Right off the bat let me give credit for my title today to Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. There’s some profound wisdom in that book. Those nine words alone speak volumes of truth.
My friend Kathy asked me a question a couple of months ago that stopped me cold. I couldn’t come up with a good response. A quick answer wasn’t going to do it this time. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
And then today on a prompt from WordPress Daily Post the same basic question in a slightly different form, raised its head and accessed that box I’d stuffed into a distant corner of my head. Here’s the question:
“What’s your biggest regret? How would your life have been different if you’d made another decision?”
Here’s my answer:
I regret wasting so much time thinking I wasn’t good enough.
The kid in the far reaches of the playground, hovering alone, her back turned to all the fun? Me. I figured I wasn’t good enough to have friends. I didn’t measure up, I wasn’t included. I became afraid, picked on, ridiculed and invisible.
Invisible feels worse than picked on. Invisible hurts in a hundred different long-lasting ways.
There were other invisible and picked on and outcast kids. I figured that out in my teen years and that was who I gravitated toward. Sometimes that was a good thing, especially when those kids were the nerds, the smart ones, the bookish know-it-alls. I mirrored the behaviors of the kids I hung out with and those had a profound influence for good.
Sometimes the invisibles were the parking lot crowd, the skip-class-to-do-anything-else group. But at least I was good enough for them. They accepted me in their own angry, we don’t care about you way. I didn’t like myself even more when I spent time with them, but it was better than being alone, usually.
By time I reached college I had a pseudo-self esteem based mostly on my book smarts. But then I found out everyone else was as smart or smarter than I was and I was an invisible, not good enough person again. Just an ant in a crowded hive of excelling ants.
I wasted tons of years thinking I wasn’t a good enough student, girl, wife, mother, housekeeper, employee, friend, daughter, sister, woman, volunteer or person.
What this wasted thinking did was waste a huge portion of my life. I felt sorry for myself instead of looking outside of myself. I caved inward and saw only what I didn’t have instead of all the phenomenal blessings I did have.
I tucked inside myself like a pair of socks rolled up tight sitting in the back corner of a dark drawer. I didn’t give, I didn’t get. I just existed. What a waste.
Skip a decade or so and leave out the sordid details. Finally, somehow, somewhere what I had, who I was began to morph into an okayness. More than that, I began feel worthwhile. I began to feel like I was enough. Me, where I was and what I was doing was good, worthwhile, worthy, wonderful, and of value.
What a long, uphill road I trudged to get there.
I turn around and look back at the path I took to get to today and part of me wants to crumble in to a heap on the ground and weep. I want to cry for the wasted time, the wasted opportunities, the wasted impact I could have had. I want to feel sorry for myself again. But I won’t.
That’s an even bigger waste of time. I’m who I am because of the path I’ve taken to get here, which is good enough for me. That’s all that really matters anyway. What do I think? What others think of me isn’t as important as what I think of me.
I AM good enough.
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Living with regrets waste the present and the future – Quite often however, we can parlay the regrets and reasons behind them into advantages and benefits for others! Helping others can be our biggest achievements and healthy ego builder there is!
“The truth is that we compete against our own potential every day.” ~ Mark Sanborn