When I was in my early twenties, I was a hot mess. In an attempt to tame my self-destructive tendencies, I read a lot of SARK! books (look her up; she is lovely). A friend had given me a copy of Eat Mangoes Naked and I loved it immediately. Colorful, succinct, playful, it is essentially a book of affirmations and quirky illustrations to remind us all how wonderful we are.
One resonating line from the text I remember is the phrase: you are enough.
In all ways, I believe this is true. At the very burning, volcanic diamond-centers of ourselves, we are complete. Enough. Multiversal. I do, however, have trouble reconciling this truth with my inherent impulse to try and improve myself constantly.
The mental impulse is endless. Travel more. Read more books. Journal. Exercise. Learn a new language. Eat healthfully. Do yoga. Take more supplements. Write more poetry. Go to therapy. Try reiki.
Antithetical to its purpose, my impulse for self improvement can be (cough) compulsive at times. Don't get me wrong, it can also be fulfilling and restorative, but even in my quest to be better I try to be perfect at being better.
So in between my morning journals, squats while brushing my teeth, mantras when I get out of bed, when I end up feeling sad or self-pitying or defeated or all the other human things that are useful and inevitable, I feel like failure. You didn't do enough yoga. You didn't use your cognitive behavioral therapy techniques. What about tapping? Why didn't that work?
In all this well-meaning nonsense is the sweet spot, the spot we all strive for in a reasonable, attainable way in our daily lives. But if we are already enough, isn’t all this self-restoration just a bonus? Just the dessert? All we really need to do is take SARK’s advice and recognize that being enough doesn't mean once you do yoga or when you've picked up meditation.
Enough means enough on both good days and bad, in both our strengths and our vulnerabilities.
Whether I’ve spent the day meditating or crying into my second waffle sundae (waffle sundaes have happened more than once), I know this: we are all soft, rippable paper souls that can be carried away by wind and melt in the rain. We hurt and tear and attempt to mend ourselves with paste and tape; we laugh despite being put back together like a smiling Frankenstein monster.
And yet somehow, at the same time, we are warriors in armor with titanium hearts; we breathe the fire and energy of continents and centuries and universes. We are fragile and unbreakable, made of both popsicle sticks and steel. But most of all, what we need is to recognize this in each other.
With or without mantras and squats, organic vegetables and acupuncture, we are still and always enough.
About Kelly Nichols
Kelly Nichols is a high school English teacher and a poet since she first read Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic sometime in the late 80s. She earned an MFA in poetry from The New School in New York City and realized that teaching poetry is just as fun as writing it. Outside the classroom she is passionate about health and wellness, and relies on CrossFit for a constant challenge. Her school-year weekends look like books and wine and cozy things, while she uses summertime for getting out of the country and chasing adventures.