Am I Good Enough?
Last week I took a closer look at an ominous feeling of Am I Wrong? which I had noticed creeping around. At some point I wrote:
Eventually I found out that I had not done anything wrong. I was not born with the wrong sign – because there is no wrong sign. It is just some strange programme or pattern floating around; something, many of us have learned; the accumulation of all the “not good enoughs” we have been taught and experienced.”
I would like to take a closer look at those “not good enoughs”, today.
I suddenly became aware of all those “not good enoughs” that we experience throughout our lives and how they can actually affect and disempower us.”
When I am writing my morning pages I like to play with different handwritings and even switch between the Latin alphabet and the Sütterlin script (the latter is the German script people would use before the Latin alphabet was introduced in the 1940’s). I noticed how some letters look fairly similar in both scripts and suddenly remembered how my teachers in primary school made a big deal out of it that we were writing the Latin alphabet which was used to teach us how to write – in a special way.
I never understood what the big deal was about this – if this circle of an “o”, “a”, “d” or “g” is completely closed or maybe a tenth of a millimetre open; or if the “i” has a dot or a dash on top (in German it does not make a difference in the pronunciation); or if the “u”, “m” and “n” is well-rounded or slightly pointed. I felt, as long as one can clearly see which letter it is supposed to be, this all is part of the individual written expression of each person. I observed it in the handwriting of the adults – my teachers included. My grandmother, born before world war I, even used to mix some Sütterlin script in with her Latin alphabet.
Recently during my morning pages it suddenly occurred to me, that maybe they made such a big fuss about this in primary school because they wanted to make a point of the fact that we now write the Latin alphabet and not in a German script, anymore. In Sütterlin, for example, the “o”, “a”, “d”, and “g” are more open; the “i” is dashed instead of dotted and the “m”, “n” and “u” are more pointed than round. So, I suppose my teachers were so especially careful about all these little differences due to a political pressure.
I wonder what kind of fear was lingering behind this pressure. Sütterlin was replaced with the Latin alphabet by the Nazis in 1941 – followed by a ban of the German alphabet in 1942. Did the mentioned fear have something to do with that history? An old fear of not being accurate enough? Or was it maybe the fear of not being modern enough?
And so, the written expression of six-year-old children who just learned how to write already was limited by the fear of not being good enough.”
This little “not enough” might seem marginal. But here is the thing: Words are powerful. The ability to write can be a very powerful tool for expression. Writing with a pen on paper is part of this art. Especially at a time when not every household had a computer or even a typewriter. And the first thing they teach you about this tool is, that you are limited to use it in a very particular way. They teach you that it is more important to dot the “i” correctly than what you choose to express by using it in a particular word in a particular sentence.
Anyways, until recently I treated this limitation taught to me in primary school like an insignificance. What I did not notice was, that I also treated a lot of the things I had to say as such. Especially when I had not yet found a supposedly “proper”way of expressing it. It did not feel good enough to be said. But sometimes, ideas have to be stated before they are “ready insights” so that they can flow and grow and become whole. One cannot walk a path to the end when they think their steps are not good enough and therefore they do not allow themselves to move. Their steps cannot become “good enough” (should they lack anything at all) when they don’t practice.
So, here I am. No ready insights at hand, yet sharing a part of the journey.”
Now, I don’t feel stupid anymore for playing with different scripts during my morning pages or other occasions. I know that it is part of my expression as well as part of finding my own, personal and very individual way of it. It helps me to find the best way to contribute my part to the whole; to add my colour to the rainbow.
In fact, it was very freeing to discover this old programme and to notice how limiting it was. Had I not experienced this limitation, I perhaps would not even be aware of the power I have in my hands through writing – literally. A power I intend to continue to use lovingly and peacefully.
We always have the freedom to choose who we want to be and how we want to live this life given to us. We have the freedom to let go of old fears, patterns and programmes. We have the freedom to choose anew if some of our previous choices do not work so well for us. And most importantly: We have the freedom to choose being kind and gentle with ourselves and others.”
Do you have programmes of “not good enough” that limit you in some way? Have you ever managed to step beyond such a pattern? Would you like to share your insights, here?