by Kimberly Crossland

It seems like there’s a recurring theme in a lot of people’s lives—the theme of never feeling like enough. Not a present enough parent. Not a productive enough employee. Not a healthy enough cook. Not spic and span enough around the house. Not strong enough. Not fast enough. Not enough.

And yet, there’s an equally common recurring theme of overwhelm. My nose has been buried in a new book called, Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has Time. In it, the author outlines what the “ideal” worker looks like. To summarize, they stay late on a regular basis, are freed from all home duties, relocate at a whim, and rarely calls in sick or takes a vacation. This description is obviously a stereotype, but it’s reflective of a commonly held belief that if we aren’t everything, we aren’t perfect. Or, as the author says, “We are programmed to emulate (the ideal worker) at all costs, or at least feel the sting of not measuring up.”

There again is the theme of not being enough. While soaking this all in, realizing how true the concept is that we feel a sting of not measuring up when we fail to fit the ideal mold of anything in our life—worker, parent, or otherwise—I stumbled on a video. It opened up on a mom opening the front door for her husband coming home from work looking frazzled and exhausted. The daughter ran out to greet her daddy. As the husband kissed his wife hello, he asked how her day was. She replied with, a quip about it being the same as always.

Fast forward to the next scene. The dad is tucking his daughter in bed and asked how her day was. The mom overhears her daughter recount all of their adventures with enthusiasm and delight.

We, as overwhelmed people who don’t give ourselves enough credit, are so caught up in trying to please everyone that we often fail to notice just how much we’re contributing to the world around us. We go about our day, checking items off our to do list, not realizing the breadcrumbs of joy, happiness, relief, and support we leave behind.

The next time you’re worried that you’re not enough, pause and remember this: You’re immensely valuable and you don’t have to pile on more to provide the world with the gifts you have to offer.

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Lucretia Free