"I've been caught between being TOO MUCH and NOT ENOUGH my entire life."
This is a statement I made in a blog from January titled, "On The Outside Looking In", which I wrote on the subject of connection and belonging.
I promised I would come back around to this subject and unpack it for you, so that's what we're gonna do today.
In sharing some important discoveries I've made about myself, I hope it will help connect some dots for you about your own journey to find true belonging and healthy connection.
It feels like my whole life has been a quest for friends...lots of them...with a deep yearning that among them I'd find that dearly, beloved best friend.
As I mentioned in "Outside Looking In", it's been my longest standing desire in life...dating all the way back to kindergarden.
In the area of friend-making or keeping, it's so hard to get it right...it has been for me anyway.
There are so many uncontrollable variables, namely everything about the other people involved, which makes relationship building risky business at times.
In the history of my friendship failures and losses, more often than not, I've been left feeling either one of 2 ways -- TOO MUCH or NOT ENOUGH.
Which kinda reminds me of that old saying, "I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place."
It's a scary thing to keep putting your heart out there.
However, there's some people that just make it look so easy, like people just flock to them.
I don't get it?
Which is why I've also envied this one thing in other people -- having, making or keeping lots of friends -- more than I have any other single enviable thing on the planet.
I've been more jealous of people for the number of friends they have, than I ever have their money, status, looks or stuff.
Ya know...all those things in the lives of gorgeous, rich and famous people that you love to hate...It's what we humans do.
I'd never realized until I began studying connection and belonging, that the number of friends you have is actually seen as a status symbol, maybe even more so than those other things mentioned up there.
Those things up there are what's to help you win friends, so yeah, it is a bigger deal.
It's sad but so...the number of friends we have is a symbol of how well liked and loved we are.
And it's a little scary to think we use it to determine whether we're worth belonging on the planet or not.
In our modern, electronic age, we have our faithful social media sights with those lovely, little, well-thought-up numbers on our pages to reveal our daily value ratings.
We can, whenever we want and as often as we want, at a click of a button remind ourselves of how worthy we are OR NOT, and find out how loved we are OR NOT, by simply checking our numbers at a click of a button.
It's so simple and easy, and the greatest thing is that we don't even freakin' have to know the people, because it's all about the numbers!
The number of likes we have on our posts, or the number of new friends or followers we have is what we use to score our loveableness or our valuelessness, however you choose to look at it.
Just like that. Click. Glance. Done.
Can you believe we've come so far...in a sick and twisted kinda way?
Here's how we had to work it back in the "olden days"...
When I was a 20-something, back in the late 80's, I was going after the numbers, if it caused my fingers to fall off. I used to keep in touch with so many people, y'all. I couldn't stand the thought of losing contact with anyone, I mean anyone, I knew. Of course, this started when I left home for college. Then, left college to begin a career job. Left the job to go to graduate school. Left graduate school to get married. Then moved across the country again for my husband's job...
The list kept growing. It started to become a real challenge to keep up with all these people! Back then, the way you kept in touch with all your friends was to write this super impressive Christmas update letter, that included all your accomplishments for the year. And if you didn't do anything to be proud of since the last letter, you stretched the truth a little or just made crap up.
Oh, my gosh! I think I spent all year just thinking up what I wanted the theme of my letter to be and hunting for the perfect stationary for it. I think my Christmas card list got up to 350 people from all the place's I had lived, worked or gone to school! And my Christmas letter got longer and longer after each child (I had 4). Because it was typical to also write a half-page paragraph to include all your children's accomplishment's too. And enclosed with this letter was the sure-to-rock-their-socks-off perrrrrrrrrfect family photo.
I couldn't wait for everyone's Christmas letters to arrive! I would sit in the floor and read them and count them all. Back then, we thought up cute ways to display our Christmas cards all around our house for the holidays. Then when Christmas was over, we'd save all the pictures and collage them on our refrigerator somehow with magnets, tape or in magnetic frames, if you wanted to get fancy.
I'm telling you, people! This was the status symbol back in the day! The more Christmas pictures you had on your refrigerator, the more "popular" you were. Seriously! You were a real somebody, if you couldn't even see your refrigerator for all the pictures!
Well, Christmas cards and photos are almost a thing of the past these days, as social media has pretty much all but taken the place of paper communication.
I hardly get any cards anymore at Christmas and my numbers have dropped significantly to around 75 for the picture cards that I personally send out.
BTW...I know it's a little late to be talking about Christmas...I totally had this blog planned to go out in January right after "Outside Looking In", but got derailed with our basement build-out project for a couple months. Anyway...
