I’m worried about you, and you’re too important to me to not say something. I know your dreams mean everything to you. It could be a dream job, getting into a certain university, a job title, doesn’t matter. I suspect in some ways seeing this dream silences some inner fears and insecurities you have; since if you can accomplish this dream all the “am I smart enough” or “am I good enough” or “am I worth love” doubts are proven wrong.
But that is the problem. You’re running away from your fears, not towards your goal. This is not safe and I am terrified for you.
I’m terrified because you’ve put conditions on when you’ll start enjoying life or when you’ll respect yourself or when you’ll be good enough. I’m terrified because you’ve attached your self image to this goal, and almost all goals like these are outside of our control. I’m terrified because if forces outside of our control tear this goal to shreds I think it will destroy you. I’m terrified because you’re one of the most hard working, intelligent, pure hearted, amazing people I know – and you’re letting complete strangers who don’t even know you decide if you should love yourself or not.
I love your dreams and I believe in you. I know all the good you can do for the world and I have no doubt about what you can do. But that’s not how you see it. You see it as “either I achieve my goal and I’m good enough or I’m a failure.” I know because I was exactly the same way. I had so much inner pain and insecurity and misery that I looked towards outward accomplishments to prove that I was worth something. I tried to run from my pain and begged the world for permission to love myself.
That doesn’t work and it almost killed me. I ground my bones into dust working for my goal. I worked so hard for so many hours and I guilt tripped myself and felt horrible when I wasn’t obsessively working. I turned down so many chances to enjoy life and connect with people and make memories. My dream job was my one path to feeling like I was good enough. I sacrificed so much of the here and now trying to earn approval and title and prestige. Since I couldn’t love myself I slaved away looking for someone to give me self worth. Spoiler alert: I didn’t get the job.
It’s absolute hell. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever done. Not only does it burn your candle at both ends, it is staking everything you have on things you can’t control. It shortsells who you are and compromises the best parts of you (you’re trying to earn someone else’s approval, so jumping the hoops they want you to jump matters more than being the person you were born to be).
I’m not saying this because I don’t want you to chase your dreams. I’m not saying your dreams are bad or that I don’t think you can accomplish them.
I’m saying there is no dream worth chasing that makes you hate yourself.
I’m saying any dream that constantly makes you feel like you’re not good enough is not the right dream to chase (or you’re chasing it for the wrong reasons).
I’m saying that you are amazing and talented and creative and you have so much to offer. There is no one on this planet like you and there’s a trillion ways that you and only you can make the world a better place. There’s 7 billion people on this planet who could benefit from you being here and if any part of your dream tells you you’re not good enough then that dream is dead wrong.
I know you feel pain. I know you’ve been through hell. I know that you have fought so hard to build a path that proves what you’re worth and lets you change the world the way you know you can. I also know that your life is too valuable to spend chasing a dream that isn’t treating you right. I also know that there are too many people who need your help right now…people who are waiting for you to choose helping them over running from your fears.
There is no one on this planet like you. There are so many people in pain who you could save. There’s so much agony and dysfunction in the world that your unique background and personality could make all the difference. Stop pretending that there’s only one way for you to change the world. Stop pretending that one test or one career defines who you are. Stop putting the onus on an old dream to tell you what you’re worth. We have to accept who we are and define ourselves based on things we can control. Chase any dream you want but don’t you dare let things you can’t control decide what you’re worth. Don’t you dare let something you can’t control make you feel worthless or not good enough. Don’t you dare feel like anything less than the universe’s most beautiful miracle. That’s what you are.
This is your permission slip to change. This is a blank check to pivot to whatever path you see a clear path that you could help people and enjoy life. It doesn’t make you a failure to change direction, it means you’re learning what doesn’t work and getting closer to what does. You’re acting like you have to check certain boxes to both help people and feel good about yourself. It’s bullshit.
Stop tearing yourself apart because the definition of self worth you picked is out of reach right now. Stop waiting to accept who you are and love yourself because you haven’t proven yourself yet. And if you believe in your heart that an old dream is right for you then for God’s sake don’t make it a precondition for accepting who you are.
That dream has a picture of a better you but
DON’T YOU DARE say who you are today isn’t good enough.
DON’T YOU DARE say who you are today isn’t worth love.
DON’T YOU DARE say who you are today is broken or worthless or incomplete.
Who you are today is a priceless, irreplaceable, mission critical of the path to your dream. Your dream starts today and it starts with accepting who you are right now. That’s the only way you can make it all the way to the top of your mountain, and I want you to get there more than anything. You’ll never make it to the top if you keep tearing yourself to pieces.
Life doesn’t start when you reach your goals. Life is happening right now. And you don’t need anyone’s approval to enjoy it or accept who you are.
Further Reading: If this post resonated with you then you would really benefit from Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. A huge part of our lives are directed by emotions we’re not even aware of. This book was instrumental in me learning to become aware of my emotions through mindfulness, accept them without fighting them, and then address root causes and make better decisions than I could with blind emotions. Our feelings are incredibly useful guides, but if you spend too much time running from pain or fear or insecurity unconsciously then you’ll look around and realize you were never running to somewhere you actually wanted to go.