If you were to ask me how I feel about women constantly comparing themselves to other women and measuring themselves against this unspoken-yet-implied standard that our media uses to judge womanhood, I’d tell you it’s an outrage. A tragedy. It’s contributing to the low self-esteem that women as a whole face.
We see it every day in the media. Beauty is size 2 jeans. It’s wearing low-cut blouses and hip-hugging pencils skirts in the office every day (something I first noticed a few years ago in a TV show. I can’t remember which one, but it upset me). It’s a dainty feminine face, a flat stomach, and lean legs.
For the most part I’ve done an okay job of not buying into these standards and of accepting the body that’s been given to me.
But I’ve been learning lately that inner peace and self-acceptance goes a lot deeper than this. Envy doesn’t end at body acceptance. In fact, for me, it’s just the beginning of an uphill climb towards all-around self-acceptance. And it’s the part of that climb that I don’t think people talk about enough, or at least not nearly as much as we do positive body image, but it’s just as tragic.
For much of my young adult life, I’ve been haunted by this sense that I’m just not good enough at anything. I’m hardly ever able to focus on and enjoy who I am because I’m too preoccupied with who I feel I should be. I look at other women my age and see how accomplished they are, and I wonder if I’m doing something wrong with my life if I’m not as successful as them. I have these expectations of who I should be as a writer, as a student, and just as a young woman.
I should be better at crafting a creative nonfiction essay by now.
I should be more outgoing.
I should have more to write about.
I should have more items in my closet.
I should have my life figured out by now.
I should, I should, I should.
A little self-criticism and a drive to do better is a healthy part of anybody’s life, of course, especially that of a college student. But this pressure that I put on myself isn’t the same as a desire to boost my grade or to understand a difficult concept. It’s questioning my own basic worth as a person, wondering if I matter to anyone and if I’ll ever make something of myself. Because I want my life to mean something to someone, anyone.
I’m thankful that I found this Overcome the Lie campaign because it’s served as a reminder of something I too often forget:
I am enough, just the way I am, and I don’t have to go out of my way to prove that to myself or to anyone else.
My value doesn’t lie in what I do or whether I’ve achieved certain benchmarks or milestones or whether I’ve reached whatever perceived expectations others have of me. It rests in who I am, in my uniqueness and my passions and whatever it is about me that makes this world a better, more colorful place. I’m not like the people I’ve met on my life journey, and that’s okay. We’re all traveling different paths, and I shouldn’t compare my own journey to that of someone else.
I’m not perfect. There’s a lot that I don’t know and a lot that I can’t do. But I’m perfectly me. Perfectly Erin Daly. I’m a writer, a goofball, an occasional nerd, sometimes too quiet, always curious, and a lifelong learner. And that’s good enough for me. If I push myself to do anything, it should be in those things that would contribute even further to my sense of Erin Daly-ness, not those things that I think might make me look cool to others.
Whoever you are and whatever you do, I hope that you find that you are good enough for you, too.