What does it mean to need to “be more” or feel like you are inadequate? For so many it means years of quiet desperation, and as a wise old writer once told us, that’s no way to live. The solitude of feeling inadequate and secretly wishing we were more like her or wish we had it all, like that guy… Well, the truth is usually that they are secretly and quietly feeling it too. That desperation that leads to feeling lost. Like there is someplace you are supposed to be and you haven’t quite even figure out where yet.
I was speaking last week at Villanova University to about 60 high school aged girls. They hosted the Girls Take Charge Leadership camp and I was the keynote speaker on the last day. My job then was to inspire and to send them out feeling good and ready to take on the world. Funny thing, this speaking profession. I often learn from those I speak to more than sometimes I think they learn from me.
Afterwards, I was befriended by a dozen girls wanting pictures, and then some more. One asked about writing a book. One asked about coaching. Typical stuff. Fun, laughter, and good feelings. As I was turning around to leave, two girls came up slowly with shy smiles and rounded shoulders. I could tell they wanted to say something.
I smiled at them, they quickly asked if they could get a picture with me. Of course, I very happily obliged. Then the magic happened. One of them turned to me after the pic op to ask me a question that was burning in her for quite some time I could tell.
“SO we were wondering… How can we raise our self-esteem, you know… be more confident?”
My heart melted. They asked the question. And I was so ready to answer.
I looked them both in the eye, put my arm out and grabbed their hands. And this is what I said…
“I know it’s hard now. You don’t feel like you are good enough sometimes, right?”
Their eyes got big and they nodded quickly, still smiling.
“Well, just like my lack of confidence story I shared with you… it can change. And it starts the moment you stop letting the thoughts and opinions of others decide how you feel about yourself. You are both beautiful, kind and smart young ladies…”
They smiled again, agreeing that they worry about what others think.
“So allow me to give you the one thing I needed to hear when I was your age. YOU ARE ALWAYS ENOUGH. Just the way you are. BE YOURSELF and the people who want to get to know you will, and the others will just fall away.”
They smiled and thanked me.
And that got me thinking… how often do we do this in our lives even as adults. We worry about others and their opinions of us. We feel inadequate like we are not enough. We allow what we think others will think or feel about us in every way to affect the way we live our lives. When did that become more important than our own happiness? It’s sad when we don’t think we are enough. And there are moments we all go through it.
But what if our only role here on this earth was just to be who we are and be that as well as we can. Like the willow tree outside my window. It didn’t grow believing it had to be a better willow tree… its seed wasn’t planted for it to feel like it wasn’t enough. It doesn’t know any better but to just be a willow tree.
What if we were the same, and we just showed up as our best selves in all we do.
I think that’s the real answer. We have more confidence than we think we do most of the time. We are our best selves inherently. Maybe we can just be ok with that and let go of the judgement and the second guessing.
Maybe… Just maybe… we are always enough.