For most of my life I have never really thought I was good enough. I am pretty sure I didn’t feel this as a young child, but as I grew I can see now how the idea ballooned one breath at a time as so many different stories, circumstances, comparisons and measuring played out in my life. At some point this balloon of not feeling good enough became so big that I breathed myself into it. From inside, it was all I could see, so I thought it was the whole world, and every interaction I had with the world was felt through its rubbery walls.

Before I became aware of this ‘I am not enough’ balloon, I floated around in it oblivious to it but restricted in every way by its existence. The balloon was full of thoughts / stories / pictures / comparisons that I had collected over the years that would bounce around inside and colour every moment, every relationship, every interaction.

I’ve heard people talk about walls of protection that we build around ourselves and I always thought of them as stern, solid brick walls but I can see now that mine was made of rubber; it would stretch and move and accommodate the circumstance but it was always there – an invisible and seemingly impenetrable membrane through which I negotiated life.

With hindsight I can honestly say that existing within such a bubble feels suffocating, isolating and consuming, not to mention it’s bloody hard work.

Here’s the catch – despite the discomfort, it is familiar and so comfortable in its familiarity that it feels safer to live within it than live without it. It feels so much a part of me that it’s become my identity, which is convenient really as it offers wonderful excuses for something not working out over here or something not happening in life over there – there are pay offs.

I am tired of it though because despite the comfort it brings, if I am really honest, it’s exhausting and limiting to live with. But I can see it now, I can feel the struggle of it and most importantly I can see it for what it is – an accessory, a fabrication. If I created it then surely I can un-create it, right? Now that I can see it, I can observe how I move in and with it – not all the time mind you, but it tends to be exposed in those ouch moments of life when things don’t feel so great or run so smooth, especially if I am willing to admit I played a part and wasn’t a victim of circumstance or behaviour.

Seeing as I created it I get the feeling that this idea (or balloon) of not being good enough can only be dismantled from the inside out. No one can do it for you – I mean maybe we can be inspired if we see other people deflate, unpack and discard theirs but, in the end, we have to open those rubbery walls from the inside if we are to breathe clear air rather than the stale, recirculated air of containment.

For me my first breath of fresh air outside the balloon started with the possibility that I had an essence. I had listened to an audio presentation on getting to know your essence by Serge Benhayon where Serge suggests we all have an essence that it is complete, incorruptible and always there for us to connect to. It never leaves us because it is us – the most essential truth of who we are. As a concept it’s so simple and yet I found it difficult to fathom at first.

Imagine, just for a moment . . . "what if I was already everything?" Not just ‘enough’ but everything and not because I had lived up to expectations, achieved anything, performed, perfected, looked a certain way, wore the right clothes, said the right things, was born into the right family, got the right job, lived in the right city, drove the right car, married the right guy, had kids or not had kids, or because I had kept the status quo, become ‘something’ or done anything at all.

What if I am already everything just because I am? Straight and simple. What would that mean?

For a start I would probably cherish the fact, I would take care of myself, be gentler on myself, nurture myself and my body because it would hold value. As I did that then perhaps this self-regard would deepen and I would appreciate that my presence in the world actually means something – that I mean something. From inside the balloon these are radical and confronting ideas but the fresh air they offer is appealing after being self-contained for so long.

Now that I know this balloon is there, my intention is to deflate my rubbery prison one breath at a time, one observation at a time until eventually all that’s left to breathe is completely me.

I don’t know what that’s going to look like, I suspect it feels freeing to breathe clean, fresh air all the time; all I know is that there is now the possibility that I have an essence and in that I am everything I need to be. And, as I tend to that possibility rather than dismiss it, the feeling that it could be true is feeling much more a reality than a possibility.

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  • By Marian Lowe, Creative Director and Design Educator

  • Photography: Matt Paul