Women, Confidence And The Problem No One Is Talking About

Ever since I read an article in The Atlantic about The Confidence Gap between men and women, I haven’t been able to get it off my mind. Mostly, I think, because the article put words and research to something I’ve noticed take shape in my own life over the years: women (myself included) lacking the confidence men seem to have in droves.

Of course, this is a generalization. And of course my experience is limited.


But the research seems to support my observations: women are less likely to share their opinions in a group of people, more likely to apologize for things that aren’t their fault, less likely to take risks, more likely to take criticism personally and less likely to consider themselves competent in their work.

What is confidence?

There are many different ways to define the word confidence but I love the definition authors of the book The Confidence Code use:

Confidence is not, as we once believed, just feeling good about yourself. If women simply needed a few words of reassurance, they’d have commandeered the corner office long ago. Perhaps the clearest, and most useful, definition of confidence we came across was the one supplied by Richard Petty, a psychology professor at Ohio State University, who has spent decades focused on the subject. “Confidence,” he told us, “is the stuff that turns thoughts into action (Kay & Shipman, 2014).

Did you catch that? Confidence is the stuff that turns thought into action.

So the writers I work with on a daily basis (99% women) who are desperate for me to tell them their idea is a good one before they move ahead with it, or who are vying for the validation of a publishing contract before they begin to write their book—that’s a lack of self confidence. Or the woman I know who confided in me how terrified she was to speak up at a table full of men… that’s a confidence issue.

It’s one I can identify with strongly—but it’s a confidence issue nonetheless.

Confidence is the reason my friend who is a gifted dance instructor hasn’t yet tried to monetize what she does for a living, even though people are begging her to. She’s terrified to fail and afraid she’s “asking too much” by charging money for her skills. It’s the reason another friend, who is a successful businesses woman and mother underplays her skills and abilities—especially around men.

It’s the reason I have thought to myself, on more than one occasion, “How lucky am I to have found success in this area…” while the men I know think to themselves, “look at how hard I’ve worked to get where I am.”

Why are women lacking in confidence?

It would be difficult to have this conversation without talking about how culture has shaped the confidence of women. On the one hand, never before in the history of the world have women had so many opportunities open to them:

In the United States, women now earn more college and graduate degrees than men do. We make up half the workforce, and we are closing the gap in middle management. Half a dozen global studies, conducted by the likes of Goldman Sachs and Columbia University, have found that companies employing women in large numbers outperform their competitors on every measure of profitability. Our competence has never been more obvious. Those who closely follow society’s shifting values see the world moving in a female direction (Kay & Shipman, 2014).

And yet, we can’t ignore that, for decades (centuries) women have been taught to be silent, stay at home, remain uninformed, listen to their husbands, obey the rules, to play nice, and to take care of others at the expense of themselves. There is just no way this legacy wouldn’t make it difficult for a person—any person—to feel confident in their own sense of self-worth.

Not to mention, while women are certainly making progress in the work world, we are still the primary caretakers—not only of our children and husbands but of our extended families as well. I met a man recently who runs an assisted living facility and do you know who he said their primary marketing is directed toward?

The eldest son’s wife. She is the one coordinating care.

And while there is nothing wrong with women being caretakers, it does add a complicated layer to this whole confidence issue. It is virtually impossible for us to make decisions without considering the laundry list of possible impact—how might this be perceived, who might this offend, how my choices might impact the life of someone who is in my care.

Then of course, there is also advertising, which too often exploits women or attacks our self-confidence to get us to buy products we don’t need. Entire industries are built off of women feeling like they need plumper breasts or glossier lips or more beautiful teeth.

People are making money—lots of money—off of our lack of confidence.

But that isn’t even the most dangerous problem.

Yes, there are still cultures and communities all over the world where women are seen as second-class citizens. And yes, there are places right in our midst where women are still being downgraded or kept silent or abused. But thanks to the courage of so many women who have gone before us and the courage of so many brave and brilliant men for that matter, fewer and fewer women are questioning the value they have to offer in this world.

But the most dangerous problem we face today, if you ask me, is that there are cultures and communities everywhere, right in our midst, where people mean really well but men and women both are stuck in old, comfortable patterns.

If I’m being really honest, my house is a place like this.

We mean well. We’re trying. It’s important to both my husband and I that neither of us miss out on opportunities to bring our gifts to the world; and that we both feel confident enough to speak our minds, make tough decisions and take risks for what we each believe matters. But there are still moments where we fall into old ways of relating to each other.

