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Note: This post was the result of my participation in a writing contest called “You Are Enough,” hosted by Positive Writer (I didn’t win. Oh well – kind of cements the message, though!). The premise of the contest fit with everything I believe regarding writing; it asked participants to get readers to believe in themselves and their writing abilities. So away we go …
You are enough.
It’s easy for us to say it to others, but entirely different to say to ourselves, isn’t it? I am enough.
I am good enough, I am smart enough … wait a sec, is that Stuart Smalley intruding upon our little chat? Do you remember him? He was the character from Saturday Night Live who’d turn to his mirror and repeat his daily affirmations, slightly cross-eyed and thick with a lisp:
“I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggonit, people like me!”
The problem was, Stuart never really believed it. And we knew he never really believed it. He was trying desperately to convince himself of those words, a self-help junkie who was softer than the cardigan he wanted to pull around himself for comfort and protection.
Stuart would rather gaze into that mirror than venture outside of his door into the scary world. It was easy to imagine how quickly he could be trampled by the slightest of slights.
It was a hilarious skit, but also a little dangerous. Because how many people came away believing that if they repeated affirmations, they were nothing more than a naive and fragile little Stuart Smalley, waiting to be sucker-punched?
Suck it up, buttercup
Here’s the cold, hard truth: there may be nothing harder in the world than to believe you are enough. Give Stuart Smalley a little credit — at least he was giving it a go.
It takes vulnerability and an honest assessment of yourself and your skills. It means confronting your stories and asking what you’ve gotten out of them.
Truth time: we’ve all told ourselves stories about not being good enough, and we’ve benefitted from those stories. Get mad at me if you’d like, then go think about it. That’s been my process … Whaddya mean I’m getting something out of my stories of suckitude? These stories make me miserable! I don’t wanna suck!
Oh, but when I believe in my low-class, no-talent status, I don’t have to go anywhere. No one looks at me. And that’s actually a pretty comfortable place for an introvert to be.
Dammit. My stories keep me out of the spotlight. My stories keep me home where it’s quiet and safe, and I can gaze into my mirror and just repeat affirmations but not do anything about them.
So think about your stories and what you gain from them. And while you’re drilling down, don’t forget the other part as well: take an honest assessment of your skills.
Do you know what an honest assessment means? It does NOT mean you pat yourself on the back for acknowledging everything you stink at, and then declaring your lot in life astronomically bad and hopeless.
That’s the way a lot of us go about it — list and label all of our weaknesses and call it an honest assessment. Self-worth story locked and loaded. But when you leave out your strengths, you haven’t been honest about it at all.
Shame on you, you liar. (I jest. You know I love ya.)
It can be harder to acknowledge our strengths. It can be difficult to concede just how good we are at something, not only out of a fear of being boastful, but because you know what happens when we accept our talent? We also have to accept our responsibility to use that talent.
You have Talent
Maybe you don’t think you have talent as a writer. But you do.
You are enough.
I get it: writers can be a brutal bunch, sour and cynical and Hoity-toity. And we’re most brutal on ourselves because that’s the age-old storyline: you must hate everything you’ve ever written and be tortured about it.
I’ve done it. I do it.
But maybe that’s why “You are enough” is such a great sentiment. You don’t have to aim for perfectionism or to be the best. Just, You are enough.
Part of the reason writing can feel hard is because, at the root of it all, words rarely capture what we really want to convey. There are too many things, like emotion and landscapes and dreams and memory, for which there are no words. They simply don’t exist.
But this is good too. Once you shed the expectation that you can somehow write the perfect story, you can tackle most anything. You realize that you ARE enough.
Here’s what you’ve got: your voice. Your experience. Your relatability.
Someone out there relates to you. You think your writing stinks? Fine. Write anyway. Everyone else who thinks they stink will be happy to see you. It’s like when I read someone who’s just a bit irreverent with a few well-placed curse words thrown in. My people.
A lot of great writing is conversational in style — and hell, you’ve had lots of conversations in your life, haven’t you?
Don’t change who you are to fit the mold of what you think a writer needs to be. A writer needs to be clear in their message. That’s about it. Everything else is garnish.
You are enough. That one takes some courage to believe and act upon. But someone out there needs to hear from you — perfectly imperfect you. Your words are the ones that will resonate. Your message is one they need to hear. Your delivery is made just for them.
So suck it up, buttercup. You are enough, and it’s time to step away from the mirror and get moving.
Not sure how to write about yourself?
The About Me page lets you connect with people personally AND professionally. This free outline stacks the components of a great About Me page into one easy-to-read graphic.