I was nominated for two superlatives in high school. Most Unique, and Best Car. (I drove a 2000 VW Passat. What? And it was a P.O.S. Also, I may or may not once have accidentally poured oil into the coolant reservoir. However, that’s beside the point. Thank goodness. Because I’d like to avoid that story for now.)
I didn’t win either superlative. And despite my shaking it off with a smile, there was a small piece of me that felt a little disappointed. No love lost over Best Car — (seriously, what?) but damn, I wanted to be Most Unique.
Most Unique equated in my brain to Most Special. “YES, I’M SPECIAL! My awkward habits and weird sense of humor ARE endeared by my peers! I always knew I was special.”
Insecurity is my starting point. But guess what? That doesn’t make me special. Because whether or not you’d admit it in the comments or to your partner or to yourself in the mirror, you, too, are probably insecure about at least one aspect of yourself.
It’s a biologically human. “It turns out insecurity isn’t an oversight of evolution. In fact, it’s necessary: a healthy dose of self-doubt spurs us to monitor ourselves and our interactions. It prompts introspection and helps us identify how to get along better with our fellow humans. In short, we doubt ourselves in order to check ourselves.” (According to science.)
So, a small about of heart can be taken that…it’s not a BAD thing. But can this thinking be a slippery slope? Hell. Yes. On days when my anxiety is so crippling that I think I’m unlovable and doing all the wrong things and existentially yelling, “WHAT’S THE POINT?!” (hi, I’m a nightmare), do I wish I wasn’t genetically predisposed to question my sense of self and everything I say and do? HELL. YES.
Alas, even on days when I am Feel-ing-My-Self, I am, at my core, that same awkward and insecure teenager who wanted to win Most Unique.
That same seventh grader who sat at the ‘cool’ table at lunch — without permission — and tried so hard to contribute to their conversations, but was inevitably met with blank / confused / unamused expressions. (The cheerleaders would wipe grease off their pizza with napkins. Yet somehow I was the weird one?? Yeah, okay.)
The same third grader who lied to the hairstylist when my mom dropped me off one afternoon. “No, she said you can cut it off to be short like a boy’s!” And then didn’t understand why kids made fun of it.
I’ll always be her.
The difference now is that, while I might not always get there, I try to not feel the need for accolades like “Best” or “Most.” Because I’m not the best or most. (Except, maybe Most Likely to Dress Like the Mom from ‘The Santa Claus.’)
That third grader? Yep, she was annoying and weird. But she was also kind, curious, funny, and bold. So was that seventh grader. And yes, even that high schooler.
Maybe I’m not the best or most.
But I am enough.
And just in case you need to hear it: You’re enough, too.