And by that I mean I find myself, in moments, relying on him for my confidence.

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but it’s true.

I catch myself asking his permission before I make decisions—even small ones. I assume he knows what he’s doing when it comes to electronics and financial investments, so I don’t learn (when really, he’s just Googling it). I take his advice for my career over my own gut instinct. It’s comfortable. It’s easier. It’s what I’ve seen modeled out there in the world.

But mostly I do this because it takes a lot of courage and creativity and innovation and effort to manifest something new.

The most dangerous enemy of women is not culture or social structures or even men—who are up against cultural shifts and challenges of their own, to be fair. The most dangerous enemy of women is women. It’s the way we treat each other, the thoughts we have about ourselves, the permission we give ourselves to opt out of doing what is difficult and new.

The biggest reason we, as women, lack the confidence so many men have is because we keep blaming things like culture and advertising and the people and structures and communities instead of realizing the truth that we have what it takes to be just as confident in ourselves as men do.

The only one holding us back is us. We keep waiting for someone else to gift us our confidence when the truth is, we’ve had it all along.

It is inside of us. We’re just keeping it all pent up.

How do I know this? Well, to start, I see women all around me who are killing it when it comes to confidence. If confidence equals action, then not necessarily feeing all put-together when you’re executing that action doesn’t make you lose any confidence points. So in that case, I can think of a thousand women who are ramping up their confidence game.

I watched a terrified but brilliant woman, and friend, recently deliver a beautiful keynote at an event. She was scared (who wouldn’t be?) but she did it anyway, and I’m so glad she did. We needed what she said.

My sister-in-law, who just found out she has cancer, cut off her own, beautiful, long, flowing hair. Rather than let the cancer take it from her, she took action. She showed cancer who was boss. And she looks amazing (actually I think she looks kick-ass. That’s what I told her).

I’ve been listening to Liz Gilbert’s podcast called Big Magic lately and she interviews six women, all in different stages of life, who are all embarking on a creative project. She takes them through what she calls a “Magic Lesson” which is basically helping them discover their inner confidence and creative power. And let me tell you. Each one of these women is taking a massive step of confidence. What an inspiration.

Not to mention Liz Gilbert herself, who is a woman paving the way for all of us.

I could go on and on about women I admire who are taking the world by storm. But here’s what I want you to hear:

Every time you exert your opinion into the world, each time you stand your ground for something you want, each time you exercise your creative energy, every time you take a risk to try something new, even if you know you won’t be good at it—you are building into your own reservoir of confidence, one that you can access anytime you want.

It’s yours. You own it.

I have friends all over the country, and the world, who are bravely creating things and taking risks and going to places they never thought they would go. Some of them are venturing to dangerous parts of the world, some of them are venturing into motherhood, daring to lose sleep and go through labor pains and give themselves over to someone they deeply love.

Women are walking the delicate tightrope between staying at home to care for their families and putting their thoughts, ideas and gifts out there in the world.

This is where confidence comes from.

Thought to action. Applying for the job. Starting the investment account. Reaching out to that new friend. Trying to have a baby. Taking the opportunity. Booking the trip. Saying “yes” where you would normally say “no” or “no” where you would normally say yes.

And the stakes are really high here.

This is not something small we’re talking about. There are so many problems that come along with not having enough self-confidence.

To start, when we don’t know and love who we are, we harm ourselves.

This explains the reckless abandonment with which so many women enter into toxic relationships, and the years after years they stay. It explains experimentation with drugs and overdoing it with alcohol. It explains depression and anxiety, silence in the face of abusive religion. It explains eating disorders and over-exercise or binge-eating and throwing up.

Second, when we don’t know who we are, we can’t really be in relationship with anyone. So many women are waiting to get married in order to feel confident. But for me, getting married exacerbated my lack of self-confidence. Because if you put two people in a relationship and one person has no idea who she is, you get… well, actually, there is a word for this.

It’s called co-dependence. And it’s not pretty.

If you want your relationships to grow, if you want to feel closer to and more supported by your friends, if you know your relationship with your husband isn’t what it could be, hold off on blaming him/them. Work on your feelings of self-confidence and as your inner-world shifts I bet you’ll see your outer-world will change as well.

Confident women are changing the world.

