I don’t know about you, but I’m never quite enough. I’ve never done quite as much as I’d like. The end products are never quite as perfect as I originally pictured them in my mind. I’m never fully satisfied with myself.
I am – as most of us are – my own worst critic.
That’s because I’m usually comparing myself to other people: more daring people, more successful people, more confident people. And because I worry incessantly about what other people will think. (Maybe you do, too?)
But one day a year or so ago, I did something that made me look at myself with new eyes. I considered what 18-yo Autumn would think about 42-yo Autumn. I realized with a thrill that my teen self would be flipping out about where I am right now. I imagine the dialogue might look something like this:
18-yo old me: You wrote a novel?!?!?!? And you live on a boat?!?!?!? Are. You. Serious. Right. Now.
42-yo me: I KNOW RIGHT?!?!?!?!
And as I went back down the line to check in with all of the earlier iterations of Autumn, I realized that from their perspectives, I’m not too shabby either.
8-yo old me: Are you telling me you get to do what you want to do and play outside whenever you feel like it?!?!?!? Shut up!!!!
28-yo me: Seriously? You work for yourself? OMG. When does that happen? Please tell me it’s soon.
So here’s the thing: that wouldn’t always have been the case. If 8-yo old Autumn had been in touch with 28-yo old Autumn, she’d have been a little depressed. I spent way too much time in cubicles and dingy bars. And 18-yo old Autumn would’ve been thoroughly disgusted by 34-yo Autumn, living back in a small town, pinching my self in to feel like I belonged.
But checking in during those times might still have been a good idea. I might have realized sooner that I wasn’t becoming the person I wanted to be. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, and I wouldn’t really change the rotten years because who I am today is an emergent property of all those other Autumns who came before me.
I try to remember that now when I feel not enough. I may not be as much as I’d like to be, but I’m more than I’ve ever been before. And I’ll be even more tomorrow.