of the things others find offensive, and I'm more embarrassed to admit that than I am to admit how miserably I fail at life. It hasn't always been that way, I spent a lot of years self-loathing, self-doubting, self-deprecating, I still beat myself when I'm too much and let my emotions get the best of me. I will push and demand more of myself when I think I'm not enough for my boss, my family and my body. But, finally after years of uncertainty, I have made peace with my God and I kind of know that I have a place in this world too. I am loved, I am wanted... or at least I am “put up with” and that is enough for me, it has to be because I am doing my best.
I don't know, maybe I am different than every other woman on the planet, maybe no one else feels like she's too much but never enough, but I suspect I'm not alone. I think maybe it's common. I think it needs to come out. I hope my characters will let you know you're not alone. I hope my words will not only entertain you but also encourage you. Even though they're made up stories, I hope the tales I tell remind you of this: It's OK to be too much, and not enough...you'll still be loved. You are good enough just as you are! You do matter!
Am I the only one that feels this way? Would you read or share books about young women with internal struggles like this?
Next week I'll recap my "too much and not enough" photo journey through June, it'll wow ya... or make you roll your eyes.