“I’m never going to be good enough.”
The words hung in the air, as if they were daring me to take them back. I had said them out loud to nobody in particular.
I had just felt betrayed by a man who continued to string me along. Over the past four years I had tried everything – tried to be his girlfriend, tried to be his friend, tried to be something in between – and yet nothing I did could make him want to be with me. Nothing I did could make him text me. No matter how much he laughed when he was with me, or how great our chemistry was, nothing I did would ever be enough.
I was feeling the same way about work, and about this blog. I’m not a good enough writer to pitch to any publications. I’m not a good enough influencer to request money for that campaign. I’m not a good enough photographer to be taken seriously. I told myself these things over and over again.
When I was a teenager, I was full of confidence. Blissfully unaware in my little high school bubble – one without social media, it has to be noted – I had the confidence to do all sorts of things. I got my poetry published in magazines, and my photos, too. I tried out for the lead in the major production and I got it. When people gave me compliments, I listened.
Somewhere along the way to becoming an adult, I started to lose that confidence. “Why would anyone want to read this?” I thought, abandoning the book I worked on for two years. “Why would anyone want to look at this photo?” I thought, deciding not to publish that photo online. Even though publishing blog posts and social media posts made me feel productive, which in turn made my confidence flourish, I felt trapped in a vicious cycle of not being good enough.
Similarly, my dating life was in the same predicament. I’ve always had the terrible habit of placing guys on pedestals – even really shitty guys – and so often based my self-worth on how they treated me, fully ignoring the fact that you teach people how to treat you. When a guy I was dating wouldn’t answer my text for five days, I would let it destroy my self-esteem. To his face I’d act like everything was totally fine. And no matter what your friends say, if I guy isn’t texting you, you’re only going to think one thing: I’m not good enough for him.
And that’s how I found myself feeling a few months ago. Frustrated that a guy I really liked wasn’t making space for me in his life. Convinced that I was just a mediocre writer and photographer in a sea of amazing creators. Exhausted at endlessly comparing myself to others, exhausted at endlessly thinking, “If only I was ____________, I’d be more successful/more loved/more __________.”
“I’m never going to be good enough,” I said out loud, staring out at the London skyline.
And you know what?
It was like a switch turned off inside of me. However I was feeling inside – frustrated or overwhelmed or exhausted – it felt ten thousand times worse to tell myself I wasn’t good enough. That I wasn’t enough.
If you never put yourself out there in a relationship, you’ll never get hurt. If you never try for that dream job, you’ll never have to tell yourself you didn’t get it. Telling yourself you’re not good enough – telling yourself you’re not enough – means making excuses over and over again. It means giving up on yourself before you even try.
So I’m done feeling like I’m not good enough. I’m done letting others make me feel like I’m not good enough.
I am enough. You are enough.
You’re not enough because you’re smart or strong or attractive or successful. You’re not enough because this person loves you or that dress fits you. You’re not enough because you got an A+ or a raise or 100 new Instagram followers this week. You are enough, period.
You don’t need to quantify it with a list of “becauses”. You don’t need to justify it. Similarly, you don’t need to earn being enough. You are enough just as you are, right at this moment. Have confidence in yourself; believe in yourself for no other reason than you are you.
Of course I want to push myself to be a better version of myself; I want to work harder, for example, and write more. But there is no achievement that will ever convince me that I am enough unless I already believe it from the get-go. I want to reach my goal of visiting 100 countries in my lifetime? OK, but it won’t mean much if I don’t feel good about myself before I get there. I shouldn’t ask for payment on a campaign until I hit a certain amount of followers on my social media accounts? All right, but with that attitude, I will forever be devaluing myself and striving to get to the next level without appreciating what I have right now. I’ll feel attractive and wanted only if that guy asks me out on another date? Fine, but with that lack of self-esteem, I wouldn’t want to date me, either.
Of course it’s going to sting when another blogger tells me I’m not a good photographer. Of course it’ll affect me if a guy I like stops calling. Of course I’ll feel down if I lose out on a work opportunity. But I cannot let that negativity eat up my self-worth and affect me in the long run.
There’s no such thing as perfect. But there’s no such thing as good enough, either. There’s only what we are, right now. We can choose to look down upon it or choose to celebrate and support it.