Without confidence, we can have all kinds of ideas about how we want the world to be, but we will never be able to execute them. Thought to action. That is what confidence does. So if we don’t work on our own sense of self-confidence, it’s going to be difficult for us to make progress on much of anything.

Women can be the answer to so many of the world’s problems.

But not without confidence.

Confident women are ending violence against women. They’re standing up for themselves and saying, “I won’t let you treat me like this. I’m putting an end to this for good.” Confident women are rescuing other women from slavery and prostitution. They’re taking refugees into their homes and giving them money and helping them heal.

Confident women are getting on stages and standing up in their homes and saying to their husbands and their children, “things use to be this way, but that is going to change.”

Confident women are restoring peace in the world.

Confident women are starting businesses and raising brave girls and sensitive boys. They’re speaking up at tables full of men and women alike and standing up against cultural messages that say only a certain kind of person matters.

They’re removing themselves from communities and relationships where they are not valued because they know they will never find their voice where they’re asked to stay silent. They’re deeply compassionate but also strongly convicted and unwilling to act in a way that goes against that conviction.

But most of all, confident women are taking a stand against their own jealousy and pessimism and perfectionism and competitive spirit and are saying to the women around them, “I think you are so brave and beautiful for doing that thing you just did.” They’re taking notes and getting creative and telling themselves, “nothing is impossible… we can do this.”

You are a confident woman. That’s the truth.

You just might not know it yet.

The Mind Body Connection and The Closest Thing I’ve Experienced to a Miracle.

For more than a decade, I struggled with crippling food allergies. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a position like this—either with chronic pain, or infertility, or migraines, or hormone imbalance or extra weight that just won’t come off—where it’s clear there is something “off” in your body but nobody can figure out exactly what, and so there seems to be no solution and no end to your suffering.

But if you have, you know how completely trapping it can feel.

And the other thing you know, if you’ve ever been in this position, is how hard it is to talk about what you’re experiencing. I didn’t talk about my food allergies for years. Mostly because phrases like “bowel movement” and “loose stools” don’t exactly seem like polite dinner conversation but also because anytime I tried to talk about it, I worried I was complaining or drawing attention to myself, or making a big deal out of nothing.

It was easier to just say, “no, I’m really okay. I’ve got this covered. Things are under control. My suffering is nothing compared to so-and-so.”

But I was really sick.

Some days I would have such bad diarrhea it would make me afraid to leave the house. Most nights I would lay awake, praying for my stomach to stop hurting. My diet consisted of, basically, Saltine crackers, diet coke, easy mac, french fries and the occasional bowl of cheerios with soy milk. So super healthy, in other words. But these were the things that seemed to cause me the least amount of pain.


And still, I made a handful of trips to the emergency room. The doctors would ask me what my pain was like, and the only thing I could think to tell them was, “it feels like I’m digesting needles” or “…I think my insides are bleeding.”

All their tests came back negative.

Celiac and Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis and colon cancer and a number of other things. They even tested me for lactose intolerance, which I was convinced I had, but nope… that test came back negative, too. Nobody could explain what was happening to me.

And then, finally, a glimmer of hope. A diagnosis. A specialist I was seeing ordered a test, just on the off chance, and the results came back positive. Dietary Fructose Intolerance (DFI).

The solution they gave me was to avoid fructose (the sugar found in fruit, most vegetables and of course High Fructose Corn Syrup) for the rest of my life.

I’ll never forget taking the list of “approved” foods to the grocery store for the first time, wandering around for an hour and a half or so, reading labels, and putting everything I was used to buying back on the shelf. After close to two hours, I came home with several bags full of food I had to (gasp) cook myself.

I started watching the food network, learning how to make my own food and finding some peace in nourishing myself.

You would think this would have fixed everything, but no.

When I started following the diet my doctor recommended, my symptoms dissipated. At least there was that. I was able to sleep through the night with very few stomach problems. My chronic migraines stopped. I stopped making those “fun” little trips to the emergency room. Within a few months, I dropped 20 pounds. It’s amazing what your body can do when it isn’t fighting an uphill battle all the time.

But my diagnosis also meant that three times a day—at least—I was reminded of my limitations. This was back before people were talking about things like “Gluten Free” or “Paleo” or GMOs and organic. This was the age of Atkins, people. And the way I saw it, I had two choices. Either I could spend the rest of my life being the girl with food allergies or I could disengage from the whole corporate eating ritual altogether.

