Not good enough? You are more than enough
I laid in bed, my eyes wide open. My body was terribly tired and longed to rest, but I couldn’t sleep. My mind raced in multiple directions at what seemed like 100 mph. Recurring thoughts zoomed and zapped through the synapses of my mind like rapid fire.
And then it hit. Just like that.
Waves upon waves of negative accusations:
You’re not good enough.
Why would anyone work with you?
Who do you think you are?
You’ll never make it.
So what if you had success once? What about now?
What have you accomplished?
Why would anyone hire you?
What have you got to offer?
Unreasonable fear gripped my heart. I clutched my chest and curled up in a fetal position, liquids oozing from every pore - tears pouring from my eyes, sweat beads breaking forth from my body. I sobbed and sobbed, my heart palpitated wildly.
I put my hands on my head to stop the accusations within. They wouldn’t be caught or go away. They persisted, an overwhelming tirade intent on drowning me.
Up till that point I have not heard of the word, much less understood what it was, but when it hit me, I knew exactly what it was.
How is it that when I never knew it existed, yet when it happened, I could immediately give it an accurate label?
Later on I researched and found that panic attacks are described as coming on suddenly and involving intense and often overwhelming fear. They are accompanied by frightening physical symptoms such as a racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, or nausea. That was exactly what I experienced.
How did I get to this stage? How did I come to be so overwhelmed with negativity and fear?
Upon reflection, it became clear to me that a myriad of factors led me down a slippery path to the bottom of a dark well.
My value as a person comes from my constant achievement and production of work.
I represented my school in sports since I was 11.
Academically, I always came in top percentile in class.
My essays were frequently handpicked for its interesting prose and read out loud to the whole class.
I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree with Distinction.
I had a reputable career in law.
I raced marathons, triathlons, Ironman triathlons between 2010 and 2013.
I cycled across America in 2014 and released a documentary the same year.
I knew I wanted to be an author since I was five, and in 2016, my dream came true. I published a book and went on a small speaking circuit promoting my book.
I cycled around Ireland in 2016 and cut a short film which I never released to the public because I didn’t deem it good enough.
And then I stopped being producing. I’d write blog articles, sometimes weekly, sometimes monthly, but I wasn’t doing anything remarkable anymore.
By remarkable I mean pursuing huge projects or adventures as cycling across America was, or cycling around the world could be.
I’ve often been chided by friends who care about me to not base my personal worth on my accomplishments, but to rejoice and celebrate what I already have. While I appreciate their concern, I don’t know if I’d agree with being contented with one accomplishment - shouldn’t life be about constant progress? And if life is a journey of constant progress, shouldn’t I feel uncomfortable about not living out my best self? Because I know my best self is capable of so much more each and every day. I am better, stronger, more capable today than I was yesterday. If my belief of my capability is true, and if I’m not producing work that are better, bigger and outstanding, then I haven’t been a good steward of all I have been kindly and generously bestowed with by my Master Creator, and I have squandered my time, skills and talents away.
To some of you this might seem like a constantly demanding and stressful way to live, but to me this is the only way to live. I live not just to cruise by life in comfort - I live desiring to walk out everyday in my best God-given abilities.
I know, I know, you’d say, precisely why you had a panic attack, Angie - because you are too ambitious and high strung! You need to relax.
No, upon further reflection, I now know what the real cause of my panic attack was, and what I can do to prevent it from happening in the future, while at the same time living out my best life.
My panic attack stemmed from my looking outwardly to others for validation:
Look, this is what I’ve done. Is it good? Do you like it?
Look, what a wonderful life I have.
Look, I am so versatile and capable. I can do so many different things!
Seeking to please others or to compare myself with others is not the way to live. I simply want to do what I’m called to do. I’m fortunate to know exactly what I’m called to do - which is to write, and how do I know it? Because the following four factors confirm so:
What am I naturally drawn to?
What do I love doing? What do I enjoy doing that even if I was not paid, I’d do it regardless?
Writing. I write all the time, anywhere and everywhere. Every other hour of the day. I’d have a thought and write it down. I’d see something and write it down.
What do I feel a strong impulse to do?
What is it that if I don’t do, I’d feel a tug in my heart to get it done?
What comes easy for me that doesn’t come as easily for others?
What is that one skill I have that others would pay me for?
And this is how you discover your calling - by narrowing down that one skill or field which fulfills all of these four factors.
Stop looking to others for validation. Be your best self. You are more than enough.