Being enough doesn’t mean that you are entirely self-sufficient, and that you never have to ask for help. Being enough doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes, or mess up. Being enough doesn’t mean that you should stop working hard or stop working on yourself or stop trying to nurture relationships with others. Being enough means not giving up on yourself, no matter how often you’ve been told – by others, or by yourself – that you’re not capable, or that you’re not worthy. Being enough means acknowledging that you are capable and you are worthy.
This is a work in progress for me, as I’m sure it is for us all; if we were all filled with confidence and self-compassion, the world would be a much different place. It will take me a long time to regain that self-esteem that I once had, and it might be a very long time before I can read my writing without focusing on the apparent weak spots, or look in the mirror without noticing my supposed flaws, or date someone without feeling that I am inadequate. But I’ll get there. I have faith in myself that I’ll get there. We are forever learning and growing as human beings, and those changes are what makes us so extraordinary.
And whatever you might be struggling with, I have faith in you that you’ll get there, too.
Life is too short to spend it focusing on all of the things we think we can’t do, or the people we can’t be. We are enough, just as we are.
And for the record, I deleted that guy’s number. Sometimes all it takes is a baby step to get you going.
Have you ever felt like you weren’t enough, either in work, relationships, or other aspects of life?
WHAT A QUEEN! Lately I have been feeling like I’m not a good enough friend or family member or student or traveler because of my anxiety and insecurities. This post really helped me. I am cate, and I am enough as simply being that. Thank you.
Aw, I’m sorry that you’re feeling that way, but YES – you are amazing, just as you are. 🙂 Thanks for your comment, Cate.
Brenna, you have beautifully summed up how s lot of us feel, bound by the comparison trap. Even if you did get 100 new followers, your joy would be temporary. Getting in to those jeans? Amazing, until you realise you will have to restrict yourself daily for the number you wear on a label on the inside of your clothes. The coolest people I know are the ones at peace with themselves. The people who are happy to just be and be accepted that way. There are plenty of people out there.. that guy not into you? Go stand by another one. His opinions make you no better or worse. Your opinion if you does matter. That’s the one you will rely on for many years and the one that will encourage you and empathise with you.
Fantastic artclie. So glad you deleted him!
Also- I would have bought and read your book. I simply adore your writing x
I love your comment. It is so true!!! None of that is lasting joy if you don’t feel good and confident to begin with, or if you’re constantly comparing yourself to someone else. Thank you so much for all of your support – I really appreciate it so much. And I’ll try to pick up the book again… or start a new one! 😉
Ergh, so many typos in my comment. It wouldn’t have been a lot of effort to proof read! I need to go to bed zzzz ha ha
I make so many typos on a daily basis, don’t worry! 😉
So valid and true – comparison is the thief of joy. It’s hard to always keep this in mind, against the diatribe of others and particularly that vile little voice that lives inside every person’s head. But I reckon over time it gets easier to ignore the comments of others and lower the volume on that voice of self-doubt. For the record, I think your writing and photogs are fab and many would certainly agree.
Aw, thank you so much. And yes, comparison really is the thief of joy. It’s amazing how many times I can tell myself that and yet I still let my mind go that way!
The same thing happened with me last month. Sometimes I wonder why I end up attracting douchebags only. But it felt good after deleting the asshole’s number. Good riddance!
Good riddance, indeed! Sometimes it’s something seemingly small that can really reset your self-confidence. Thanks for the comment 🙂
Um, fuck that blogger. I love your photos. They’re vibrant and colorful and I like them specifically because they’re not the same airbrushed thing as every other travel blogger on Instagram.
And your writing is some of the best too. It’s real and witty, and much more fun to read than the paid review of Universal Studios in Orlando that everyone seems to be doing right now. Your blog is something special, so please publish all that writing you think we don’t want to read. We do!
Aw, thank you so much, Jess! And see, that’s exactly it: sometimes I’m like, oh man, I’m not that blogger with all the big contracts and the perfect photos and blah blah blah… but do I really want to be that blogger?! It’s funny how the mind works! And yes, fuck that blogger, ha ha. For the record, I think I’m doing OK, but it’s amazing what self-doubt can do to your levels of productivity!
As always, this post made my day. Thank you for writing so personally -I’ve needed to read something like this for a while now.
Aw, thank you, Jennifer! Sending you lots of good vibes 🙂
Thank you for putting this out to the universe! I felt like I was reading something I would have written. I can relate perfectly to your dating experiences and it brings me both comfort and confidence to know I’m not the only one!