So I all but stopped going out to eat with friends.

Honestly, it never felt super worth it anyway. I would order a plain piece of chicken—cooked with no oil or seasoning (because it was too much trouble to ask what was in the marinades and mixtures), on a salad, which was usually a bed of iceberg lettuce, with no tomatoes or carrots or dressing. $15 to be embarrassed and anxious and mostly miserable.

Holidays were also packed with anxiety for me.

Suddenly I became the problem, the topic of conversation, “Can Ally have this? Can she eat that?” Or I would bring my own food, packed into little tupperware, like a total loser, and eat my wierd-o food while everyone else pigged out on pumpkin pie and stuffing. I always felt left out, or like the “problem” everyone else had to solve.

In fact, there were times I just ate what was put in front of me—all the while knowing it would make me sick—just to avoid the public humiliation.

One day, someone I knew suggested my problem wasn’t just physical.

I’ll never forget it. “Have you ever considered…” she asked, “that your food intolerances might be connected to your fear and anxiety?” And while you might think this suggestion would be a glimmer of hope for me, a light at the end of the tunnel, it wasn’t. I found her comment insulting and so completely impolite and out of line, I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days.

And then weeks.

It taunted me. It infuriated me. How could she…?

After that, I didn’t want to, but I did begin to see some parallels between the physical symptoms I was experiencing and my fears and insecurities. For example, I would often think to myself, after refusing an invitation to go to dinner, about how left out I felt—how this “always” happened to me, how nobody really understood what I was going through and how I was invisible and insignificant.

I also noticed how the pain would flare up during times when I was under a lot of stress—one time when I was in a job that was a terrible fit for me and another time when a close friend of mine committed suicide. My symptoms would come back, in full force, even though I was eating all the same foods that had eliminated my symptoms months ago.

This was just enough to keep me wondering, keep me guessing that maybe there might be more to this than just the physical.

But I wasn’t convinced.

I kept the possibility of healing in the back of my mind.

I would research and try a new diet where you’d be really strict for a few weeks or months and then re-introduce the problematic foods. I worked with a naturopath who walked me through an elimination diet and suggested I cut out gluten for good, so I did that.

I tried a product called Juice Plus—a whole food supplement that contains the real, whole fruits and vegetables, which are picked at their optimum freshness and then condensed down to capsule form. I thought maybe this would be a good way for me to get some of the nutrients I knew I was lacking, without the fructose itself. I also hoped it would bring healing for me, as it had for so many others.

I tried acupuncture and essential oils and yoga and probiotics and a dozen other things. I drank bone broth. I did fermented foods and all-organic and paleo and a Whole 30.

This went on for a decade. I tried everything I could think of.

And yet nothing worked. Progress, maybe, but no real healing. My hopes were always dashed. Each time I would feel more demoralized than the last.

A little over a year ago, I started seeing a therapist.

And about six months into our time together, she told me something that piqued my interest. She said, “I work with clients all the time who work through their emotional symptoms and then their physical ones all but vanish.” It felt reminiscent of the phrase that woman had said to me so many years ago—about my food allergies being connected to my emotional state. Except this time I knew she was right.

Why is it that the most helpful thing we can hear in the moment is also the most difficult?

As she and I talked more about this, I realized that so many of the emotional things we were working on together mirrored the things I had, for so long, experienced with food. Feeling invisible or “different” or constantly left out translated to never being able to participate in this those holiday get-togethers, dinners or group gatherings.

People-pleasing or always deferring my own needs for the sake of others translated into my tendency to eat foods that made me physically ill just so I didn’t have to bring up my food allergies or draw attention to myself.

A fear of being vulnerable or asking for help translated into my inability to talk openly about the struggle I faced with food on a daily basis.

The more we talked, the more I began to see the direct connection between what was happening with me physically and my emotional struggles.

Can I be honest?

There was a tremendous amount of fear in this realization for me. If my external world reflected my internal one, and if I had the power to shape my physical symptoms by addressing my emotional ones, what did that mean for me? It meant I had a huge amount of responsibility, first of all, and activated all my insecurities about not being good enough.

Could the reason I hadn’t found healing, despite all my effort, be because I was somehow fundamentally flawed?

What if other people deserved to be healed but I did not?

The more we talked about this, the more I realized my fears were keeping me from the healing I desired. And when I could calm my fears and actually listen, what I knew—deep, deep down, was this: healing is not a passive event but an active one. We must participate in our own healing.