The perfect picture taking thing, and busting our butts to paint the perfect picture of our lives with words, to all those who might be watching, has only increased with the rise of social media becoming our main mode of communication.
The grandest goal of today's media driven society has become to finally get enough followers to feel we belong and enough likes to feel loved.
There is something way wrong with this people!
It's sick and twisted, that there's actually a new diagnosis in the DSM-5 called Social Media Depression!
Folks (mostly teens and young adults) are becoming depressed because the images on social media sights portray perfect looks and perfect lives that simply cannot be lived up to by the average human being...a fame that their boring little lives will never know.
Being normal or average has become the new boring and being famous has become the new thing every kid wants to be when they grow up.
It's crazy y'all, and I could totally go off on a tangent about it right here, but I've already written an entire blog about, so if you wanna go back and read it, it's titled "Shame Loves Social Media".
The reason I'm bringing it back up here is to make the point that the belief attached to being boringly average has become -- normal people don't matter, because they are NOT ENOUGH.
Living with this belief is exhausting, because it drives lifestyles of performance, pretense, pleasing and perfection -- what I've referred to as the 4 P's in previous blogs.
The 4 P's perpetuate a lifestyle of hiding -- hiding all the imperfections, flaws and darkness that we believe would keep us from love and belonging.
This turns our lives into vicious cycles of armoring up every morning so we won't be seen, hustling all day for worthiness and numbing out every night to forget our pitiful existence.
Lifestyles of hustling and hiding to avoid rejection cultivate shame.
Then the pendulum swings to the other side...
People are also rejected for acting confident and being successful, for coming off as TOO MUCH.
Isn't this list just ridiculous!?!
I believe this is a subject that needs more attention.
In all my research on the subject of belonging and connection, I did not see much about being TOO MUCH, but yet it's a thing.
It's a huge thing that privileged, successful, seemingly have-it-all kind of people have to deal with and are supposed to tolerate from below average or under-privileged people.
These kinds of folks are targets of envy & jealousy and downright hatred.
Privileged people can get used by others who want what they have, or are outcasted for making everyone else feel bad about themselves.
Privileged people also typically have serious trust issues and spend a great deal of energy trying to dumb down who they are just so others will like them and feel comfortable around them.
Lifestyles of the dumbed down and outcasted also reek with shame.
Feeling TOO MUCH or NOT ENOUGH are flip-sides of the same coin.
Both cause disconnection, which is the opposite of what we're going for here, right?
I have experienced both at different periods of my life and in different environments before I began living in my brave identity.
I've learned I came across as "Too Much" when I was feeling the need to impress people to get them to like me.
What I mean by TOO MUCH is that I might say way too much, tell really impressive stories about myself, one-up other's stories or even inflate the truth, pouring on the flattery.
Or I might go to the opposite extreme of that by dumbing down who I am, so that others don't feel intimidated or insecure around me, and not want to be my friend.
I also learned that when my extreme act wasn't getting the results I was hoping for, I would feel "Not Enough."
What I mean by NOT ENOUGH is that when I have feel insecure, I can be really mousy and act pitiful to get attention, or even worse tell pathetic stories to coax people to feel sorry for me.
Or I can even make up stories that I think people want to hear to either impress them to fit in or make them laugh so they will want me around.
All this, lies and extreme measures, just so that people will like and want to be my friend.
Ugh...I'm grossing myself out just writing it!
So, what's my point, other than swinging on this pendulum really sucks?
Well, as gross as it may sound and as much as we hate to admit it, we've all at one time...
for the sake of feeling loved, connected and that we belong.
But it doesn't have to be like this, and it's not supposed to be.
Those who have the courage to believe it's o.k. to be IMPERFECT are those who have a strong sense of love and belonging.
The solution to believing "I AM ENOUGH" lies in embracing our imperfections and seeing them as gifts.
Embracing the gifts of our imperfection looks like letting go of who you think you're supposed to be and courageously embracing who you really are.
When you embrace who you were born to be and begin to live in your true identity, you will never again dumb down who you are and feel like "I'M JUST TOO MUCH".
Perfection can't survive in the face of a brave identity.
In closing with that strong truth, I hope I helped you connect some dots today and feel inspired to start down the path of letting go of perfectionism and embracing your true identity.
The world needs you to brave who you were born to be, not a perfectly pleasing performance.
I'll wrap our time up together today with this quote from my favorite researcher, author and Texas gal, Brene' Brown...
“Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it's often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.”
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