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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

i am good enough

I live in New York City. And I wouldn't want to live anywhere else right now. It is a wonderful place to live, but I am well aware of the trappings. Perhaps it's because I'm such a newbie here, but when these trappings present themselves they hit me like someone has just slapped my face. New York can be a place where conversations center around:

Where do you summer?

What private school are your children attending?

Do you own a home in the Hamptons, too?

And if it's not the actual conversation, it's the air in which someone talks to you. I often feel I am being sized up and judged immediately.

The concrete jungle is an expensive place to live. It can be a place where your bank account defines you. I've seen an air of self-importance here more than anywhere else. It is a place where the outside often matters more to people than the inside. It is a place where parents drop thousands of dollars on their kid's birthday parties just to keep up appearances. A place where one's address tells others who you are. A place where it is important that you are seen bidding at an auction so others know you have expendable cash. While I really want to live in New York right now, I don't ever want to live in that New York.

Rod and I have frequently discussed this side of New York. It is our desire to always be authentic. No matter how long we live here- we want to stay true to ourselves. We want to make sure our children don't get caught up in the outer shell of what many New Yorkers call important. We don't want a certain lifestyle to define who we are or are not. While it's true that we don't make the huge salaries that many do here, we still don't want to find ourselves sucked into the lies of thinking we are not good enough. That is a miserable existence.

I am good enough. That's a powerful phrase. I am good enough when I am honest and true about who I am. I am good enough.

I recently ran across a blog that brought all these things to the forefront of my mind and thought I would share it with you. The author is Brene Brown. Here is an excerpt:

Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone; I am enough.

It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging.

So many of us have knowingly created / unknowingly allowed / or been handed down a long list of worthiness "prerequisites."

I'll be worthy when I lose 20 pounds.

I'll be worthy if I get pregnant.

I'll be worthy if everyone thinks I'm a good mom.

I'll be worthy if I can make a living selling my art.

I'll be worthy if I can hold my marriage together.

I'll be worthy when I make partner.

I'll be worthy when I can do it all and look like I'm not even trying.

and so on . . .

Here's what is truly at the heart of Wholeheartedness:

Worthy NOW! Not when. Not if. We are worthy of love and belonging NOW. Right this minute. As is.

I hope this speaks to you as well. I know anywhere can be like New York in this regard. I've just never seen it in such magnitude before we moved here. I want to guard myself from feeling like I am not good enough.

I'd love to know your thoughts. Do you struggle with feeling like you are good enough?


Jamie Lee said...

This is such a true message that we all need to hear from time to time. These days I find myself in a very similar situation, where the conversations are simply "out of my league." However, the truth is that these people are not out of my league, and God has placed me among these people for such a time as this.

Shana said...

Thanks for the post! It is a struggle in this city to daily remind myself what is truly important. For the most part I am able to shrug off the self-importance, materialism, and social climbing that defines so many people that I see & know. But every once in a while I catch myself striving, comparing & ultimately feeling inferior. So thank you for this awesome reminder. I'm so glad you guys are here!

Marie Lee Carter said...

This post speaks to me! I live with my husband and son on the UES in a very modest way (tiny quarters, walk up, etc). My son has friends who have the lifestyle that you described above and it has been my husband's and my mission to keep our son grounded and proud even without the huge bank account, hamptons home and disposable income. Though I could already tell from your previous posts, it is wonderful to read about a family that focuses on the values that are truly important.

RachelNoah627 said...

Beautiful Michelle. Thank you for this. I want to post those words somewhere I will see them often. This was timely for me and I'm sure many others.

Adrienne said...

I grew in in Scottsdale, AZ. People wonder why I don't return there to a teenage girl, more and more and more was what I thought was "normal". The problem with "more" is it isn't "all", so no matter how many toys or possessions or titles we have, there will always be another with "more", thus breeding discontent if that is what we seek. Knowing we are good enough and that God made us specifically, designed us uniquely, and placed us strategically here on the earth gives a peace and confidence no bank account can ever buy. You are good enough...hell, you are better than good enough! Thanks for the reminder! xoxox

Ashley Mutschler said...

Such a good post. I think things like this all the time, but you're right. If we don't see ourselves good as good now, how will anyone?

ItchyBits said...

Every single day!! I don't live in NYC but NJ in the land of McMansions. By some stroke of "luck" my children seem to have fallen into the generation of super sized homes. It's almost comical sometimes when we see some of the homes of their friends. Basketball court sized living rooms etc. Our house feels tiny and inadequate in comparison. These are one income families too. We are mildly embarrassed when their friends come over - seriously - it's stupid because my house is totally fine...smaller than I would like but nice. At our age we're not going anywhere cuz we prefer to not have a mortgage when we are 80 and don't even get me going on property taxes in my state. Hard to not feel less than worthy though and I wonder what my kids think? Does it make them feel inadequate too? Every time we have a discussion about trading up they say they don't want to move. Never saw this one coming.

A Gift Wrapped Life said...

I could never get away with thinking I was defined by our income (because that is what we are talking about right?) my most practical and hard-working husband would throw me out with the bathwater. Maybe because we were married students (and poor)and both came from humble backgrounds, we have respect for everyone, not their address. We are most proud of the fact that we have passed this along to our son. Truthfully, I am never envious of people who have money or a great address, I just feel sorry that they think it is a quality by which they are defined. Good post!