It’s a “get up and walk” kind of thing.

So I made a few commitments to myself.

First, I told myself I was going to believe for my own healing, no matter how long it took. I would continue the things I had done before—acupuncture, essential oils, good diet, Juice Plus, etc—because I knew they had helped me with symptoms and pain and I knew they were part of my progress. But I was going to incorporate an emotional aspect as well.

I was going to work through what was happening inside until it showed up on the outside.

I also committed I wouldn’t do this alone, so I started talking to my closest friends about my allergies and their symptoms.

Two of my friends specifically—Betsy and Katie—would call me each time before I came over to their house and say, “now, remind me: can you have carrots? I’m making soup, but I want to make sure you can eat it.” I’m not sure they’ll ever know how healing it was for me that that was their response to me. I was terrified of being an inconvenience, of being left out, and their gestures of love showed me my fears were unfounded.

I belonged. I was welcomed. Even if my food allergies were an inconvenience, I wasn’t an inconvenience.

I committed to celebrate even the smallest victories in my healing, something that did not come naturally for me. I would not undersell myself or expect too much.

I refused to feel defeated.

I told myself, over and over, “you deserve to find healing.”

And only as I felt compelled, I began reintroducing foods, one at a time. I started really slowly at first—just a bite of a banana one day, and then another small bite the next. I reminded myself that I was in control of this process and that I could stop anytime I wanted. “You have choices” I would tell myself, which was something I was telling myself in my emotional healing, as well.

I had luck with a little bit of banana, so I moved on to blueberries. Then tomatoes. Each time I would eat something that used to make me sick, I would say to myself:

“This is good for me and my body knows exactly what to do with it. My body will take what’s good and get rid of the rest…”

As soon as I started having some success, I gained some momentum. I tried more and more foods, without any problems. Pineapple and honey and peppers and tomato sauce and orange juice and everything a little faster and in bigger quantities. And before I knew it, I was eating nearly everything again.

Foods I hadn’t touched in fifteen years. A miracle.

But to top off everything, after more than a month of eating all my new foods with no symptoms, I found myself in a particularly stressful circumstance—one that triggered all of my fears insecurities—and within seconds, physical symptoms returned.

It wasn’t until I removed myself from this situation, set a boundary, and talked to a friend about what I was going through that my symptoms eased again.

Why am I telling you this?

Not only that, why am I writing the longest post I’ve ever put on my blog to tell you this?

Good question.

First, I know I’m not the only one who is feeling trapped by some kind of physical ailment—migraines or endometriosis or Cancer or food allergies. And I know physical illness, along with it’s obvious physical symptoms, comes with many emotional ones as well.

Hopelessness. Vulnerability. Fear. Distress.

And while I am not making any direct comparisons from my unique and specific situation to yours, I do want to say: our outer world so often reflects our inner realities. The connection is not always direct or specific, but if you’re like me, considering the connection might give you some insights you weren’t able to see before.

Also, one of the greatest lessons I learned through this whole process was this: we have power to shape and shift the world around us. We don’t have total control. But we have more control than we give ourselves credit for. And the physical world we experience is often a reflection of the emotional world we carry inside.

Finally I want you to know, if you’re on a healing journey (aren’t we all?), don’t give up.

It may take so much longer than you ever imagined to find your healing, and healing my come in a way you never imagined or expected, but that’s okay. You have time. And the journey itself is so important. You’re learning and gaining along the way in ways you don’t even realize. You’re growing and changing and becoming along the way, and people love you so much—enough to call you and ask you about carrots—if you will let them.

You deserve to find healing. So don’t give up.

The Real Reason We’re All So Busy

The month of August was busy for us. I mean BUSY. I was pretty sure, at some point, my calendar was going to say, “no I’m sorry, there is not enough room for any more events in August… come again later.”

In fact, the only thing busier than our month of August is… uh…

Our month of September.

Right now, if I sit and look at my iCal for long enough, I can feel myself start to hyperventilate. I see weekends where we’re working or traveling, all the way through the weekend, and I can already feel in my bones how exhausted I’m going to be. The whole thing makes me want to let out a tiny whimper.


But it also has me thinking about why I do this to myself.

Why are we so freaking BUSY all. the. time?

