To be human, is to constantly wonder if you are enough. The very essence of humanity is to daily press on to wonder if we have done enough. Some question if they have done enough for their families, while others wonder if they have done enough for themselves. We move through our days asking ourselves, “Am I enough?”
People in the pageantry arts regardless of their role share very common traits. We are creative. We are competitive. We are perfectionists. We crave attention. This makes of a disastrous combination for our self-esteem. When we feel we have given life our best and life doesn’t seem to want to reciprocate, then we fall into a rabbit hole of doubt. It attacks our sense of worth and when our self-worth drops, so does our ability to teach youth appropriately. It doesn’t allow us to judge objectively and it doesn’t allow us to govern effectively. Not feeling as if you are enough causes a chain of events that is based on emotion over logic. Consider this scenario.
Premiere happens. Score is not what you thought it would be. The chain begins.
“I suck.” (At everything in the world.)
“The judges have always hated me.” (All the judges. Everywhere.)
“My kids aren’t as good as their kids.” (No proof this is even a thing.)
“The show sucks.” (I must fix the show. I must fix it right now!)
The process begins. You start to unravel the show without logic. You start listening to people you don’t trust over those that you do. Rehearsals become a nightmare for all involved. Changes and yelling becomes the norm. The feeling that you aren’t enough begins to be felt by everyone around you and then all of a sudden, you become the worst version of yourself. Your feeling of enough is wrapped in your ego and the two start battling each other and when that happens, everyone loses…including you.
Here’s another one. This battle is an internal one and we play it over and over in our minds.
Judge A gets to judge World Finals. Judge B was passed over. The assault of our confidence begins.
“This isn’t fair. I’ve worked so hard this year.”
“Why me? Why can’t anyone recognize me?”
“What have I done wrong?
“Who have I pissed off?
The questions are haunting and fill your mind with a barrage of negative thoughts. Your thoughts become a race toward the pessimism and can lead you down a path of sadness, depression, alcoholism, and sometimes even suicide. People don’t commit suicide, because they feel good about themselves. When successful people die of suicide we always wonder why. I often think it’s because they feel that they simply aren’t enough. What the world sees on the outside is success. What they see on the inside is failure. “Yes I made this movie, but it didn’t make enough money. It didn’t win enough awards. I wasn’t good enough in it. I could have been better. Maybe I shouldn’t have played that part. Someone else would have done it better. I wasn’t enough.”
When I question my own enoughness most, is when someone else reaches a summit that I have failed to reach. Some call it jealousy, but I don’t think that’s it. To me, jealousy is when you simply don’t have what someone else has and there is no rational thought as to why you really care to need what it is you covet. When you feel as if you aren’t enough, you start comparing resume to resume or looking across the street to success that doesn’t seem to be real. In our activity, it’s likened to comparing medals, finalists positions, or consulting gigs. When I question my enoughness my brain will jump to the extreme and when it does I forget about the uniqueness that is me. “What is it about me,” I will often ask.
Why do I always come so close, but never seem to make it?
What am I doing wrong?
Why am I always 4th and not 3rd?
What am I doing wrong?
Why can’t I win?
What am I doing wrong?
Why is my guard always smaller than my competitors?
What am I doing wrong?
It has taken years, but I’ve learned to stop those thoughts and if I can’t stop them, I’ve learned to shut them down quickly by simply saying, “Shelba. You are enough.” I’m old enough now and to be honest, have been through enough therapy to understand that my fear of not being enough cripples my ability to move forward. I now see the signs. I can now stop the thoughts, because I am enough.
To question yourself and your process is important, but to question yourself on what is wrong before looking at what is right, is when the feeling of not enough begins to surface. You use words such as always, never, and everyone.
I will never win.
Everyone else has succeeded, but me.
I will always be a failure.
Those thoughts if cultivated and given room to thrive eventually turn into feelings of grandiose doom.
Maybe the Universe hates me.
Did I do something wrong in another life?
You have to stop the thoughts, because you are enough. Say it. “I am enough.”
I dropped the toss.
“That’s fine. I’ll practice harder. I am enough.”
I didn’t win.
“O.k. I’ll try again next year. I am enough.”
I didn’t get the job.
“O.k. I’ll try for another one. Somebody will want me. I am enough.”
My kid isn’t the smartest in the class. He doesn’t win awards like the other kids.
“He is enough. I am enough. We are enough together.”
Say this, when you start to question the kids you teach and the staff you teach with. Say it. Do it now.
“They are enough. I am enough. We are enough together.”
The kids we teach need you to say that phrase everyday, especially the ones that seem to have it all together. They feel that their individual show wasn’t good enough. They didn’t catch correctly or they dropped, which in their mind is a tragedy beyond compare. They missed a count. They weren’t a great exchange partner. None of it is enough for them. They aren’t enough in school. They aren’t enough in life. They are not thin enough. They aren’t pretty enough. They aren’t smart enough. The very essence of adolescence is not feeling that you are enough. We have to stop the kids from going down that rabbit hole. We need to tell them that they are enough and there is more right with them than wrong. We need to help them find their uniqueness. We need to tell them to not compare themselves to someone else, because we are all fighting the battle of enough. No one ever told me that. No one. Growing up, no one ever told me that I was enough, so I kept searching for more. I kept wanting more. I worked and worked and worked. I wanted to be enough, but I was never enough…even when others thought they weren’t enough compared to me. I couldn’t enjoy the now, because I wasn’t constantly striving for more. Yes. I wanted recognition and I wanted leadership positions and when I didn’t get them, I felt as if I wasn’t enough and that feeling is discouraging.
In the song, “Hallelujah,” there is a line that speaks to me and my journey.
I saw your flag on the marble arch, and love is not a victory march. It’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah.
The song goes on to say,
Maybe there’s a God above and all I’ve ever learned from love was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you. And it’s not a cry that you hear at night. It’s not somebody who’s seen the light. It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.
Have you ever just listened to the words of that song? It’s an eerie love song, but it reaches inside to where love often takes us. All I ever learned from love was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you. Not feeling enough, is what makes you shoot somebody who outdraws you. It closes you in and locks you away. It puts up barriers, but if you remember that you are enough then the barriers wash away like sand.
For many of us, the pageantry arts is as strong of a love than any, because if it wasn’t the pageantry arts wouldn’t be developing into the art it is and the art it will become. Love is not a victory march. And neither is life. There is no real victory in life and the only game we play is inside our minds and the game is called not enough. So enough. Enough! You are enough. Your kids are enough. Your staff is enough and together you are enough. You are enough.