Thursday, September 20, 2018

Battling with Enough

Here's the thing y'all, I struggle with enough.

It looks so pretty on the graphic doesn't it?

Well, it's not.

For such a simple word, it gives me one heck of a time in life.

Our relationship has been fraught with tension for some time. 

Way back in 2012, I was unexpectedly promoted into an interim director role at work. I won't delve into the details of the what/how/why because that doesn't matter for this post here.

What I will you is this - I spent a year in that role convinced I wasn't enough. I told myself that I was never meant to be in that position. Do you know what that feels like? I believed that no matter what I did, I was a big phony inside. I believed that it was only a matter of time before everyone figured it out. In the meantime, I told myself that while I could never do enough, I still had to try. I had to put on the external show that I had it all together. Have you ever been in that quest for enough? It's legit impossible, but you go after it anyway. I spent my time doing all the things, but feeling as if I wasn't doing anything right. Any positive feedback I received was heard, but I didn't listen and absorb. I felt like I was acting a part for that year, but not as the lead. Rather, I treated myself like an understudy, and it was only a matter of time before the star returned.

I left that job due to the want to be in KC, and for so long, I felt the guilt of enough. I could have done more. I should have done more. I just didn't do enough.

With my view of self skewed, I entered into another role. I fell victim to enough again, but in a different way. I found myself in a highly unhealthy work environment - Some of that was inevitably my own doing, and some of it was systemic factors I was never going to change. It was an environment that I was convinced if I just did enough I could change. So much of that was out of my control, but I didn't believe it. The quest for enough convinced me otherwise. I felt the burden of doing all the things to balance out the mess. I believed if I did enough I would fix the situation. Y'all, I did not say "No" to an opportunity that came my way in the entire two years I was in that role. Meetings, committees, literally anything was a "Yes" from me. 

I left that job, and it took me a long time to come to terms with what happened. I didn't feel the guilt like the job before, but rather it was the realization of how off-kilter I had let myself become. There were pieces of that environment that were never going to get better until the core of the issue was addressed. No amount of work I could have done would have ever been enough.

Even though I'm five years out of the first role, and three years out of the other, I am still processing how I've let enough have such a hold on me. I'm definitely still not free of all that this word does to me, but I've been thinking about it more and more.

You see, enough as a stopping point is a great place to be.

There's a recognition that you've done just what you needed to do.

There's an acknowledgement that you've met the goal.

There's an acceptance that you can stop right where you are, and you'll be okay.

For so long, I've built enough to be so much more than it is. Rather than seeing it as my finish line, I keep moving that finish line further away. 

Oh, I can just do this one more thing.

Or two more things.

Or three more things.

I mean, I have the time, why not?

In building up enough, I've reduced myself to empty.

Y'all, this one is a hard habit to break, but I sure am trying.

It starts simply with a Post-It on my desk that says "Pause before saying yes." There's also another that says, "Listen to the want to say no." I'm trying to recalibrate. Some of that means I have to revisit where the heck these default settings came from and how long they've had their hold on me.

Some might wonder why I put this in such a public forum. Couldn't I just process through this alone? I could, and I do. But at the same time, I think there's power in sharing where I don't get it right. I feel better when I more honestly and authentically share where I am. I love writing it out, pain and all, and I think there is such value in putting my reality out into the world. 

I know the battle is not won. I know there are still days where I am going to lose. However, I also know there can be even more of those days where I can win. 

So, I'm still at it. Still fighting.

And that is definitely enough.