Dealing with feeling ‘not good enough’

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A few days ago, I was told that I would no longer be offered anymore shifts for this freelance writing gig I had.

The email, sent on a Friday night, completely ruined my mood. While I completely understand budgeting is an issue, having to read this email, to put it frankly, sucked. It made me feel like I wasn’t good enough to be kept on as part of the team when I knew others hadn’t been given the same unfortunate news. So why did it feel like I’m the only one kicked to the curb? I felt like my words — as important as they were — just did not fit what was wanted, like they weren’t good enough. I felt like I wasn’t good enough. Maybe, I thought, if I tried harder, did something a little differently, this wouldn’t be happening.

Sure, it was just one day a week, but this was something I’d been so excited about, so freaking happy about — so to have it yanked away from me, only a month later, felt like utter crap. I wanted to cry but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. It’s not that deep, I told myself. Why am I being so unnecessarily dramatic? It just didn’t make sense, to be so morose over something I hadn’t even been doing long at all, but the truth is: I can’t help how I feel, and I can’t help but feel like I just am not good enough.

If I was, then I’d probably still be there as a regular writer.

But this was no longer the case.

Feeling inadequate is a deeply rooted issue, from low self-worth and a timeline governed by society where we’re meant to have achieved xyz by a certain age. We’re all in competition with one another, society tells us, so we must be the best — and if you lose something, then you’re nothing. There is that constant pressure to hustle, to constantly achieve the next greatest thing, instead of appreciating every small moment, instead of thinking “hey, I achieved this now” we’re made to feel like we need to keep working, keep trying, keep pushing ourselves to the limit.

With all that bullshit comes self-hatred and a low self-esteem, feeling like nothing we ever do is enough. Now, having lost that freelance shift I’d really enjoyed, I feel like that more than ever. I feel like I’ll never achieve anything and I’ll never ever measure up to others in the same field. Then again, I hardly ever send pitches anyway — and the ones I do send tend to get rejected. I’m just glad I met this year’s target goal of five commissions. Right after though, it felt like I needed to do more, to be more.

Even when an editor reached out to me to write for them, I felt immense excitement even though it’s an unpaid opportunity, but nonetheless one I am super excited about because at least my name will be in print! — I still had the same thought running through my head: I’m not good enough, I need to do more, I need to be better. I am constantly comparing myself to everyone else, not just in terms of my writing and the successes or pitfalls, but every other aspect of my life: from the way I look to the talents I have (see: none).

The thing is though, I can’t hate myself into becoming someone I love. None of us can. It doesn’t work like that.

To be feeling like I’m not good enough, like I’ll never be enough — for this magazine, for that commission, for the job I want two years from now, for the love of my partner and my mates — is exhausting. It dampens my mood, sours my day and sends me into a pit of complete darkness where all I am surrounded by are the depressing thoughts, melancholy and repeating phrase. I’m not good enough, I’m not good enough, I’m not good enough.

All this does, however, is continue to make me feel shit.

In the midst of all this pressure, all this overwhelmingly exhausting negativity and letting one bad thing get to me, I’m forgetting that I met my goal of getting five commissions this year — something I’ve been able to achieve within a month into 2021, I’m forgetting that I was able to self-publish two poetry books (regardless of whether they’re selling or not, it is still a massive freakin’ accomplishment), I’m forgetting that I have written articles about PCOS that reached a lot of people, about sexuality and life as a brown woman because the world doesn’t stop throwing crap at us no matter what we demand. I’m forgetting that I got through one of the hardest years ever, with J by my side, celebrated our anniversary, celebrated life just because. Hell, I’m forgetting that I am a pretty damn good writer, even if I don’t have a freelance writing shift anymore.

Past articles I have written, like all the ones I wrote on Clitbait, received a lot of positive feedback; I had people messaging me on Twitter and Instagram, telling me how much they appreciated those pieces, how much they related to them and were thankful I wrote about those topics, brought awareness to the struggles of life as a (brown) women. The thing is, I’m not not good enough, I’m sat here writing this, my laptop balancing on my knees, and thinking about everything I’ve been able to attain over the past year. Sure, I don’t have bylines in Cosmopolitan, HuffPost, The Guardian, Stylist and others, but that doesn’t mean I’m not good enough, right?

But this one email — this one goddamn email — made me feel like that.

