More Than Enough
Today, I read the last page of Elaine Welterorth' memoir. I haven't read a full chaptered book in two years. I finished her memoir in three days. Funny, witty, sometimes a little cringe, but resoundingly loud. She's a year or two older than me and has achieved an insurmountable level of success. I didn't cry or anything, but my spirit sat on top of my chest, staring back at me like "so what's up then?"
While reading the first few chapters I found myself comparing myself to her. She's seemingly the opposite of everything I am. I couldn't help but think, "What if I was slim and light? Would I be successful? How come I'm not good enough?" which is pretty f*cking ironic considering the memoir titled is "More Than Enough". I missed the point and almost closed the book but I powered through and on the other side, I am so glad I did. Instead of feeling lesser, I felt seen.
I am winding down from an emotionally turbulent time in my life. I am 29 and I don't have the career I want. I am afraid of my own shadow and routinely ignore my own power. At one point I was barrelling through life, knocking everything down in sight. I was working three times harder than I needed to and I slammed full throttle into a brick wall. There is nothing like being told you are way off the mark and essentially, not good enough. I wrote a blog post called Reality Check and it was supposed to be a poetic, flowery ode to the beauty of being humbled. What a pile of *%@^^@%. Humble who?
It's easy to blame my crash and burn on everyone and their mama, but the truth is it's on me. I've spent most of my adult life, relying on external validation to give me a sense of purpose and value. It's put me in difficult situations time and time again and I didn't know any differently. Slamming into the proverbial brick wall hurt bad, real bad. I've never felt that crushed and I am grateful.
In Chapter 18, titled Lemonade (+10 points for the title are you kidding me) Elaine wrote these words "we all come up in a world that is set up to make us feel that we are not enough - so we strive even hard to earn respect, we put in overtime. we bend history, and we stretch ourselves thin to reach and exceed expectations of the powers that be. We rise to every occasion. We strive for excellence." She then goes on to say "when we achieve [it], we are often told we are "too much". "Threatening." "Intimidating." "Entitled." "Bossy." We are told we " we take up too much space in the room". We are asked to "tone it down". To "be grateful"."
Read that again.
These two or three paragraphs summed up what I (and many black women) feel on a day to day basis especially in white corporate structures. The last year has forced me to come to a place where I seek my validation before anyone elses. Like Elaine, I needed to learn how to become unbreakable. The way to that conclusion is different for all of us, but when it happens you'll know. For her, it was a relationship, for me it was a job. At the heart of her story is an underlying theme about being able to accept oneself before anyone else accepts you - that is the superpower. That's the whole jig.
When I first started this blog, I titled it "The Year of Forgiveness" (noice right? hire me) because it was about being unapologetically badass and doing what you want. It's still that but it's also about forgiving those around you, forgiving what you can't control, and most of all, forgiving yourself. The brick wall hurt because I had not given myself enough kindness to outweigh whatever whoever told me. When the pendulum came swinging, it swung me as far as it could, tossed me clear across Canada. I own the events leading up to that swing. I also own the responsibility to swing in other direction, to recognize my own power. I am whip smart, overly ambitious (a manager once told me that was a bad character trait 🥴), funny as hell, one hell of a doer and I am more than enough, no matter what anyone tells me.
Her memoir ends poetically but these are the lines that screamed at me from the page and words I hope that you, whoever you are, carry with you. I'll be carrying them with me from now on :
"Do not wait. Do not wonder if you can. Do not ask for permission. And when the world tells you to shrink, expand. Remember: You have done enough. You are enough. You were born enough.
The world is waiting on you."
Find More Than Enough on Amazon.