I want it and I’m gonna have it!
A friend of mine proclaimed this casually in conversation a few months ago, and it’s stuck with me ever since.
I remember a feeling of awe.
She was so confident
With her statement, it felt like she was reaching up for the shiny red apple in the tree and plucking it without apology.
What would it feel like to be so bold?
It wasn’t that she was asking for anything particularly outlandish (in this case, a quiet space away from her husband so she could focus on her book) but that, in all my hoping and plotting for my own kinds of freedom, I’d never strung those words together – not even in the privacy of my own diary.
Rather than reaching for my own apples, somehow I’d learned to acquiesce into hoping someone else might pluck them for me. When I’d shown my worth, this person would hand one over to me approvingly and I would bask in a glow of acceptance and appreciation.
All I had to do was work hard enough …
Be clever enough …
Share my razzle, dazzle
Show my compassion and care
Explain how much was on my plate…
Give him the apple this time and next time he’d give it to me …
Living on ‘Just Enough’
Naturally, this exchange never worked out the way I thought it should. I never got the whole apple. Someone would pluck it, (It was there for the taking, after all) and then, if I was lucky, they’d carve me out a tiny little slice.
And, here’s the real tragedy, somehow I’d learned that this tiny little slice was indicative of how much I really deserved. In fact, I was unintentionally living by a different creed – one I think many women are familiar with: Just enough is enough for me.
Just enough money
Just enough love
Just enough time
Just enough recognition
Just enough quiet for my own projects
Who was I to ask for more?
Of course, this is what I deserve. This is what I’m being given.
Ending If/Then Thinking
I don’t know where I learned this just enough mentality, but I believe it’s birthed by another feeling in which so many are intimately familiar: less than.
Ah, yes, my old friend, Less than. That key driver of our capitalistic society. The reason for the diet books collecting dust under my bed, $700 haircuts (yes, this happened), designer jeans and dreams of wealth and fame.
If I were just prettier
If I were just smarter
If I just worked harder
Then, THEN I’d finally be worthy enough to deserve true happiness.
How clearly I am able to see this deficient thinking when I apply this equation to someone else.
If my best friend worked harder, then she’d deserve more financial stability.
If my sister were smarter, then she’d deserve more of my time?
If my niece were prettier, then she’d deserve more love.
So why, oh why, have so many of us learned to accept this for ourselves?
I could blame lots of things.
I could blame the difficulties of being a woman.
I could blame the hardships of being a woman of color.
I could blame growing up in a place where I did not feel that I belonged.
I could blame growing up in a place where I did not feel beautiful.
I could blame the media, Disney, the mean things kids said in junior high, the wrong men I’ve dated, the painful experiences of being chosen last over and over again.
But this is only part of the story. I have lived lots of places. I have achieved many things. And, for the number of times I’ve felt that I’m not enough, I’ve received double the affirmation that actually the opposite is true.
Why are we so attuned to believe our worst fears and to discount anything positive that a comes our way? Are we looking for confirmation that what we feel inside is actually true? Are we destined to solidify our own storylines so life keeps making sense to us, even if that story puts us in the role of the underdog?
You are what you settle for
I am over this story. It’s time to rewrite the script.
It’s time to yell.
I WANT IT AND I’M GONNA HAVE IT
Try it right now, if you dare. Yell it out your window. Say it until YOU believe it. How glorious!
Because trust me, whatever you want, I believe you deserve to have.
Can we be brave and reach out our hands to take what we deserve without apology?
How might that impact who is in your life?
How might that impact where you spend your time?
How might that impact the projects you pursue and the compensation you expect?
“You are what we settle for,” said Janis Joplin.
It’s time to settle for more than enough.