A while back, I stumbled upon the beautiful Jennifer Pastiloff. It seemed every other post I saw was about her, her Manifest-Station site, or one of her writing/yoga retreats. I was drawn to her positivity, her exuberance, her spirit, and that gorgeous mane of hair. She published a couple of my incredibly personal pieces on her site — words I’ve never even shared here. (I know, I know. Can you believe there are still some things this over sharer hasn’t shared here??) But she felt like home, and my words felt safe. They still do. She is as kind and generous and genuine in her private communications as she is in her online life. She’s WYSIWYG. My favorite kind of human.
Because I’m so enamored with her and her message, I have every intention of attending one of her yoga retreats soon. Me. Yes. You read that correctly. Me, the anti-yoga girl. Me, who is more than a little bit uncomfortable with silence and introspection. Me, who would rather shoot a 3-pointer or drill someone with a dodge ball than try and contort this overweight mess of a body into something resembling a graceful and zen pose. Sweaty, uncoordinated, flailing me.
That’s how much I adore her.
Recently, she announced a retreat for young girls centered around the theme of “Girl Power: You Are Enough.” She put out a call for teenage answers to this question: Do you feel like you are enough? And she received and posted this response from a wise and wonderful 14-year-old girl — one who also happens to be near and dear to my heart.
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What qualifies someone as “being enough”? Is it their weight? Their mass? Their look? Their hobbies? Their interests? What even is being enough? Enough is a state of mind. Do you look in the mirror and see someone who is qualified to be enough for someone else? Or even just enough for yourself?
I don’t look in the mirror and feel worthy to be enough. I never have and I don’t know if I ever will. There are such few times when I feel “enough”. For example, a senior- let me rephrase that. The cutest, ultimate supreme, nicest, senior said he liked my dress. Three simple words made me feel like I was enough for anyone. For Johnny Depp. For Scarlett Johansson. For myself. Three simple words kept me on a good run until I stepped back on a scale. Until I took a glance at a mirror again. Another rare time was when a popular came up to me and said (I quote), “That outfit is literally fire. You’re gorgeous.” She noticed me. She noticed something other than my bitten nails and thick bones. She saw me and wasn’t appalled as I am when I see myself. I never thought I could ever feel that way.
But people can tell me I’m “not fat”. People can tell me I’m beautiful. People can tell me I’m enough. But people can also tell that I’m not. People can stare. People can glare. Doctors can yell about being overweight. Doctors can offer me a fat camp. Everyone can knock me down. Everyone can lift me up. Lifting me up is harder. It’s so much harder because I don’t know what to believe. I don’t know if what is true and what is lie. Lifting me up is harder because nails scratch at the gut of my self-esteem or what little there of. It hurts. It’s so painful. All that I can keep reminding myself is that pain is temporary. And so is life. So, keep holding on to whatever you have whether it be enough or not. just hold on. Because I can make it. You can make it. We can make it.
We just have to believe that we are enough.
Enough is a state of mind.
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If that doesn’t speak to the 14-year-old in each of us in some way, I’m not sure what does. It still speaks to the 45-year-old in me. The concept of enough is such a lifelong journey. I’ve had 31 more years of practice than this intuitive young girl, and I’m still learning. Every day, I get to learn a little more.
I get an infinite number of opportunities to remind myself that my worth is not measured by a scale or a reflection in a mirror or a careless remark or a marketing campaign’s image of who I should be. I have to remember that I am not defined by my jiggly thighs or my gray hair or my drooping eyelids or my thick middle. My worth is not in my weight, but in the measure of my heart. Things seen by the eye are far less important than those felt in our souls.
Love, kindness, gratitude, generosity > Money, things, clothes, pants size
I know these things. I understand them. And yet, worthiness is a struggle that stays. If it’s still an issue for me at 45, imagine that burden at 14, when cerebral cortexes are still forming and peer pressure is an anvil around a smooth-skinned neck. Imagine — or better yet, remember — the cacophony of voices saying, “No, don’t do that, do this. Don’t wear that, wear this. Don’t say that, say this. Don’t be that, be this.”
But our kids need to hear, “Yes. Be you. Beautiful you. Perfectly imperfect you. Go for it. Fall down. Turn your stumble into a dance. Get back to it. Lather, rinse, repeat. Again and again and again. The best people wear their scars like a beautiful coat of armor.”
Can they hear those messages if we — the adults they’re looking to for guidance — are still fumbling through the darkness of our own doubts?
I think they can if we turn down the noisy self-saboteurs. We are, so often, our own worst enemies. And when we speak badly of others, we’re really just mirroring something we see within ourselves, something that is just too challenging to face head-on.
All of us — from 14 to 45 and everywhere in between and around the edges — have to know know in our heads and in our hearts (mostly in our hearts — that’s where the magic happens) that we are exactly as we’re supposed to be. That the gifts we bring to the world are meant to be opened and shared and celebrated. That we are unique and beautiful and unlike anyone else. And that we’re made that way intentionally and for a purpose. That one-size-fits-all was never meant for us anyway. That fitting in means a fit that will never quite feel right… too tight in the shoulders, too short in the legs, too loose around the waist.
We need to sing like no one is listening… even when our daughters are secretly Snapchatting us.
And then dance like no one’s watching. Shake it off, baby.
We are enough.
You are enough.
I am enough.
Say it with me.