Thank you so much, Rachel! Yes, you certainly aren’t alone. We’re all in this together 🙂
Great post. What we do to ourselves by negative thoughts. Good for you to take back your mojo !
Thank you very much, Karen 🙂
Every time you post, it makes my day. So when it comes to writing and blogging, you’re doing something right!
Aw, thank you so much, Leandra! That really means a lot…
Fantastic post, very well said. I’m sure everyone goes through this on a daily basis, it’s one of those things that I always find a little funny about this situation. We’re always comparing ourselves to others, while those people we’re comparing ourself to are doing the exact same thing.
I’ve been feeling this way a TON lately, my wife and I are really trying to get our blog going lately and it’s a struggle, I constantly see all these fantastic blogs out there and then look at my content and think “well shit, this things isn’t going anywhere.”
Thank’s for this post, I think I really needed this boost!
Exactly. I remember my mum telling me that in the same way that I’m comparing myself to someone, someone else is comparing themselves to me. It’s a vicious cycle! I’m sorry that you’re not feeling great about things, but I agree that SO much of it is in our heads. Here’s to us escaping those feelings and channelling all of that energy into working harder! 🙂
This is such a good post and I hope that by writing it you are beginning to believe in yourself. As a Counsellor and Psychology Grad we studied Carl Roger’s Internal locus of evaluation:
‘A person centred counsellor supports clients to move from an external locus of evaluation to an internal locus of evaluation. … Those coming from an internal locus of evaluation are not dependent on the judgements and opinions of others. They trust in their own judgements and do not need other’s approval for self-esteem’.
It is a great state to work towards – by pleasing yourself and having confidence in your own decisions and abilities you will please those around you that love and care for you (and they are the only ones who matter), and your confidence will grow daily. Thank you for your honesty, you are showing us the reality of life on the road and life in general and you are helping others along the way. Remember YOU are the important person in all of this – then the rest will fit into place.
Thank you so much for this, Mari! And yes, I totally agree that it is so important to focus your energy on the people who truly care about you… and on yourself. You’re right – then the rest will fit into place. Thanks again 🙂
Full respect, Brenna. ❤
Thank you so much, Nancy <3
YES! Thank you so much for this post, it was exactly what I needed to read today/this week/this year! You, me, we are all enough!
Thank you so much, Kate 🙂
I love your empowering posts!!!
Thank you so much, Giulia 🙂
Re: that asshole who didn’t text you back, I’ve been in that situation before – one too many times, unfortunately. It was only last year that I told myself that I’m good enough, and enough of men who don’t treat me well.
Also last year, a thirty-something social media manager said that I’m too old to be a virtual assistant (I’m 42). Fuck them all! I’m now running my own content creation & consultancy business, earning more than that social media manager. So yeah, we are all good enough, in fact, we are better! 🙂 Chin up, Brenna! 🙂
Ugh – yes, I really need to stop dealing with guys who don’t even have the decency to text back! So dumb. And wow, are you kidding me? I honestly don’t understand how rude some people can be. Amazing that you are now running your own business!! Thanks for the comment, Kat 🙂
I saw this post the other day and saved it to read later, with more time. Now I read it and it`s funny and kind of ironic seeing the way you started it, talking about that guy. I actually have a dinner/date (can`t really call it a date if it`s not romantic, can I) with my ex… something. We dated for a little more than a month before I went to spend 5 weeks in Brasil and Colombia, and even though it was super intense and within a week he was practically living with me (first time this happens, I`m very jealous of my personal space) and I even met his mom – the same week he had asked me for a time-out (?), we broke up before I left but he still wrote me almost every day when I was there… Just to stop writing almost completely after I got back. So it is the first time in 2 months I`m seeing him and I know that I`m not in love with him anymore, but still, I nervous and anxious and imagining what I`m going to wear or say or how I`ll have to behave because…
Because of what??? I don`t want him back, I know that he`s not all that, I honestly don`t even think he`s a really hot guy – I`ve dated some really hot beautiful guys – but still, I feel this need to be perfect and to impress him… Why?
Because I, too, feel like I`m not enough. He`s not enough for me, but still, I`m the one doing all the effort. And that also happens with work – I`m a fellow blogger and a professional photographer, actually photography is my full-time job. I know I`m better than most at that, I know I`m pretty good, more than just pretty good, but still some days I just hate all my photos and nothing I do is… Good enough.
I wish I could say that reading your post made me realize that I have to change and that I`ll never be happy like this, but the truth is, I already know that. But sometimes I just can`t find it within myself to change it.
