Jess's Story: I Am Not Enough
Jess has a great story. I know we can all relate to struggling with self image and it all roots from things that have happened to us, words that were said, and others having bad attitudes. Her story is all about the lie from fear telling her that she wasn’t good enough. She dealt with being made fun of growing up by other kids and the early stages of puberty, where no teenager really knows what’s going on inside their body, they just deal with it. Here’s part of Jess’s story.
“When I was around 11 I started becoming obsessed with perfection. I would cry if I was doing my homework and didn’t feel like I was doing a good enough job. I was unhappy with my appearance and perpetually felt like I wasn’t beautiful when I looked in the mirror. I resented the breakouts on my skin and often felt very dirty and unlikeable. I didn’t like to have my picture taken. I think it’s fair to say that puberty, in general, is not a kind season of life for many of us, but it was especially difficult for me. It didn’t take long to get me to the point I felt in every possible way that someone was deeply, deeply wrong with me.
Looking back I think what was being formed in me, was a feeling that I was not good enough and whatever I could do to compensate for that feeling of inadequacy, which was working really hard. If my dad was drunk at home, I could be less of a burden to my mom by being good at school. If I could make sure to look a little nicer tomorrow at school, maybe people would notice me. If I studied for three hours for a test that should have only required an hour, I would feel like I was smart for once. These were just a few things I remember being very hard on myself for. I was overcompensating because more than anything I wanted really badly to be better than people told me I was.
Feeling like I was rejected or a target in some way was something that lasted long into college. This is not a victim mentality. There were friends, classmates, people from church, teachers, bosses, that had all added to these feelings. Ask yourself this: if in every area of life you noticed people were going out of their way to tear you down before the age of 16, wouldn’t you feel like you were at fault? After a while when life kicks you over and over, you really wonder about yourself. I could tell you tons of stories, some you probably wouldn’t believe, and so I often wondered, WHY? Why do people dislike me so much? Why would God allow this to keep happening to me? Does this happen to other people? I don’t know anyone else who this happens to. I think I’m pretty nice. A few people have said I’m funny. A few people have told me I’m a good listener. I don’t say anything bad about people. What is so wrong with me that people want to treat me this way? How can I make it stop?
Even though I grew up in church and knew God loved me, I still felt like nothing could save me from the cruelty of others. I say this because we all go through pain and even if you have faith, it doesn’t mean you are exempt. I gave as much as I could to God in prayer, and yet I felt like there was always this part of me that was rotting away piece by piece. I wanted to feel accepted the way that I was, to hear that I was enough, and people were happy that I was around. And yet experience told me time and time again that this was not my reality.
I remember when I met my first boyfriend and I finally felt like I had the love I wanted. I was 17 and I knew what it was like to feel completely understood and desired. When inevitably that relationship ended, I was crushed all over again because it reminded me of old experiences. A girl once called me over and over on my phone and laughing about how ugly I was, she even started calling my mom to tell her how awful I was and telling me I was a joke between her and my ex. Again I would fall deeper and deeper back into my old thoughts. Why would people treat me this way? Why was I rejected? That word I felt represented so much of my life to that point.
It’s been many years later and I’d love to tell you I have the answer now. That there was one pivotal moment that changed it all for me and I can see it all so clearly looking back now. But honestly, I don’t think there ever was. I think I just learned to somehow keep going. To keep going to church and read things I didn’t always believe. To sing songs that I didn’t always believe. To listen to my mom tell me that I was a good person. To get out of bed and go to class. To study. To succeed and also fail. To keep trying to make friends. To finally make friends. To be told by others that I had value in their lives outside of my own performance. To open up to strangers and have them see something in me that helped them to open up and feel like they had someone’s attention. To hold onto small victories and remember them when I had doubts.
There are still moments when my flesh tries to trick me into thinking no one likes me. I can honestly say I probably struggled with that earlier this week. The lie that I am alone. But luckily I’ve lived a lot of stories by now and experience tells me that I am not rejected, and I am not alone no matter what the current season.”