In my unending mission to improve myself, I constantly pummel myself with this phrase: never enough.
There's always something left to be done.
There's always room to improve myself.
There's always a better way to do things.
I'm my worst critic. I have a tendency to constantly review the things I've done, the words that I've said, and the way I have reacted to some things. I try my best--but despite this, I always feel that I fall short.
It can be an unforgiving mantra. And I will admit that I can be very unforgiving towards myself, at times. I sometimes envy people who could laugh their mistakes off and think nothing of it. I see the smarter ones mull over their errors and charge it to experience.
I don't. I often see failures as weaknesses of my character. I could've done better, but I didn't--hence I failed.
I couldn't learn fast enough.
I didn't act quickly enough.
I didn't do enough.
While the good thing is that it reminds me to never become complacent, telling myself all the time that it's never enough can be very exhausting. And frankly, there are times when I just want to curl up in a ball and not do anything at all, paralyzed by this fear that I am setting myself up for a landslide of failures.
Sometimes I wonder how my mom did it. I remember this one night, while I was still young, when she was talking to me: "Sometimes I feel weak too, you know?"
It was weird and somewhat disconcerting to see her that way. There was my mother, who always seemed to know what she was doing, admitting that she wasn't as strong as I imagined her to be.
It's easy to box people into certain facets that we see of them. I've always known my mom as this stern, impenetrable, invincible force that held the world together. She got shit done. That may have meant, at times, that she was emotionally inaccessible, but perhaps that was how she made things happen.
She had to be strong because people depended on her. She was the stereotypical tiger mom.
I feel like I've emulated that attitude, maybe a bit to the extreme. Most moments, I would keep quiet as I try to lay out all the scenarios that could happen, planning my course of action for each possibility.
I want to be the best of what I can be. And to want this constantly is to assume that who I am is not exactly the best. The room for improvement is always ever-growing.
I suppose the solution for this is to maintain a healthy discontentment.
The human experience is fraught with failures as well as successes, after all. Each failure is an opportunity to dust one's self off and try.
By not being enough, I can keep on trying. And that should be enough to make me kinder to myself.
HELLO, MY NAME IS EVAN TAN.
I'm a writer and communications professional based in Manila, Philippines. Outside of my regular job, I like to travel, work out, volunteer, watch movies and plays, go to art galleries/ fairs and museums, read books, and eat vegetarian food.
More about me here.