Elizabeth Gilbert recently wrote an article describing how all the women she knows–powerful, successful, talented women–are riddled with anxiety and fear because they feel they aren’t doing enough with their lives. She wrote that they are “stressing themselves sick” while on a “mad quest for perfection.” Gilbert confessed that even though she has written five books, one of which is an international best-seller, she still second-guesses herself and wonders if she’s gone about it all wrong.
It broke my heart to read her words, just as it breaks my heart to watch all the smart, funny, wise, creative, kind, intuitive women I know be chased all day long by doubt and insecurity. I want to cup their faces in my hands and say, “You are enough. You don’t have to do all this. You give plenty to the world just being who you are.” I imagine them replying, with tears in their eyes, “Really? Is it true? I would so like to be enough.”
Perhaps I want to have this conversation with the women I love because it is a conversation I would like someone to have with me. I want to stop being chased by the fear of inadequacy toward some unknown, and I am beginning to think, unobtainable goal. I want to pause now and then without feeling like I’m going to fall behind. I want my mother to stop emailing me imploring me to slow down.
This past fall, my oldest daughter who shadows me so closely it frightens me, told me with weary resignation, “I will never do everything as perfectly as you.” As my heart contracted with pain for her and for me, my mind whirled with the thought, “What have I done? What have I done?” I don’t want my daughters to, as Gilbert writes, “twitch with near-constant doubt, somehow worrying that they are failing at life.”
So this is my New Year’s wish for my daughters, for myself, for all the brilliant and amazing women I love and the women they love: I want you all to know that you are enough.
I say to Emma, Clara, Mary H., Ardyth, Cody, Jenny, Corrie Kate, Haven, Psalm, Gabi, Jillene, Autumn, Natasha, Emry, Delaney, Carrie, Tawni, Kelly, Lyn, Hannah, Andrea, Jara, Lexi, Barbara, Susan, Ivy, Mary D., Olivia, Diane, Katie, Kim, Rachel, Lindsey, Kris, Annie, Nancy S., and all the other women out there: You can stop. Take a breath, slow your pace, sit awhile. You don’t have to do everything. You only need to be whatever is uniquely easy for you. And that is enough.
It is a strange concept for most of us, but I ask you to try it on. Embrace the idea of being enough just as you are. Practice doing less and being more. For your own sake, and for the young women who are coming up fast behind us.
We are all enough just as we are. Do less, be more.
Pass it on.