What if deep down inside we are all really okay?
What if those insecurities we feel are bigger to us than to everyone else? What if those faults that keep knocking us down day after day after day really aren’t what define us?
What if a bigger house or more money or thinner thighs or a new town or more education or a better job really wouldn’t make us better because we are already as good as we need to be?
I’ve spent a lot of my life around young adults — 18-23 year olds. Before I had the kids, I spent most of my time with these bigger kids teaching them to write. Most of them came from less than advantaged backgrounds but were trying to make the best of their situations. I loved my job, and I loved these kids. I loved the grit and the determination and the vulnerability. I loved seeing the joy in their eyes when they succeeded, and even more, I loved helping wipe the doubt from their eyes as they began to realize that they could really do what they never thought they could.
These were my kids, and I was fiercely defensive of them and their abilities.
Every now and again, a special kid would come around. A kid who didn’t seem so scattered. A kid who didn’t look to others. A kid who seemed centered around his or her life rather than looking towards others. A kid who you knew would make it. Regardless of the odds, regardless of their situation, they were going to come out just fine.
For years, I would look at these kids and wonder what their secrets were. How were they able to maintain a center in this crazy world while all the kids around them were falling into alcohol and drugs and teenage pregnancy?
Back then, I was never able to find an answer. But these days, slowly, I’m starting to understand. These kids were going to be okay because they knew they were okay. At some deep, visceral level, they believed in their worth. They weren’t seeking release or acceptance or reassurance because they already owned it within themselves.
These kids have always been important to me because now I have my own girls, and one day they will be young adults, and they will veer towards one direction or the other, and I would like to help them towards the light.
And the more I think about this, the more I think about how I can instill that sense of being enough in my girls, I realize that most of us adults don’t have it. We hide it better than teens; I think we have come to terms with much of it, but how many of us still struggle with being enough?
If we stripped away all we hide behind — alcohol or drugs or food or cigarettes or sex or clothes or fancy cars or perfect houses or control or perfectionism — if we stripped all of that away, what would we find? Would we find a core that was okay or would we find a wounded soul looking for validation and hiding behind all of this crap when we cannot find it within ourselves?
What if we are all okay? What if you are okay and I am okay? What if our weaknesses and faults are a part of who we are? What if they are areas for improvement but not for shame? What if our strengths, magnificent though they may be, really can’t make us any more worthy because that worth is something we were born with, independent of absolutely anything that may occur to us or because of us in this life?
What if all of this other stuff isn’t necessary? The living up to and the overcoming and the excelling and the hiding and the squelching and the burying?
What if you are totally and completely and perfectly okay?
I once saw a therapist who kept saying that. “You are okay.”
I would always look away. It felt wrong. It felt like words that were too big for me. He said one day he hoped I would believe it.
What if that day could be today?
You are okay. Say it to yourself. Try it on. See how it fits.
This post originally appeared on my here.