On Elizabeth Gilbert’s last podcast episode with Glennon Doyle Melton, they talked about the idea of “letting go of being good so you can be free”.
For most of my life, I rarely thought of myself as good enough - let alone great. Although I’ve never said this out loud (except to maybe a handful of people), I’ve always struggled with being an Asian American and it’s something I don’t talk about much.
There’s a lot of guilt there for me - that I haven’t done enough, that I didn’t do more, and that I’m not more. That I’m not further ahead and I don’t have an impressive LinkedIn account.
There’s a common stereotype that Asians get good grades and they end up becoming a doctor, lawyer, or end up doing something in finance. Well, none of those happened for me. I wanted to be an artist, but that didn’t quite pan out so well either (a story for another day). The good news? There’s still plenty of time left, and writing is a form of art too.
But I stopped getting good grades in 9th grade. Not because I started doing drugs or doing alcohol, but because I just couldn’t be bothered anymore. In fact, I spent most of my time reading - I thought, “Any story would be better than my own” and I read book after book because I was afraid to sit with my own thoughts for an extended amount of time.
And for the next few years of my life, my depression got worse and worse.
We don’t really talk about our emotions or feelings in my family. I’m sure many other families are like that, too. It’s scary to be vulnerable and sometimes even scarier with those closest to you.
But if you knew me, you’d know that I’m an emotional and sensitive person. I love having deep, heartfelt conversations with people about life. I love hearing people’s life stories and when people share their hearts with me - it’s an honor really. One of my friends and I ended up talking for almost 6 hours once. It was supposed to be a 1 hour conversation, and I think it was our second time talking. Oh, and I can cry like I’m Niagara Falls or something. Nowadays, I’m not ashamed to say I’m a sensitive person anymore and I now see it as a strength than a weakness - but it wasn’t always like that.
But back then, I didn’t talk it. To anyone.
Quite frankly, I was scared out of my mind to bring it up, so I thought it would be better to suffer quietly. Alone and in my room. Not a good combination.
I was scared others would think that “I was making a big deal out of nothing” and that my problems weren’t serious enough because you couldn’t see them. That my life wasn’t bad enough for me to “be sad”, but depression is more than just having a bad day or being sad for a few hours.
There was a general lack of excitement or interest for life - people, events, things, etc. About things I once cared about and got excited about. There would be weeks weeny appetite would completely disappear. I was still hungry, but eating felt like such a chore. It’s coming out of a grocery store and suddenly feeling like someone put 500 pounds on your feet and looking like an idiot probably because you’re standing there in the parking lot not moving. It’s waking up in the morning and physically not being able to move. It’s a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness that I wouldn’t wish on anyone - ever.
And it doesn’t discriminate by age, gender, race, social status, etc.
But I felt like in order to “be good” - I couldn’t tell anyone about what I was going through. I felt like I had already failed and disappointed people in so many ways and I didn’t want to add one more reason to the list.
Fast forward to today.
To be completely honest with you, I still don’t talk about this part of my life. I don’t like people to think I’m creating this excuse as to why I’m not further along by now, but I also know it’s not something to be ashamed about either.
But this year and all the years after this, I’m giving myself the gift of letting go of being good so I can be free.
Trying to be good enough for others and yourself (because we are our own worst critics) is exhausting - mentally, physically, and spiritually. And after 23 years, I’ve come to realize that there isn’t a “good enough”.
You will always want more, until you learn that who you are just as you are is enough.
We need to stop chasing the idea of good enough so that you can be free.
And if I end up disappointing someone, or if someone doesn’t think I’m good enough - well then, at least I get to be free. Free from their judgment and free from my own judgment.
This is the year I learn to let go of being good so I can finally be free.
Free to create, to love more, and to be myself. To be more abundant, alive, and to create the life that I want.
Share with me in the comments below.
Are you still holding onto to the idea of being “good enough”? How is it holding you back in your own life? What would letting go of being good so you can be free look like for you?
What does “being free” mean for you? What does it look like, and how does it feel?
P.S. You can get access to my resource library - full of really good writing prompts, like the one below to get you get your creativity juices flowing again!