Advice, Lifestyle

I am enough for myself

I am enough for myself.

That is the declaration I repeat in my head whenever things get tough —  I am enough and I am happy because I have worked so hard and tirelessly to get where I am today. 

I know I want to grow more. I know there are some days where I will struggle, where I will have to fail and get back up. While I dread those days, I understand it’s inevitable. It’s a part of my life, the same as it is a part of yours.

And today, on the dreary Thursday when I’m writing this, with the sun vanished from the sky at just 4 p.m., I’m feeling a lot. 

Worthy is one of them. Small is another. 

Small in the sense that I still have so far left to go. Such a thought terrifies me, but now I look back at the past — at all the times I’ve felt like I’ve reached my limit — and I smile because I am here, I am living and I am writing every page of my life exactly how I envisioned it. 

But I can’t help but think about the fact that the people who mattered most —  the ones who were supposed to believe in me in the past — did nothing of the sort.

My teachers and mentors never directly told me that I couldn’t make it, but it hurt just as much.  The disappointment in their faces when they’d hand me back a test I did poorly on, as if I weren’t capable of improving and learning. The opportunities they wouldn’t give me when I missed a dance rehearsal, as if I can completely brush off my personal life. 

The reason I’m here today is because of me. Not because of them. 

Before going on, I do need to mention that I had some admiring role models to look up to. My parents immigrated from China and started a new life in Canada because they thought I deserved more than their childhood could offer them. My brother wakes up every day and puts his passion to good use. Other role models include my university guidance counselor, my writing teacher, my dance coach and so many more. 

But with the good comes the bad, and I can never fully shake off the question of ‘why?’

Michelle writes about her struggle with believing in her self-worth and a reliance on validation from others in her life. COURTESY OF GIULIA BERTELLI VIA UNSPLASH

Why was I never good enough for them? Why did they think digits on a piece of paper defined who I was, and more importantly — why did I let them define me? 

I would like to say I’ve grown out of such a habit, but that would be a lie. Even now, my sense of self-worth heavily relies on the validation of others — especially when it comes to academics. I’m a student, I’m in college, and while the end goal is to build a life I’m happy living, I need some kind of encouragement to know I’m heading in the right direction.

That encouragement comes in the form of good grades and praises from experts. 

It’s wrong to think that, I know. But I’m stuck. I can’t seem to shake off this mindset. I get a bad grade, and my whole day is ruined. I get negative feedback, and it’s the only thing I can think about for weeks. 

I know I need to separate who I am from what I am capable of. One doesn’t define the other. 

People have told me in the past that opinions of you don’t matter and shouldn’t matter. I need to take that advice — after all, I’m right where I want to be, even though so many of my high school teachers didn’t believe in me. I want to slap a note that says “I told you so” on their desk, and I want them to see that their hurtful words didn’t leak poison into my life. 

But a part of me knows it’s not that simple. 

I need validation from others to keep going. It’s a tough thing for me to say because it’s not something I’m proud of, but the first step toward growth is to acknowledge what you’re trying to grow from.

This is my baseline, my insecurity. 

I am enough for myself.

One day, I will make sure I believe that.

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