My son, YaYa called me after school to tell me that the oral report he has yet to present is “not good enough.” The disappointment and rejection came through the phone line loud and clear. He further explained that the visual component of “everyone else’s” oral report was at a much more professional quality than his. There was a 3D Eiffel Tower, an elaborate bridge, and many more. My heart ached in hearing his reaction to being “not good enough” before even starting his presentation merely because his 4-leaf clover complete with multiple illustrations discussing the strengths and weakness of Dublin, Ireland was not of the same dimension. I hoped that the teacher’s grading would be heavier on content than artistic abilities for although I have contributed a bit to the efforts of his project, I have tried to keep a mostly hands-off approach. Truthfully, I don’t think that YaYa would have it any other way.
The traumatic event had me revisiting this post which I have been trying to write for upwards of two months now on a TED talk from October 2010 by Dr. Brené Brown, on Wholeheartedness. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend it.
When I first heard this talk, it gripped me as if Dr. Brown was talking to me and to me alone. It wasn’t as if her words and the concepts she presented were far reaching. I listened and nodded in a knowing way, wholeheartedly agreeing with all that she said. Wholehearted? Yeah, that’s me, I thought.
But when her talk reached the worthiness discussion — which took her talk one step deeper — I found myself in tears.
If there is one thread (or snag, that is) that continually has scarred me throughout my entire life, it is that I often feel as if my hard efforts result in something that is less than. I give with all of my heart, only to have the recipient accept my gift with less enthusiasm than hoped. The result is that me feeling like it was not good enough. Can you see why YaYa’s latest disappointment had me revisiting this post?
In relationships, this same feeling translates into a feeling of unworthiness. Growing up, the lack of hearing the phrases “I love you” and “I’m proud of you,” left me wondering if I could do anything right. I tried harder, but for not. The words just didn’t come and I often wondered why I was not worthy of love or pride. This was just the beginning of this thread of unworthiness that has weaved on through my life.
Oh, how I have longed to be loved and worthy of love. I gave more and more…and found more and more hurt. Starved for love, my efforts never seemed to be good enough to… make my now deceased husband smile, hear that dinner was good, or even to qualify for Boston (and be accepted into the race).
Thankfully, I haven’t given up. With that wholeheartedness that is woven through my core just as much as this false sense of not good enough, I continue to love, and give, and strive for my best. Although some may not choose to accept my efforts as worthy in their book, I have come to believe (on most days anyway) that I should not be defined by that. For it is not their opinion that counts; it is mine. And I am worthy, damn it!
YaYa is too.