It made me feel every negative emotion I’ve ever felt, times a hundred, and I wanted to curl into a ball and hide beneath my duvet and never come out again. It was only four hours a week, why couldn’t I be enough to stay on? I wrote loads of pieces, I poured my time into it, I did research, I tried. So why could they not make room for me? Was it me? Was I just not worth it? Am I just a shitty writer, making too many mistakes for them to edit out?

I’m letting these self-deprecating thoughts slip through the surface, and though they don’t serve me in any way, I am thinking them and feeling them sucker punch me in the stomach. It hurts but maybe if I let it hurt for a bit, I can get the hell over it and pour more energy into trying to find something new.

I’ve realised a few things about feeling not good enough: you know the people we compare ourselves to? They compare themselves to other people, too. It’s something we all do and it’s human — it’s the desire to have what we don’t have, to achieve something more. But I want to be like Annie Lord, writing dating columns in such a breathtakingly gorgeous way you can feel everything she writes; I want to be like Michele Theil, writing really important pieces about race, sexuality and identity in ways you can understand it easily and learn something new; I want to be like Diyora Shadijanova, with work in gal-dem, Bustle, Cosmpolitan and so much more, writing about everything that’s important and paving a way for Muslim woman — just like Zesha Saleem, another amazing Muslim writer. Special mention to Mariam Khan, another Muslim iconic writer.

Our mind has the power to convince us that everything negative we think about ourselves is true. It can manipulate us into believing the worst things about ourselves, our work, our body. To give power to the darker thoughts is to drag yourself down a rabbit hole, thinking that there’s more wrong with you than right. And that simply isn’t true. We’ve all got flaws, but that doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with us. Okay, I’ve not gotten even half of the things I want in life but I am on my way there — I just need to keep persevering and trudging along, even when the storm comes. Because like Miley Cyrus said, it’s not about what’s waiting on the other side and it certainly isn’t about how fast you get there: it’s the climb. Sometimes you’re gonna have to lose, struggle and take chances. It’s important to not let any of it break you, because these are all the moments that add up and build you — and will build me — into someone better, stronger. With lessons, experiences, different dreams and hopes.

Because in the end, you’re all good enough, no matter what your mind is trying to tell you, no matter what you lose or what you face. And truth is, I am good enough, even without that job. And please remember to focus on your progress rather than perfection and on how far you’ve come rather than how far you have left to go.

Things I’ve written recently:

How To Take Care Of Yourself When You Have PCOS
The Best Scented Candles For A Relaxing Evening
Why I’m Over Comparing Myself To Instagram Models
My Mum Tracy Beaker: Let’s Talk About Justine Littlewood’s Storyline
Is There A Link Between Food And Fertility?
How To Bring Sex Back Into A Sexless Relationship
Are Aphrodisiacs Legit? How Food Can Improve Your Sex Life
15 Companies Offering Amazing Meals This Valentine’s Day
The Best Vegan Chocolate For Valentine’s Day 
Why It’s Important To Talk About Sex And Masturbation
I was taught to believe solo sex is a sin — but it’s not shameful 

If you enjoy my writing, feel free to support my work via Paypal or buy me a digital Ko-Fi. If you’d like to commission me for any work, please check out my portfolio.

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Sumaiya Ahmed is a freelance journalist and writer, aiming to break down the boundaries of cultural stigma and shame attached to mental health and sexuality within the South Asian culture, and bringing marginalised topics to light.

4 thoughts on “Dealing with feeling ‘not good enough’

  1. Now that was an honest reaction to an unpleasant event. Yes. You are enough. Pretty enough, good enough, clever enough … enough. Your writing is good enough too. I am glad you worked through that rejection. Rejection is never easy to handle and you shouldn’t beat yourself up. It is their loss. You gained an opening to tackle something else. You don’t have to achieve what society expects. You only have to do yóúr best for today. Not yesterday, not tomorrow. Only for today, only for your own peace of mind. If you can go to sleep knowing you did your best today, you will sleep well, because you accomplished something extraordinary – peace of mind.
    You are doing well. Keep going at a pace that suits you. Congratulations on all your successes!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a good, such a good post. I can relate to it so much and feel it so hard when you said your mind can convince you you’re not good enough when you know full well you are! ❤️
    Thank you for writing this Xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is definitely hard to deal with everything when those thoughts are there. I’m glad (I guess?) that you can relate — it’s always nice to know that nobody’s ever alone in something. Thank you for reading! xo

      Like

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