Just As I Am
The struggle of seeing myself as "enough" has been a burden I have carried all my life.
Growing up, I lived under the shadow of my older sister, who was the apple of my mother's eye, loved by all young and old, a hard worker, a gifted orator, a natural leader, and just overall good, kind person.
On the other hand, I was overemotional, hot-headed, stubborn, brash, outspoken, boy crazy, potty-mouthed, and sarcastic.
I wasn't thin enough, light-skinned enough, girlie enough, or pretty enough like my friends who the boys always paid attention to.
99% of the time, if boys approached me, it was to get access to my friends, so I relegated myself to playing the role of the funny, chubby sidekick.
I wasn't spiritual enough compared to others who were like Enoch- walking and talking with God.
And here I was vacillating between being a fair-weather Christian and piloting the plane straight to hell.
I have carried those feelings of inadequacy with me into adulthood.
I found myself in my twenties and, then, thirties, always desperately trying to just… be… enough.
One perfect example of this is when I went out with my coworkers years ago.
We planned to have dinner after work on a Friday and spend the rest of the night having drinks at a karaoke bar.
One of the women claimed she was a professional singer. (Narrator: That couldn’t be further from the truth).
I had no real circle of friends at the time, and they begged me to join them.
It was a recipe for disaster.
Me: desperate for friendships and a need to belong.
Them, desperate to have big fun (hopefully you read that in Claire Huxtable's voice)
I had convinced myself that I was finally a part of a group because they were begging me to come.
Finally, people wanted/needed me around.
I lived a very sheltered life, so this was my first time going out to a bar and hanging out with people outside my family or church youth.
I didn't know how to act or what to do.
I was not super relaxed, but I was also determined to be cool, fun, and relatable.
I just wanted to be a part of the group so they'd accept me.
The first mistake I made was not bringing a change of clothes.
Being a teacher on a Friday, I had on jeans and a t-shirt, as did my coworkers.
We planned to leave right after school, so when it was time to go, I noticed that these women were changed and dressed UP.
Meanwhile, your girl looked like she was a college freshman going home for the weekend.
I didn't know we were supposed to dress up.
I found out later, as they made fun of me relentlessly over my attire, they had discussed changing amongst each other and didn't relay that to me.
They thought it was hilarious.
After dinner, we went to the karaoke bar, where we all smushed into a booth.
The bar was noisy and crowded — and the sound of people singing karaoke terribly (and drunk) filled the room.
I was the only single girl in the whole group.
The others were married, some with children.
I somehow was chosen to be the designated driver.
I did not volunteer for this, nor did I make any implication that I would/would not drink.
It was just assumed that I wouldn't let loose like them.
So, in hopes of not wanting to upset them, I reluctantly agreed.
Mind you, I was definitely not going to get drunk with these women who weren't my closest friends.
But the fact that they saw me as a "square" or someone "responsible" and "safe" to use as their chaperone….sucked.
One of the girls who I was closest to in the group bought me a Sprite and found it hilarious.
So they teased me about that.
They found many reasons to laugh at me throughout the evening, yet I never stood up for myself.
I just allowed it.
I just wanted them to like me, so I took it.
They laughed at inside jokes (that I had no references for) and screamed/sang along to the lousy karaoke singing…
And there I was (the only Indian in this group of white women) trying to look like I fit in.
Men approached our table and shamelessly flirted, completely bypassing and overlooking me.
One even refused to engage in a conversation with me but made a comment about the shirt I was wearing to the women I was with.
I was sitting right next to where he was standing.
I was so confused.
Why would he comment about me but not direct it TO me?
Eventually, the night came to an end, and we all clambered back into the van, me behind the driver's seat to shuttle these drunk women back home safely.
Once I got home, I was so relieved that the night was over.
When I got home, I remember telling my sister that I would never do something like that ever again.
Not only was it miserable having to babysit these grown-ass women…
But every insecurity I had ever battled came crashing down on me all at once.
Those feelings of inadequacy were so heavy.
I was glad to have just survived it.
Until the following day, when all over Facebook, I saw pictures of our night out and statuses of how much fun was had, showering each other with love and praise.
Pictures from dinner.
Pictures from the booth and the bathroom of the karaoke bar.
Pictures from the car ride to and from.
I was in none of the pictures.
I wasn't tagged in any of the statuses.
It was like I wasn't even there.
This is just one of many experiences that sum up how I have felt my whole life.
Whether or not people have been intentional or malicious in how they have treated me is something only God knows and will deal with…
What I know is how it made me feel.
That I am not enough….
…for people to want to be my friend.
…for guys to want to date me.
…for people to value me.
And yes, I know the Eleanor Roosevelt quote is probably screaming in your head right now:
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Good quote, Eleanor.
But let's be honest:
I was conditioned to believe that my enough-ness always depended on how other people saw/treated me.
If they treated me a certain way or had opinions of me, or failed me even in the slightest, I measured my worth by that.
Even if I go out of my way to make sure people know how valuable they are to me — if it is not reciprocated, I internalize it as not being enough.
I set unrealistic expectations for myself at work and take on more than I can handle because I am desperately trying to prove that I am enough.
I am self-conscious about how I dress and look because I worry that I won't look good enough.
I overcompensate in so many ways….
To make up for not being enough.
I am not here to tell you that I have it all figured out now, and now I believe I am enough.
Cause I don't.
Every day I wake up, it's the first thing I have to tell myself.
When I find someone attractive and start to find myself saying things like, "You're too fat, too short, too ugly, he would never …" I have to remind myself…
"You are enough."
In a few months, I will turn 39, and I don't want to be 40 years old, carrying the same baggage I have had since I was a child.
To spend four decades not valuing myself is heartbreaking even to fathom.
The reality is, I can change every part of me inside and out, and it will STILL not be enough.
I can lose 100 pounds and STILL not be pretty enough.
I can have all the degrees and STILL not be smart enough.
I can walk and talk with God every hour of every day and STILL not be spiritual enough.
I may not be enough for people, but it seems that I am enough for God…. because why else would He have kept me around for as long as He has??
I wake up every day with breath in my lungs because God thinks I am enough.
I am not enough just because God thinks I'm enough…
I am enough because God is enough.
There is no room to doubt how enough I am.
When I am doubting or questioning my enough-ness, I am essentially doubting or questioning if God is enough.
I am second-guessing the Creator of the Universe.
Do I have shortcomings and areas in my life that need to be refined?
But those things still don't take away from my being enough.
I am enough just as I am….with room to grow.
I don't know how long it will take me to reprogram myself and build up the confidence to believe that I am enough.
I wish I were like all those women who walk around self-assured and confident, who knows exactly who she is and what she wants, who doesn't require any validation.
I really wish I was.
But I'm not.
But I will get there eventually.
So regardless of what I've convinced myself or what I've believed all these years, it does not negate the fact that at my very core, I am a good, kind, loyal, funny, loving, honest, God-loving, K-drama obsessed, BTS Army/K-Pop music listening, hot mess of a person.
…and every day, I am one step closer to becoming the woman God has called me to be.
…and my enough-ness isn't based on who likes me, who follows me, who validates me…
God is enough, so I am enough.