Paloma, a mãe said...

Nice post!

Anonymous said...

I liked your post so much. Although I don't have to fight the "fit in" crowds of NYC b/c I live in a very small town in Mississippi, I still understand the saddness of feeling like I'm not worthy. I've been skinny all my life, and now that I've gain weight (quite a few pounds I might add) since having my 2's so hard to think that no one would want me. Although I'm married to my wonderful husband (10 years this year!), I somehow feel sorry for him b/c he has me. I am worthy of love just as I am. It's just nice to be reminded. But, that doesn't stop me from losing this baby weight! I have got to get some new running shoes.... :)

Kellee said...

So true, Michelle! I talk with friends in the states all of the time who can't believe I am happy living in a "3rd world country." But happiness has nothing to do with bank accounts, salaries, or big houses! For me, happiness comes by living your life for others, by giving of what God has put in you to benefit those around you. :) Great post!

Anonymous said...

Love your blog! Came to it by way of Apartment Therapy and I'm hooked! My only advice is, move out of the Upper East Side if you want to avoid those questions and that attitude. (There are certainly some down-to-earth east siders for sure, but after 15 years in the city -including 2 yrs on the UES-I can tell you it's kind of the epicenter of the "where do you summer?" lifestyle.) Here's a plug for the west side: We're down to earth over here!

Shannon said...

Thank you for sharing your true outlook on life on the UES. I also adore the worthiness segment that you posted from the other blog. It is so hard to stay grounded, when you are surrounded by those who really feel that materialism trumps all- not only do I live in NJ, but I also work amongst those who are of this thinking. I am also surrounded by the ever-nagging and ever-present pressure of not being a stay-at-home mom, which always weighs heavily on my soul. Still, the thought that my 1 year old sees how much her father and I love her and that we will always be there for her is what keeps me from throwing my hands up in air and calling it quits. BTW...we are planning a move to the city, in the near future, and we are thinking Union Square to LES in hopes of keeping our daughter grounded in the diversity of the city and not the material ways. Hopefully, this will come to fruition! said...

We have lived a small, frugal life for 35 years. We didn't travel or buy new cars or remodel our house like friends of ours. We just kept working and paying our bills. We lived a good life and were happy but often felt that we weren't "good enough" because we didn't spend money like those around us.

Now, we have our cars and house paid for, still nothing fancy though. People wonder how we can afford an apartment in San Francisco. We remind them that it's a very tiny place with a million dollar view and we are leasing, not owning. It's our life and we are happy and we know we are "good enough."

sherilee said...

It's amazing but not surprising that this post strikes such a chord with so many. The urge to see ourselves as "less than" is universal, and what we're measuring ourselves against is always relative. I'm blessed to live in a very rural environment where the spectrum of haves and have-nots is less than NYC, but the mindset still exists, and it's something I think we all have to remind ourselves of on occasion: Life is precious and fragile; don't waste your time on fleeting and temporary "things," spend your time on the people and experiences that will add real richness to your life. Thanks so much for the reminder.

Anonymous said...

I have sat down to dinner with multi millionaires and with poor folk like me. I really don't care about anyone's bank account because it's all about the heart. I often allow myself to be judged (in my own head) in regards to my house or neighborhood, but I honestly pray that the Lord daily reminds me that I'm worth more than all the riches man can attain!

Great post Michelle! Thanks for sharing!

fe said...

Good post!! I live in NYC too and, like any other normal person, I have some struggles. But I just love it, because this makes me stronger each day. I don't have money, but I'm making it through and it's being truly wonderful.
Thanks for sharing this with us. I really enjoy your posts.


Hobbit said...

I just found your blog and love it! Keep doing what you are doing!

Brenda said...

I was reading on Forbes today about how Warren Buffet still lives in the $31,000 house he bought decades ago. He certainly doesn't feel that his address defines him! I loved reading this, Michelle! It's important to stay grounded and not let a "label" (whatever that label may be) define who you are.

Miss Gracie Hair Bows said...

You are worthy! Thanks so much for your blog, a read I look forward to daily. I admired you from the beginning. Was so impressed when you sold belongings and put all of the boys in one room and this post just confirmed the values I presumed you had. We are Southern Californians now living in England, a move from one affluent area to another - sadly it is not just an NYC thing, people everywhere judge others. Like you, we now own less, live in smaller quarters and have learned that who we are and not what we have is what matters.

Anonymous said...

one of the most significant journeys my heart has been on this past year is learning to let go of my "i am not enough" complex.

i am enough because He is enough.

it's taking a long time for that to sink way down deep to that place inside me that would cause me to live like i believe it. and i think it's going to take a long while still. but i'm willing to wrestle with this one till the end. because i'm tired of living the lie that i'm not enough.

Lindsay Dewald said...

Thank you for sharing michelles. I teach at one of the private schools you speak of...It gets hard being the teacher, dealing with families who do have the summer vacation homes, range rovers that sit in parking garages and 5 nannies even though the mom's are stay-at-home. I don't want that life for me, but when you are faced with it day after day you do question yourself and lifestyle. Like you said, my husband and I make good livings and are happy, creative, generous people. Shouldn't the people on the other side be having the exact same questions we have but vise verca?

Lindsay Dewald said...

I called you michelles...that's weird. omit the s.

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