am i enough

There are endless reasons as to why we might feel like we are not enough. We live in a world where “more” is best – more money, power, status, and hitting societal milestones like marriage, children, and home ownership etc. It’s as if these boxes that we check are some sort of indicator as to whether or not we are worthy. It’s so easy to wonder if it’s you, especially when that was the story you were presented with your entire childhood. When that’s the only thing you were always told, it becomes a part of you. If you have lived through an abusive parents, parental abandonment, the end of a close friendship, or feeling like you’re not successful enough, chances are that you have asked yourself “am I enough” so let’s dive in. 


Am I Enough? Overcoming Self-Doubt.

My story

I spent most of my life feeling like I was not enough. I grew up with two parents who did not love me unconditionally. They were incapable of doing so. My dad had 4 children and I’m the only one he sort of showed up for. I can’t think of one close, meaningful relationship my mom has ever maintained. She does not have strong relationships with any of her three children. Every situation she’s ever been in has been someone else’s fault. She blamed pretty much everything that ever went wrong on me. My rational mind knows all the facts. That I was just a kid. And still, it hits hard. I still wonder if I could do something to fix it – to make it better. From what I have read and learned in therapy, narcissistic parents often a factor when it comes to self-doubt. 

The time I was enough (and it didn’t matter).

When I launched my former company in 2012, I got a text from my mom that said “cool” – she couldn’t have cared any less than she did. But months later, when the site was featured in Forbes as a top site for women, I got the validation from her that I wanted for the entirety of my life. Except it wasn’t about me at all. I’ll never forget hearing “my daughter made it to Forbes” and feeling so…gross. Awful. As if I didn’t matter. I wanted to be enough for my mom for as long as I can remember, and finally getting there not only meant nothing, but it felt terrible. We didn’t speak for months, and that was the start of the real unraveling of what was left of our relationship. 

I have so much of what I wanted, but life isn’t perfect. 

The mind games, verbal abuse, name-calling, and trauma that I experienced as a child (and adult) hit a lot harder now.  The “you’ll never amount to anything” or “what am I supposed to tell people about you?” – I was never enough. Even though I knew what I went through wasn’t right, a whole new set of sadness and trauma arose when I became a mom. I experience giving two little people what I missed out on almost every single day. Seeing and feeling their happiness – which I wouldn’t trade for anything – made me realize how bad things were. I will never make sense of or understand my mom’s behavior or how my dad abandoned each of his 4 children. Eventually, I started to piece together a narrative around my experiences as a child (and adult) with the help of my therapist.

My experiences have impacted my relationships.

I’ve touched on this, but when my oldest daughter was sick, I lost some of my close friends. People I thought would always be my people were gone before we finished treatment. There were close friends (no one I worked with, to be clear) who were just gone by the end. Losing those close friends shook me. And there was someone who actually tried to use what we went through for their own personal (financial) gain, which just made me sick. But – the part that was hardest to process were these awful things happening, and where my place was. No relationship is one-sided and I am not someone who will just blame everyone else and move on. I even tried reaching out to one of my (former) close friends, and we messaged a bit, but it was all too complicated. 

Years later, I can see both sides a little differently. 

No, I am not sorry for how “bad” I was at handling my daughter going through almost 800 days of chemotherapy. Looking back, of course I was broken. Toward the end, or whenever I started to come up for a little air, I told my close friends that I empathized with them – with how hard it had to have been to be my friend throughout that time. My good friends handled it so beautifully. But too much damage had been done with the others and by then they were gone. It was one of the most painful losses of my life. It felt so deliberate not to reach out when we made it to the end of treatment, and I really struggled. I definitely struggled with not being enough, because how could they leave me when things were so hard? 

People grow apart. Life happens. 

In my case, when something like this happens, I am reminded that I didn’t matter enough and was never enough for my own parents. Or that is the story that I’ve told myself. The abandonment from my dad didn’t impact me the way my relationship with my mom did. I explained why here. Sometimes, this means going against the norm and ending a relationship with a family member – and I am not advising to just throw people away. The first step would be to try boundary setting and communication. Talk to someone. 

Strangely, I feel like I am enough for people I don’t know well. I can go into a friendship knowing I have something to offer.  I feel like I am enough for my children. Sure, there are days I fall short and feel guilt, but that’s normal. We all make mistakes, and the thing we can learn is to repair, apologize, and try again. 


Am I Enough? Things to Remember.


Recognize and accept your self-doubt

No, I am not telling you to be ok with your self doubt. But the next time it comes up, accept that it’s there. One of the most important things you can do is to know when you’re doubting yourself. Pay attention to patterns and work through them as they arise. This has been, for me, the only way to see change in my self-doubt. Try taking some deep breaths and listing some things that you do like about yourself. Reframe the story. Ask yourself why you’re doubting your abilities or who you are. In my case, it almost always goes back to feeling hurt and abandoned by my parents. Talk to someone. To your best friend. Your partner. And most important, a therapist. Do something to give yourself a break if you can’t quite shake it. 

No one is perfect. 

Here’s the thing. The people you’re comparing yourself to do the same thing you’re doing right now. We are all human beings and are our own worst critics. And no amount of “success” or “enough-ness” will change those deep-rooted issues. Look at Anthony Bourdain, Robin Williams, and Kate Spade. Incredible, talented, and successful people that were all living a life most of us would assume is a dream. People show you what they choose to show you on social media, and you don’t really know anything about them. Here are some social media strategies to improve your mental health.

The people that maybe let you down have their stuff going on, too. And sometimes, we think we’re a match when we’re not. It an be really hurtful, and it can take time to accept. Be kind to yourself. We all walk down our own path and it’s so easy to forget how far you’ve come. 

Consider who and what you allow “in”

I have worked with people who put me down or made me feel like my opinion or skills were less-than. My own parents let me down for as long as I can remember, and I had to make the very difficult decision to go no-contact. You can read more about that here. If there’s someone in your life who is always critiquing or criticizing you, or who isn’t really in your corner, it might be time to set some boundaries or reconsider your relationship. No one should ever make you feel like you aren’t good enough. Ever. 

The same goes for people you don’t really know.

I used to be so impacted by messages from random people who had less than kind things to say to me, about me. It took years and years to get to a place where I realized everything they had to say is really about them. We cannot expect everyone to like us, and feedback should be welcome. It’s how we grow, right? But to approach someone in an unkind and disrespectful way is never ok. When that happens (it is not very often), I delete the message, block the person who sent it, and let it go. 5+ years ago, those messages would have gotten to me. Maybe it was motherhood or just eventually not giving a f*ck, but letting that go was one of the healthiest things I ever did. I don’t allow those things into my life, and I am much happier that way. 

Progress over perfection

Look at how far you’ve come. At the progress you’ve made, and at what you’ve been through. Y

Reframe your mindset

It’s important that you are honest with yourself. Take responsibility for your actions and mistakes, and try not to be too hard on yourself. 

Talk to someone

I know, I know. I’m bringing up therapy again. But finding a great therapist can be life-changing. The good news is that through therapy, I have worked through a lot of my own struggles. Through the negative self-talk and external factors that got me to where I am today. I am a big believer in therapy, even when things are going well. No one has all the tools to get through everything in their lives on their own, and we all have something we can work on, or need to talk through. We can all benefit from therapy. All of us.