what do when you feel like you're not enough

First, take a breath. Breathe. Make yourself comfy. Put on some sweats, get yourself a bowl of something yummy, a cup of tea or cocoa (or wine, let's be honest), and breathe.

Okay. Still with me? Good. Now, breathe again. Take a big, deep breath.

Alright. The first thing I want you to know is that I understand how you feel. I understand the coming home from class and crying immediately after closing the door behind you. I understand the constant worrying that your friends would rather hang out without you. I understand the immense fear that someone might be mad at you. I understand feeling like there's so much you should be doing right now, but not even knowing where to start. More than anything else, I understand feeling like you never know whether or not you're ready - ready for an exam, ready for the next stage of your life, or ready to go to sleep. I know what you're feeling. I understand, because I've been there.

My biggest struggle in life generally is that even if I really do know what I'm talking about, and even if I'm really well-prepared for something, I doubt myself and I psych myself out. If it's a competitive situation, like vying for a position at work, school, etc., sometimes I even act overly humble, which then gives others an advantage they don't deserve. A lot of this lack of confidence is based in the irrational fear that I'm not enough, that I don't deserve to be where I am, that I've somehow cheated my way into the accomplishments I've conquered. Sound familiar? This is a little thing called Imposter Syndrome. Essentially, if you feel like a fraud in your life situation, whether it be school, work, friends, or whatever it may be, you might be dealing with this too. Of course, everyone experiences this differently, and the article above does a really great job explaining it.

When I was in college, I faced a few disappointments regarding not being chosen for positions I wanted. No matter how prepared I knew I was, I always panicked so much that I did myself a massive disservice. Eventually, I decided that enough was enough. A wonderful professor of mine once told me, "Alright, so, you know you're enough. You need to make us believe it, but most importantly, you need to make yourself believe it." That really stuck with me. I knew that I needed to do more to push through my nerves and showcase my best, but it hadn't truly occurred to me that that can only be done by looking inward first. Now, a lot of that came from the massive internal need to be liked/please everyone. Now, that's not a vanity thing - it's really just the (basic, normal, human) need to feel like you belong - like you've actually earned the things you've accomplished, and like your talents and skills are recognized. It's not something to feel bad about.

However, it is something that is massively hard to get over. It's taken me years and years of practice and active thought, but here's what I've learned: Even if there are people who might not be your biggest fan, that's okay. It really, really, really, really is. That same professor I spoke of earlier helped me realize this: once you allow yourself to be comfortable with the fact that it's impossible to please everyone, it actually becomes easier to make more people happy.

To be clear, I am not saying that you should value other peoples' happiness over your own, but if you're in a situation in which it would benefit you to appeal to as many as possible (applying for a job, running for a position, etc.), I promise you that you'll feel so much more confident if you try less to appeal to more people.

It takes so much pressure off, and it allows you to meet your own priorities first.

I would implore you, if you feel at all like an imposter, to remind yourself of this daily. Even hourly. Put sticky notes with it on your mirror. Write it as a note in your phone. Get it tattooed, even. Whatever you need to do to know it fully, absolutely, and always.

Now, as you move forward and graduate, I won't lie to you - things don't get easier. Whether you're continuing in your education, getting a job, traveling the world, starting a family, or are still figuring out what to do next, you need to know that you are enough. It's a tough world out there, and society can take a real toll on our mental health. But your greatest weapon is your own self-confidence. You are enough. You always were and you always will be. From a post-grad still learning herself, this knowledge has carried me through so much since college. Let's keep each other accountable, and keep each other gentle with ourselves. We are all enough.

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