I think each and every one of us can recall a point in time where we thought we weren’t good enough. Not good enough to win the game, score that job, defend a cause, write a novel, or any dream out there. We’ve probably all said it or thought it at least once in our life: “I want to do this, but I’m not good enough.”
Honestly, I’ve been struggling with this a lot lately. I have an awesome new job: I’m a zookeeper who takes cares of hippos. I absolutely love it, but I’m afraid of messing up. I’m afraid of proving that I’m not good enough to take care of our animals and keep the location secure. I try my best each day, but I end up putting a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself. I’m still in the training phases–only been here a couple months–and I tell myself I should be better. Each day I go home, I think about the tiniest mistakes I made and I end up convincing myself that maybe I’m not good enough for this job? What if I make a terrible mistake? What must my coworkers think that I made a small slip up? That I’m not perfect? It’s terribly depressing.
But, you know what? I had a great conversation with a friend the other day, and when I mean “friend,” I actually mean a character from my novel. You see, I’m working on my latest draft. My main character goes through a trial where he really needs encouragement for. Low and behold, my main character’s internal struggle is one I face constantly: fearing he’s not good enough. This has been a section of the novel that I have been struggling with, because how do you encourage someone who doesn’t feel qualified? It’s all about opening their eyes to their potential and prowess, and some eyes are glued shut (I’m guilty as charged). You can say all the right things and they’ll still choose to believe the lies of their doubt. Sometimes, a character needs to achieve something to see their worth. They’ll stop some catastrophe or finish a quest, but what about a life or death situation where you only have a couple hours to give up or act?
When I write dialogue, I like to have conversations with my characters. I’ll stand in each of their shoes and see the conversation from their point of view. One is hopelessly fearing he isn’t good enough and the other wants to encourage him. So, when my hopeless hero finally admits his fears, how does the other respond? Usually, I have to really think about a response, but this one just came straight to my head and I, honestly, think it’s pretty good advice. When my main character says: “I’m supposed to be this, but…I’m not good enough.” This was the response he got:
“You know, there’s a funny thing about being good enough. If everyone was good enough to handle everything thrown at them, we wouldn’t need each other.”
That’s true, isn’t it? I mean, if I were good enough to handle everything with the hippos by myself, I wouldn’t need my coworkers. You can sit around worrying about being good enough, or you can trust in what you can do and trust in your friends, and you’ll see how far you can really go. A writer can’t publish a book without editors and allies in the industry. A sports player can’t win the game without his team. You shouldn’t strive to be good enough alone, but to grow with the help of others.
Now, I’m sure there’s many different interpretations to what my character said, but I believe the main message comes across nicely. To those of you who are struggling with self-doubt like me: don’t worry about being good enough. Just keep doing your best.