Never Good Enough

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Here’s the problem with fighting the relentless feeling that you are not good enough.

You never will be.

By most standards in our world today, for a person to be deemed successful rarely compliments a balanced lifestyle. You’re always “grinding” as the kids say, for something more tangible. Something you can show others, something that proves your worth.

The right body

The cool car

The cutting edge career

The perfect photos on Facebook (you know that IS a thing)

The idealistic College experience while you pretend you aren’t drowning in debt

The biggest and best vacations

 

And most importantly? Be sure to make it look easy.

You know, success.

Let me sum up my 2016 in a nutshell for you.

  • My apartment was robbed. At least $4,000 worth of my property stolen.
  • I ended up with a mysterious $2,000 water bill (long story).
  • I missed multiple career opportunities.
  • I took tests I didn’t prepare for and whined when I failed.
  • I had a tumor in my spine, and, well, it wasn’t good.
  • I did not, at times, listen to the people in my life that offered guidance.

But… Do you know what I did do?

  • I moved out of that apartment.
  • I paid that water bill.
  • I’m making new goals to pursue a desirable career.
  • I’m actually studying for those tests, and I intend on passing them.
  • I had that tumor taken out, and I’m okay now.
  • I’ve owned my stubbornness, and I keep chipping away at its source.

 

I have a below average body. My car is just…really black. The career thing hasn’t exactly taken off, and I can’t afford a vacation. I did have a great time in college, but I also had people helping me think through it and finish without debt. Yet, do you know what I truly believe? I believe when people think of Anna Marie Kuckelman they do not think failure. In fact, I believe they see a relatively “successful” individual by most definitions.

Yet….

Today I’ve been drowning in thoughts and feelings that are absolutely unrelenting. Today I’ve been thinking about how many things I should have done when I had the chance. Today I’ve been flat out mad at myself. Today the voices in my head have just swallow me whole and I can’t help but wonder why I am not more than I am.

And I thought about that…

For a long time…

I felt sorry for myself…

Then I threw an emotional fit …

Then I became really angry…

 

And then something occurred to me.

 

Do I feel like a failure because I am not by worldly definitions a success?

OR

Do I feel like a failure because I have nothing to show for who I am?

Here’s the truth. The most important thing to me is to be a good person. That’s not some hokey quote from tumbler it is the absolute truth. I want to be healthy enough to change the way others see themselves by being a reflection of what outreach and community and connection represents. Every single individual has a purpose. Every single person has a gift. I am certainly not an example of perfection in these regards but I am clear that they are values I aspire to.

And you know what…it makes me vulnerable.

I’m an easy person to judge.

Precisely because I vocalize these values as things I cherish and pursue.

 

But who is the harshest of judges? It isn’t you. It’s me. And today, at the end of it all I’ve landed  on a foundation I believe is healthy.

 

It is okay for me to desire a career that compliments my strengths, my gifts, and my passions without equating it to my worth. Who I am is not measureable. Not by a test, and certainly not by my income. After graduation I was in such a hurry to get out there and be “significant”, but I now know that I’ve needed this time. I’ve needed it largely for the aforementioned reason; so that I am not defined by it once “it” is achieved. I believe everything happens in a timing that works together for the good of the circumstances relevant to the individual(s) involved. Instead of being mad about where I am not, I am grateful for where “not being there” is leading me. Instead of fighting to be the person I want to be I’m searching for a career that will compliment who I already know myself to be. Loving, patient, intelligent, persistent, a visionary, and certainly, a success.

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When I Grow Up

 

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Mrs. Sammons peered over my desk earnestly, clearly interested in how my “career day” poster was coming along. I looked back to her, waiting for some kind of affirmation that my fourth grade aspirations were not without purpose. In the section where it asked, “What do YOU want to be when you grow up?” I had written in red ink “A good person.” Now, with the teacher peering over my shoulder the part of me that felt so sure and so big inside began to dwindle. I remember thinking how stupid it must sound. I began to wonder if my teacher would make me start the flyer over but in true Mrs. Sammons fashion she did not leave me feeling small. “Anna, this is one of the best answers I have seen today. Be sure to include what kind of things you will need to do in the corner section so that I know what it will take for you to become a good person.” With that she was gone and I was left feeling sure, this is what I wanted to be when I grew up, a good person.

Fast-forward 15 years and here I am. By most standards I am considered a well-educated individual with a wide scope of potential careers. It is interesting though, after 5 years of college, a degree in education, endorsements, and a minor in philosophy I was never explicitly focused on “academic excellence.” Ask anyone who went to college with me, I was always chatting away with someone. Be it friends, professors, administrators, strangers, I was/am a communicator! Along the way I managed to maintain strong grades and professional rapport, but really, I just enjoyed being in community with others. Currently I am not using any of my degrees, and to be honest I’m tired of explaining to others the “Why” behind my choice.

Well don’t you want to be a teacher? You would be an amazing teacher!

Are you thinking about going back to school then?

Would you ever be interested in doing the kind of work your mother does?

I know a really great principle in Montana that could use your skill set.

What is it you are hoping to do next?

Obviously I need to have an income. I realize that the world does not simply pay people to be good. Nor am I implying that you can’t be both a great person who lives in community with others AND an astounding professional. What I am insisting is that in general I (and I’m sure many of you) experience that instant underlying tone in conversation that links your worth as a person with your career or lack thereof. Single mothers get the same foreshadowing of shame all the time. Oh, so, you’re just at home with your son for now? No. The stay at home mom or dad is raising a child. They are building a little humans spirit from the ground up. They are laying down a foundation for which their child can stand. They are instilling morals, empathy, balance, and being present for the needs of their child. For the record, it’s also okay for no one to stay home, but why do these tones enter the conversation either way?

Again, it is because the world links our worth to our work, and it is a lie.

Let me tell you what it is I do want. I want to be like Mrs. Sammons one day. I want to work with children in the most open and efficient way possible be it through means of teaching or another career. I’ve considered pursuing a Masters degree in Counseling and related fields. I believe that one day I want to teach in juvenile prisons. I yearn for the moments I’ll spend with kids addressing the whole person and not the percentages plastered in red on exams. The simple yet profound truth that is often said “You can’t ask a fish to climb a tree” resounds with me on every level. Do I want to teach? Maybe. I’m not sure yet. Do I want to work with children and youth? Absolutely. But, I want to be like Mrs. Sammons. I want to be the adult that can look at a child and foster their intelligence. I want every kid I work with to know that their perception of who they are and what they are capable of is far beyond what I can do for them. Building children is the necessity, testing them is just a hoop we’ve created along the way. Whoever you are and whatever it is you do, be the Mrs. Sammons of your career.