Shut the door, then open a new one. Follow your path, or just go a bit further down the road then you’ll turn a corner. Take a bitch of a detour. Do all of it, and still head in the right direction. And don’t forget, YOU are in the driver’s seat, sweetheart.
How many of those delightful little nuggets have woven their way into conversations where you’ve either given or gotten advice? I would hazard a guess that travel-related idioms are the most over-used group of phrases banded about, and quite frankly I think they’re awesome. Because who doesn’t want to go somewhere? Anywhere?
Sometimes it’s towards a place, a person or a plan. And other times it’s away from a situation, a group of people, even yourself. The idea of travel works equally as well at a metaphorical level as it does in the literal sense. We all want growth and movement and progress. But if we’re continually stopping and starting, taking new paths, crossing bridges and speeding up, do we not stand the risk of driving ourselves over the edge?
I was a midget human when I first heard Nirvana’s lyrics “take your time, hurry up”, and it puzzled me. In my teens I took it to have a similar meaning as Alanis’ infamous hit, where she rattles off irony-filled verses which sparked debate on use of the literary device. Fast-forward a few decades and it all clicked into place during a voicenote sesh with my friend 10,000 miles away. And I can’t help but appreciate the irony right there, because it was the oceans between us that helped make sense of the great, late Mr Cobain’s contradictory song. Which really should be called ”Come as you are, but only if you can do it better.” So we’re having our daily download and generally pondering life’s little wonders and woes, when my pal sends me a message describing her struggle to lose weight. During her self-deprecating tirade, it struck me just how often she said‘I just need to…’. Twelve times, and 12 commandments. ‘I just need to stay on plan’. ‘I just need to go to the gym three times this week.’ ‘I just need to stop eating shite.’ ‘I just need to stop eating but still enjoy my weekend.’ And it was the last one where the penny dropped.
We will never be good enough.
How many of us in generation Y – us millennials born from the baby boomers in the 80’s and 90’s – will ever be thin enough? Fit enough. Curvy enough. Pretty enough. Smart enough. Good enough. Rich enough. Popular enough. Successful enough. Funny enough. Happy enough. And it works the other way too. We’ll also never be busy enough, bad enough, sad enough, poor enough, hard enough and depressed enough. You’ll never be the worst off. And why would you want to be?
We are existing in a world where we’re climbing a mountain and no matter how well or fast or hard we climb, we’ll never reach the peak, which turns us into a victim. Like taking a step forward but not going any distance at all – being on the road to nowhere even though we’re all trying to get somewhere. Our lives are like being on a bloody treadmill that’s stopped clocking up the kilometres! Hmm, damn those pesky travel idioms and their usefulness in explaining this realisation.
Enough is never enough because we’ve made it so. Whether we blame the media, celebrities, Instagram or consumerism, we have let ourselves become a generation where our heads are always racing ahead into the future, wishing for something different and another reality. Willing for more. More weight loss, more beauty, more friends, more money, more pity, more support, more time. More of everything because we never think what we have is good enough. All the while missing the point that our life is happening right here, right now, right this second.
Now, you’ll likely have been told once or twice in your life that you are enough, and if not, you’ll have seen the quote being pinned left, right and centre online. You are enough. I felt so strongly about these three little words that I very nearly got them tattooed as part of my sleeve. As someone who struggles through daily doses of pretty powerful anxiety I thought I would do well to remind myself every time I look down at my arm. But the fat chat with my bestie came at just the right moment – the day before I was about to put needle to skin, the truth availed itself.
I will never be enough.
That’s not me throwing myself a pity party. On the contrary. None of us will ever be enough. So we accept that we could always be bigger, better, faster, stronger, but as Daft Punk put it, “our work is never over” in the process. And who the hell needs that? Who among us wants to accept that we’re on a hamster wheel of more, more, more that never stops, in every aspect of life. Picture waking up in 30 years and realising that your entire being had focussed on what you didn’t have as opposed to what you did. We’re a generation in danger of not just wishing our lives away, but spending every waking second berating ourselves for being some kind of dud version. Like a faulty iPhone that’s constantly reset to factory settings whilst waiting for a new model to be released that we can never afford. I implore you, instead of going along with that which you know is a lie – that you’re ok with not having the latest iPhone – sit with the idea that this isn’t enough.
Embrace the idea that you are not, in fact, enough. Just for a moment. And do this in the knowledge that nothing good is ever actually enough. How does it make you feel? Do you feel a sense of relief? Even ever so slightly more chill, or a little lighter, perhaps? What we do by embracing this way of thinking is to give ourselves permission to be enough – not to wrap a state of ignorant bliss around something that wants to be acknowledged.
Since realising this shiny nugget earlier this year, I’ve started to feel a bit better about myself and the so called life I live. Once I came to terms that I’ll never be good enough, a sense of calm kind of enveloped me. Not that it’s made me lazy in a “well, why bother then” kind of way. Or even that it’s made me chill out more (my boyfriend will testify to that.) It’s actually had the opposite effect – in realising I will never be enough, I feel a little more in control and empowered. I can defiantly quash those feelings of failure when the imposter syndrome hits hard, and I feel more ok when all doesn’t quite go to plan. When I don’t get through my workload in a week, I’ll (eventually) bring myself round to remembering that no matter how hard I’d worked it would never have been enough. Same thing when I don’t get the results on the scales I’m after, or when I accidentally forget my besties birthday. Or when I just can’t juggle all of the balls in the air, all of the time. It’s just reframing ‘we’re all human’ to fit into this insanely-paced, pressure-filled, socially impossible era that we’re navigating through.
Whilst I’m not about to get a tattoo that says ‘I am not enough’, I’ll probably go as far as getting an Etsy poster printed. Because sometimes we all just need to calm the f*ck down and stop striving for the impossible.