Tonight my mind is spinning as I sit down to write, weighing a hundred different paths to take on the blank page.
I could tell you about graduation and how it felt when my gorgeous daughter all grown up and ready to fly, still looked for me in the crowd to make sure I was watching. Don’t worry, love, I’m always watching.
I could tell you about how I redid my third podcast three times this week before I published it and then still worried myself sick that it wasn’t good enough. Good enough for what, I wonder.
I could tell you how my husband turned 47 and how he is the easiest person in the world to love. He even makes loving me look easy which is utterly impossible. I know from experience.
I could tell you about how I had to teach Relief Society yesterday and how almost none of it went like I thought it should. And as I have an assignment to speak for two days at a youth conference later this week, I am now beating back the self-doubt demons at a near-constant rate. I really need an automatic weapon of some kind.
But what I want to tell you instead is that you are amazing.
And despite everything I just wrote, I am too.
No matter who we are, no matter what we are doing, no matter how hard we have tried, no matter how much we try to measure up, we are all equally terrified and also absolutely certain that something is wrong with us. Fundamentally. Irreversibly. Irredeemably.
You see? You are not alone.
Tonight we watched the documentary on Fred Rogers, Won’t You Be My Neighbor. At one point in the film, the creators of the documentary shared one of the many memos that Mister Rogers wrote to himself. It read in part: “Am I kidding myself that I’m able to write a script again? … After all these years, it’s just as bad as ever.”
We all have doubts. And they never go away. We are all worried about the ways we fall short and can’t possibly measure up.
What I want you to know for sure is that the idea that we are fundamentally flawed is a lie. It is also part and parcel of the human condition. When our spirits were put inside a human body with a human brain programmed for survival, we started to worry and compare and judge. Ourselves. Which only led us to look around and worry and compare and judge others. Mostly just for reassurance: “See, we’re okay,” we try to tell ourselves.
But living like this is just as painful as knowing deep down that there’s something wrong with us.
We hate ourselves. And then we hate others.
Which feels as horrible as it sounds.
Henri J. M. Nouwen wrote: “In a world that constantly compares people, ranking them as more or less intelligent, more or less attractive, more or less successful, it is not easy to really believe in a [divine] love that does not do the same. When I hear someone praised, it is hard not to think of myself as less praiseworthy; when I read about the goodness and kindness of other people, it is hard not to wonder whether I myself am as good and kind as they; and when I see trophies, rewards, and prizes being handed out to special people, I cannot avoid asking myself why that didn’t happen to me.”
See, the problem is that when there is the idea of “better” there is also the idea of “worse.” If we can be better, then we can be worse. And so can everyone around us. This is a seriously slippery slope of ranking and reranking that involves a lot of scrabbling and fighting for the top. Which, again, feels as horrible as it sounds.
Last weekend we rewatched the documentary, Free Solo. (Does it seem like I’m watching too many documentaries given the depth and breadth of my to-do list? I’m totally okay with you judging me for spending so much time in front of the screen. Don’t worry, I have thoroughly judged myself before giving you the chance to judge me first.) But this time, I was struck as Alex Honnold talked about how he thought life was about excellence and how if he could accomplish this thing—climbing El Capitan without ropes or gear or any kind—then he would have done something amazing. And that would mean that he would finally be enough and able to be proud of himself.
Heartbreakingly, you could see when he got to the top of this impossible climb, that he was surprised to find that he was still the same person. Alex Honnold had gone 3600 feet into the air without ropes or safety gear, accomplishing the impossible, and it hadn’t changed who he was or how he saw himself at all.
The problem is that your human brain is never going to let what you do be enough.
Which is why it’s high time to just ignore it.
You have always been enough.
Last fall when I went to Spokane, my coach gave me this thought: I’m okay with being 100% awesome. I say it to myself nearly every day. Some days I believe it. Some days I don’t. But I keep saying it.
And I’m giving you permission to think the exact same thing about yourself exactly as you are right now. 100% awesome. 100% whole. 100% lovable. Right now. As you are.
I’m not saying it’s easy. You can see from how I started this post that I still have my fear and worries. I still battle my natural tendency to doubt my worth and my worthiness nearly every day.
The difference is now I know none of what my brain is telling me is true. It is the veil and nothing more. It is the curtain of mortality drawn over my mind. And when I really try, I can see the truth on the other side, I can see things as they really are: I’m amazing. And so are you.
Just thought you should know.