I remember skiing with some friends a few years back. These friends are excellent skiers who hit the slopes 20 or 25 times a year. Until a few years ago I was fortunate to get up once or twice.
One of them had a GoPro camera and loved to record himself swooshing down the steepest and toughest terrain on the mountain. He was a great skier. On one trip down, he hollered up the mountain that he was turning the camera on me. I suddenly felt self-conscious as I started down a large track of moguls. I took an easy way down and even curved around some trees so he couldn’t get a good shot of me.
When I came to a stop he asked me why I’d taken the easy way. I told him I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of his youtube followers, many of whom knew me as well. “It’s okay to make mistakes and look imperfect,” he said. “In fact, people love it. It helps them feel better about themselves and gives them permission to be less than perfect.”
Whoa! I realized he was right. Do I have to ski perfectly to feel like I’m enough? Do I have to hide my imperfections or pretend to be more than I am to feel okay? How liberating to come straight down the mountain as an expression of my enjoyment of the day and love of skiing, unconcerned about how I look and what others might think.
We put way too much on comparing and measuring which causes us to live from a scarcity mindset in which what we are and do is never quite good enough. This creates incredible stress and keeps us from loving life.
The truth is that life is not perfect and you and I are not perfect. I love a quote from Alice Walker. “In nature nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted and bent in weird ways and they are still beautiful.”
It doesn’t work, in nature, to compare today’s sunset against a sunset in the past. All we can do is enjoy the sunset of today.
Likewise, it doesn’t work to compare ourselves against someone else or some standard that is not real, for at least two reasons. First, you didn’t create yourself. Give God that credit. You didn’t design your physical stature and traits. You didn’t determine your IQ, strengths and weaknesses, or even most basic personality traits. You were born with them.
Second, you literally could not be any different than you are at this moment in time. You can’t go back ten years and make different choices. Heck, you can’t go back ten minutes and choose differently. You are what and where you are at this moment in time, the only moment that is real.
This is not to say your life is predetermined. You do have the ability to make choices and alter the course of your life. It’s just a lot easier to make those choices as an expression of what you want rather than some need to measure, compare, and prove yourself enough.
The truth is, you can always build a case and find plenty of evidence that you are “not enough.” It seems to be our default strategy. But it is not an empowering strategy nor one that brings joy. A better way to live is to humbly acknowledge your imperfections and yet live courageously from the personal decision that you are enough.
What do you think?