The reason we most often cite for our chronic busyness (myself included) is we don’t want to let people down. It’s our people-pleasing problem that’s really getting in our way, we say. And in a roundabout way, I guess we’re right. But I think there’s a much deeper reason we pack our schedules so full we want to cry.

That is this: busyness makes us feel less inadequate.

We’re mind-numbingly busy because we choose to be. Busyness is our crutch. (Tweet That)

I read all these things on the Internet (and everywhere) about people waking up at 5am to crush their productivity and if I’m being totally honest, the whole thing makes me feel a little sick. It’s not because I think there is anything wrong with waking up at 5am or being insanely productive.

Like everyone, I’m always trying to maximize the amount of work I get done with a given amount of energy. And I have gone through long seasons of my life waking up at 5am.

Book-writing seasons. Great seasons. Happy seasons. Productive seasons.

But the reason the whole thing makes me feel sick to my stomach is because, at the end of the day, no matter how much we accomplish or produce or “crush”, no matter how early we wake up, it will never make us feel like we’re enough.

That feeling has to come from somewhere else.

If I’m being honest, I like staying busy. It’s comfortable to me. I’m happiest when I have my nice little to-do lists organized neatly on post-it notes, with tiny little tasks I can efficiently check off. By the end of the day, I feel so happy and in control, like life is CRAZY, but I have totally CONQUERED it.

You know, being so amazing and all.

Busyness helps me cope with my feelings of worthlessness.

If I can do more, be more, go harder, make more money, fit more in, please more people, get more attention and accolades for my accomplishments, maybe one of these days, one of those accomplishments will make me feel like I’m not such a waste of space.

Maybe one day, if I’m busy enough, I’ll finally start to feel like I matter for something. The problem is it never happens like that.

Feeling worthy is something that happens from the inside, out. (Tweet That)

A little over a year ago I spent a week at a place called Onsite.

It’s basically like summer camp for adults, with some counseling woven in. They make you turn in your cell phone and you’re not allowed to talk about what you do for a living. Then you spend a week with the same small group of people doing pretty much… well… nothing.

In fact, I remember being struck by how easy it was to sit for an hour—or more—after dinner, just talking about… hmm… who even knows what? I don’t really remember what any of our conversations were about. I just remember feeling deeply connected and endeared to these people who, for all intents and purposes, I had just met.

Now, to be fair, it didn’t start off like this.

The first few hours at Onsite—without my phone or my friends or my busy schedule to move me from one thing to the next—felt horribly awkward and painful. I wondered what on earth I had done. It took everything in me not to get in my car and drive home.

But, by the end of the week, despite the fact that I was totally disconnected from the world around me, completely disengaged from my career goals, didn’t send or receive a single email or a single text message…

This was probably the most “productive” week of my life.

Worthiness comes from the INSIDE, out.

Then productivity follows. Clarity of thought and of vision. Decisiveness. Permission to let people down.

I’m not sure how this sits with you.

Maybe I’m the only one who super-charges my schedule so I don’t have to sit still with myself. Maybe I’m the only one who numbs myself out at the end of the day watching Netflix until I’m so tired I can’t keep my eyes open, so I don’t have to get comfortable with the silence.

Maybe I’m the only one who, on a day when I have nothing to do, finds things to do just so I can keep feeling “productive”.

But I kind of don’t think I am.

So if you’re even slightly tracking with me, here is something I am working on.

I say “no,” then I pay attention.

I say no to doing the dishes while our dinner guests are still there, opting to put it off for the morning so we can continue in conversation—and then I pay attention to how it makes me feel. Anxious. Stressed. Like I’m not doing enough.

I say no to a project that is a great opportunity. A huge leg up for me. A “can’t miss” kind of thing. Then I pay attention to how it makes me feel. Like I’ll never make it—never make a good living doing what I do, never achieve the success I want.

I say no to a volunteer event—the one that would benefit so many people and make me look so great and loving and kind. Then I pay attention to how it makes me feel.

Like I’m not nice enough, not kind enough, like I don’t do enough.

And in those places where I am so broken and fragile, I love myself.

Which mostly looks like laughing at myself, because, well, I am ridiculous. And also amazing. I remind myself that no amount of success or money or fame or even attention for doing “good” will ever make me feel good. No amount of domestic prowess will ever make me feel like I am enough.

Not for very long anyway.

I already am enough. Deep down inside I know it.

And I can find it down there, like buried treasure, if I am patient and persistent and quiet enough.

And if I can just find some space in my calendar…