No ass-kissing here, you really are my favorite blogger, because you`re imperfect, but you show your real you, through your writing, through your honest thoughts, and come on, all those “oh so perfect travel bloggers with long tanned skinny legs, perfect hairs and an even more perfect life” that we see every day, we all know that this is all a huge lie, but still, we buy it, and we feel bad for not being that “perfect” ourselves.
So, yes, FUCK THAT!
Please keep being real and perfect with your imperfections, cause this is what makes me want to comment here and not on the other girl`s blogs. You are my inspiration. They`re not.
A big hug from this close stranger,
Thank you so much for sharing your story here, Vick… it can be so difficult to convince yourself that you’re enough when someone else isn’t treating you that way (I’ve been there so many times in relationships). It really means a lot to me that you’ve opened up here, so thank you for that!
And you are too kind when it comes to the words about my blog – I appreciate everything you’ve said so much! I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing without the support of people like you 🙂 Thank you so much!
This is just what I needed this afternoon. Self-worth is so important to our happiness and general health so I think it’s great you speak honestly about how so many women feel. You’re opening a door and giving women a safe space to share with each other about a topic that it quite often pushed aside and forgotten. Thank you.
Thank you so much, Eilish – that is what I really hope to do, to foster a community of women who feel safe to write and say what they think and feel. 🙂 Thank you for getting that!
I agree completely, Brenna. I felt like that last year when my boyfriend started treating me like crap. I decided that I’d be better off without him and focused on making myself feel enough. I think the core belief I held was that deep down I thought I was unworthy of love. Once I dealt with that, I actually found that I am happier. Because it doesn’t matter if you have a boyfriend, have a house, have your dream job. All that matters is you are kind to yourself and don’t allow anyone to distract you from what you want. Ironically as soon as I decided to go for the type of man I’ve always wanted but was never sure he existed, I met that man.
Anyone who messes you around, doesn’t bother to contact you, doesn’t show you that they are serious about being with you, doesn’t share their life, their secrets, their dreams with you isn’t worth bothering with. No matter how much we try to convince ourselves that we can make it work it will most likely fall apart in the end. It’s such a shame most of us have to go through a few not so great relationships to realise that. Well done for standing up and realising that you are enough. You have as much chance as anyone else at succeeding, so why not go for what you want? And if you don’t succeed, so what? Failure is how we learn, grow and it teaches us valuable lessons about ourselves. One failed career taught me that but without it I wouldn’t be where I am now. So write that book, follow your dreams, travel to all the places you want to go to. You are worth it.
I’m not sure how I missed this comment when you left it, but thank you so much, Kate – you are so right. This comment is so full of wisdom… and I am so glad that you are with someone who treats you as you deserve to be treated. I am finally standing up for myself a bit more in relationships and it’s difficult, but I know it will be better for me in the long run! Thanks again for such an amazing comment <3
Having just been ghosted by yet another man who made promises of building a life together, I have been consumed by feelings of inadequacy. Its a certain kind of self torture to overcome. Your realization is correct. You are enough. Thanks for sharing your writing.
I’m so sorry to hear that, Kelly, but take it from me – although it hurts so much right now, I promise that you will soon realise that he is NOT the man for you, and that you deserve so much better than that. I’m pretty cutthroat about that now; if someone can’t even text me, they’re not worth my time. I hope that you’re feeling much better soon, and thanks for the comment!
Thank you for your powerful and inspiring words sister. I love you so much xoxo
I love you too, sister xoxo
Oh gosh, all the time! Although I tend to think of myself as a confidant person, I tend to like guys that treat me like shit and make up excuses to not go for the things I want, whether that be a new job, or even just writing a new blog post because inside, I often think I’m not worth it or good enough. But you’re right Brenna – FUCK THAT!
I think many of us feel that way… but yes, I’m hoping to feel a lot more confident with work, especially! Thanks for your comment, Mo 🙂
Every time you post, it makes my day. So when it comes to writing and blogging, you’re doing something right!
Full respect, Brenna. ❤
Thank you so much, I really appreciate that <3
Oh my gosh! I loved this. I just found this blog and I’m planning to move to London soon. Please tell me you’re still there and that I can buy you a whiskey when I get there?
Great read! All the best!!
Love love love this! I am in the same place at this moment and can relate to much of what you wrote! Great advice that every woman should take.
Thank you so much, Laura!!