At a young age we are taught how to say our names and how to introduce ourselves. Often, these introductions involve the phrase “I am”–“I am in the fifth grade”, “I am a student at *insert name of school here* “, or “I am 10 years old”. Easy.
My first year in college, I was told to write a paper for my fellowship program about who I am. I thought I had myself figured out and that this paper would be painless. To my dismay this paper was, and still is, one of the most challenging papers I have ever written. I was forced to face my insecurities, doubts, and negative thoughts. In the beginning of the paper I used mostly one word answers that were a part of my inevitable identity: “sister”, “black”, “female”. I was even able to muster additional, generic words such as “fun”, “loving”, and “honest”. When it came to writing down activities that defined me, I questioned my own passions and ambitions.
Can I call myself a runner if I stopped running after high school and the only running I do in college is to the nearby cafe or when I am trying to catch the shuttle?
Can I call myself a dancer if I shy away from opportunities to practice my craft?
Can I call myself intelligent when it seems as if everyone around me understands the material in physics and I live in a constant state of confusion?
By what standard do these words and phrases define me? Honestly, I am still not 100% sure. However, what I do know is that I will no longer allow the hateful words and comments from others define who I am. Whatever words I choose to describe myself will be just that: chosen by me.
Ok let’s try a little exercise: Spend 5 minutes and write down how your friends would describe you. For an additional challenge, spend 5 minutes and write down how God sees you and would describe you. Set the timer—no cheating.
Now that you’ve finished, spend the next 5 minutes and write down how you’d describe yourself. How do these thoughts compare?
Often times we are our own worst critics. If we are not careful we will find our thoughts spiraling and we will begin to define ourselves by our failures and shortcomings. And if you are like me, you may even internalize the negative words and labels others give you and allow that to determine your worth. Remember that you may make mistakes, but you are NOT a mistake. You have a purpose and deserve the very best that life has to offer. You are enough.
I used to compare myself to others and never thought that I could do enough nor be enough. I couldn’t sing well enough to audition for that solo. I couldn’t dance well enough to try-out for the dance team. I couldn’t study hard enough to make the grades I desired. I also didn’t think I deserved to be in the relationship I was in at the time. Why? Because I was not enough for myself.
Please know this–if you are not enough for yourself, no one will ever be. While great friends and (the right) romantic relationship can bring out the best in you, your worth must lie within yourself. You must first be secure with who you are in order to truly embrace the fullness of love that you deserve. It wasn’t until I realized how God sees me and how vast and deep His love is for me that I was able learn that I am enough. I am enough, because God is my source and He is enough for me when I fall short.
I challenge you to pay close attention to how you speak to yourself throughout each day. What words are you using to describe yourself? For every negative thought that comes to your mind about your appearance, intelligence, or past mistakes, replace it with something positive. Strive to have a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset. In other words, instead of saying “I am a failure and I can’t do this”, change it to “I am not sure how to do this, but I will figure it out.” Since I have already challenged you, I challenged myself to write down words that I struggle to identify with every now and then. One day I will believe every single one of these words wholeheartedly and will be able to say them aloud without any doubt.
Here it goes…
I am smart. I am artistic. I am a singer. I am an engineer. I am an activist. I am worthy. I am capable. I am enough. Who I am right now is enough.
YOU—yes, you darling are enough!