Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism

Good (enough?)

10 Comments

I’m having one of those days. I’m supposed to study (catch up on some readings) and I just.can’t.get.myself to do it. I’m constantly staring at the wall, the air, check something in my room (did I put the pants away?), walk to the kitchen, open the fridge, stare at the fridge, close the fridge. I just can’t work today, but I really should. Readings are due tomorrow.

These are the times I can’t help but wonder what on earth made me believe that I’m good enough for this. My own behavior frustrates me so much. I can’t concentrate, I can’t read. I wish I knew a way out but I don’t.

Often times I believe that my obsession with “being good enough” has a lot to do with my religious past. Growing up, being a certain way was a central element. They always say christianity isn’t about being ‘good enough’ or ‘doing good things’ to get to go to heaven, but at the end of the day it is. It’s about behaving a certain way, wearing certain things, saying and thinking them. The constant pressure to be good enough, even if only for your parents, if not for God, is something that never quite leaves you.

I wish I could be better. I wish I could study harder, memorize more, know more. When I don’t, I blame myself. It’s because I didn’t try hard enough, it’s because I wasn’t good enough. But God – or teachers – don’t tell us to do things that can’t be done, right? If I fail, it must be something about me that isn’t ok.

And what does failing mean, anyway? What standard do you have to meet to ‘succeed’? Perfection? In our world, perfection is the only valuable standard. Everything but perfection is failure. No matter the reasons – you should’ve thought ahead and avoided the things out of your control, somehow.

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10 thoughts on “Good (enough?)

  1. Failing only means you are a human being. No person is perfect. Failures can paralyze us, or teach us a better way to approach something in the future. Legalism is a system that guarantees failure for failure’s sake. No one can measure up to another’s ideal, which is what legalism entails. It is trying to follow someone else’s ideal, and be someone other than oneself, being untrue to who you really are. I hope that, as you continue to journey away from strict legalism, you discover who you are, and begin to see the freedom that being true to yourself means. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect; so why do we impose that standard on each other?

  2. The pressures of uni have that effect on lots of us. I was so scared of disappointing my parents that I lived in crippling fear. Once I let go of it (and it took me three years) things got a bit easier. I didn’t use it (because I thought I didn’t deserve it) but my univeristy provided free counseling for students with issues like mine and maybe yours does and it could be beneficial?

    Anyway, you are a really impressive woman and you’ve achieved soooo much, best wishes.

    Paula G V aka Yukimi

  3. Hang in there with it, you can do it. It is frightening and at times overwhelming, but all worth it in the end. You CAN do it!!

  4. You are not just “good enough.” God made you “VERY GOOD.” That does not mean not human, dear. Be as kind spirited to YOU as you would be to another. :)

  5. I’ve always been baffled by the link between Christianity and “perfect.” The central idea of Christianity is believing that Christ, the son of God, died to atone for our sins. So, if we’re supposed to be perfect, what’s the point of his crucifixion?

    By the way, some of my best work occurred after a bout of procrastination and insecurity. Sending good thoughts your way!

  6. I would say there’s definitely a link to your religious/fundamentalist upbringing. Having had a christian fundamentalist childhood, I know those issues too well, and I’m still struggling with acknowledging that I’m anything but good/perfect and being comfortable with it….
    What helped me tremendously was Marlene Winell’s book ‘Leaving the fold’ – since it seemed to analyze and categorize all my scattered thoughts and emotions regarding my growing up, and put it into perspective. It wasn’t just me or just my personal problem. My emotions, reactions and difficulties around this were/are pretty understandable considering that I’ve heard all my childhood that I am ‘sinful’, in fact that I have been since birth, that I am in need of forgiveness, yet that I should try my best at being good/perfect.
    It’s this doublebind that is impossible to grasp or even to solve, even for adults, so how should a child that hasn’t known anything else should go about this but try to be perfect, yet knowing that she cannot ever be perfect??
    Knowing that these feelings of never being good enough are just that: repercussions from my past, that today there is no need to be perfect, that it’s ok to make mistakes, in fact that everybody makes mistakes…. Remembering this over and over again has helped me to put this into perspective. It’s painful, yes, and difficult, and tiresome at times, and sometimes I wish I didn’t have to deal with this enormous amounts of self-doubt, but it’s possible to change those patterns, even if it takes a lot of time and effort..
    Do have a look into Winell’s book, if you don’t know it already, there’s also some really helpful ideas in there how to go about deconstructing this ‘inner critic’, how to nuture your parts that didn’t get what they needed when you were younger…
    Wishing you all the best on your ongoing journey – you can do this!

  7. Hi, BD. Great blog you got going.

    You seem to be one of many people who’ve let others dictate to them what a relationship with God is. It’s not a set of rules or a list of do’s and don’t’s. That’s religion. A relationship with God is walking with Him in faith and honesty, letting Him improve you from the inside out, and trusting that what Christ did at Calvary, not our own deeds, is what makes atonement for the times we slip up along the way.

    I couldn’t make that distinction for years either. Videos like this one helped a lot:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9mLwH1ql6c

  8. Here’s another possible perspective. There has been more than one post where I’ve thought you sound like me in your distractibility, etc. You might consider looking into adult ADD–your “failures” might be less a character flaw and more a difference in the way your brain functions. Your first paragraph here describes exactly what (usually) happens when I sit down to grade. On the other hand, I can get into hyperfocus sometimes (particularly if it’s something I enjoy, like reading a book or playing a video game); during hyperfocus, you will have a VERY hard time pulling my attention off of what I’m doing.

  9. You should look up imposter syndrome — it’s incredibly common among higher ed students no matter what their background. I would wager good money that most of the people you’re in school with feel exactly like you do when it comes to not feeling like they quite hack it.

  10. Perfectionism is a trap.

    It can come from fundamentalism, but it can also come from any impossible situation, where we delude ourselves into thinking if we were only Perfect, we could get out of this mess.

    Instead, I strive for excellence. This works so much better!

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