There Is Enough
I have lived most of my life with a mindset of scarcity. Truthfully, I was surprised to realize this fact because I have also lived my life with a mindset of gratitude. Maybe that actually makes sense come to think of it. Lately, though, I have realized what has stemmed from that scarcity mindset, and it wasn’t all good.
Often, the coexisting thoughts in my brain make no sense. I can simultaneously feel great joy for a friend on the occasion of a difficult accomplishment and be deeply hurt because deep down some part of me believes their success somehow lessens mine. I can read a poem another unknown poet has written and love if for its mastery, and immediately I must fight the notion that it somehow means my work is horrific and pedestrian. At one time, if a friend spoke highly of another friend or mentioned that the other had done a beautiful thing for or with them, my instinct was to feel that I was not measuring up, that the other friend was better, was held in higher esteem, and I wasn’t enough. It is as if my mind believes that someone else’s goodness somehow draws good away from me.
I recognized the jealousy in this thought process a long time ago, but now I also see that it comes from an innate belief (that I didn’t even begin to understand until now) in scarcity. Surely there is only so much success, so much talent, so much friendship, so much beauty, so much admiration, so much love to go around. Surely it is limited. Surely if someone else has a large slice of the pie, mine must be smaller or otherwise inferior. So inside I would scrounge and horde and grumble, and the little monster inside would curl into a corner and spit hate at me when she heard others coming out well.
“She finished two books already. you haven’t even finished one. You’re not a real writer. You haven’t even talked to an agent much less been published.”
“Look at that beautiful gift her other friend gave her. You didn’t even remember her birthday. No wonder she likes that friend better.”
“He said that her dress is really nice. Must mean yours looks like you made it from the drapes. You always look a mess.”
She’s a nasty little monster. But she’s actually been pretty quiet of late because I’ve realized that the truth is that there is enough. There is enough for all of us.
The beauty of the ocean doesn’t lessen the majesty of the mountains. The awe one finds at sunset does not empty the well of wonderment at sunrise. My enjoyment of Christina Rosetti’s work does not somehow mean that I feel Erin Hanson’s is less pleasing.
I can stand alone because there is not vortex of positive energy being sucked from me and given to anyone else. There is enough.
Now, don’t take this to mean that all shares are equal. They are not, and that is as it should be. We are all pieces of a puzzle that somehow works because all the pieces are shaped differently, and not everyone can be an edge piece. I might have forgotten the birthday, but I was up at three in the morning when that friend’s world was coming unglued and she needed an ear. There is enough.
My mindset of scarcity led to decades of insecurity and jealousy. Certainly, I am no great master of munificence. I still find myself occasionally berating the hateful little monster, but most of the time I remember that just because someone else might be more of something than I am, it doesn’t mean that I am less. It simply means I am different, and that is enough.
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