You Are Good Enough

Every day the halls are filled with students seeking and searching to find their way in this world. Education is presented to them as a shining key to their future, and I wholeheartedly agree, as it turned my life around. But what is a true education?

The best education I have ever received was in the company of those I admired and who risked investing in me as a person, first, and a student, second.

Every day we have lessons to learn, and every day we wonder if we’ll pass the test. The pressure can be unbearable. It’s those tapes we play repeatedly in our heads, the biggest of which is: “I'm just not good enough.”

There are a ton of study areas around the campus, littered with lounging students staring bug-eyed into their laptops checking the word counts of their essay requirements, and wondering if that colour-coded cue card has the information that will be needed on their multiple choice test. Fear and doubt mount, and the pressure starts to constrict every muscle in their body like a boa squeezing their prey. “What if I don’t pass?” “What if I don’t get accepted into my program?” ”I don’t think I can make it.” “What’s the point?” “Nothing I ever do seems to make a difference.”

This extends beyond the campus to the world of work and relationships. It can follow us through life like a shadow creeping behind or before us, depending on our vantage point. For some, well, they never seem to stop this constant wondering.

Negative thinking becomes a slippery slope, leading to surrender where we shrug our shoulders and hand over the reins of perceived happiness to someone else. We see everyone else around us succeeding with relative ease, compared to us. And there lies our problem. We live in a comparative culture that threatens the core of who we are.

I don’t believe this is a gender biased concept. Nor do I think it is a new concept that is only fuelled by social media and the false lives we see on Instagram and Facebook. It’s something we are taught pretty early in life. Everyone takes stock of themselves and then looks to the left and to the right and asks if they measure up. We have all asked our friends in grade school what mark they got on a test or project. We have all looked at our siblings and thought, will I be as good as them, as pretty, as smart, as athletic…. The standard is set and we line ourselves up daily, only to find we’re not at that benchmark. Parents and teachers compare us and quite often we fall short – no pun intended for those, like me, who are height challenged. Then the whole world of dating happens, and the pressure increases. When a partner cheats or leaves, and we see the new prospect, we shake our heads, line up the comparisons, and then retreat, give in, and give up, saying: “I'm just not good enough.”

We've been educated from the beginning to think that every day is a test, not of our textbook knowledge, but of our identity and our worth. People are being crushed under the weight of expectations and pressures, resulting in exhaustion…self-defeat…slowly wasting away.

When you’re in that heap on the floor, you've got nowhere to go but up. It’s a time to rebuild – to put back the pieces of that broken heart or broken dream. There is nothing left to compare. All you've got is you. There is no one to your left or to your right. And that’s a good thing! People will always lurk in the shadows to discourage. But they are just that, stuck in the shadows. They do not own or control your life. You come to the realization that this is your life to live. You separate from the negativity and look beyond…to one who can teach you and believe in you and help you find who you are. Can you find the courage to try again and discover that indeed you are good enough? Your greatest victory is not the moment when you actually defeat your fiercest opponent, it’s when you realize you are capable of it!

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© 2020 Connect the Thoughts: Charlene Mahon