It was the kind of car ride you find wedged into the chorus of a Taylor Swift song. There’s no better way to say it than that.
We left the sun behind in Nashville. Dinner plates scraped clean of vegan tacos and mashed sweet potatoes— we left those too. Our car rolled through the hills of Chattanooga. The GPS on the dashboard told us 212 miles. There were 212 miles standing between us and home.
Earlier that morning, we’d held coffee in to-go cups and disappeared into Nashville for the day. We left emails unread and messages unsent. Tennessee is like a human fist. It grabs you tight and pulls you close.
We rolled the windows down on the highway on the way home. She turned the heat up— full blast, so that the hot air would push against our faces as our arms hung out the window. Ballads trickled through the speakers. It felt like Sara Bareilles was laying across the backseat with us, sipping a latte and making us brave. We rode that way for two hours, the windows down and screaming lyrics at the topic of our lungs. The night air whipped through our hair. I felt so young.
And if I scan back to the exact moment I pinned that car ride into my diary, I want to eventually be able to recite the words I wrote by heart:
Life, while crazy, demands breaks. And the countryside. And conversations that cut you into two but somehow make you closer as one. And little care for calorie counts. And the promise of stars.
Life, while crazy, is enough just like this.
There’s the word. Enough.
Even in just the three pages I filled in my diary this morning, the word “enough” was scribbled down 14 times. A word that is written down 14 times in your journal is a common theme; it’s something to pay attention to. And so the word is Enough. And the word last night was Enough. And the word, as of lately, is Enough.
I’ve struggled with that word. For years upon years, I’ve morphed “enough” into a conditional aspect of my life that is dictated by my circumstances and the people who surround me. If he thinks I am enough then I am enough. If she tells me I am enough then I am enough. If they validate me. If he calls. If she smiles when she greets me. I’ve been guilty of living a life that hinges itself on a series of “enough” moments throughout a day. I am just waiting to be emptied out enough to realize “enough” is not the sort of thing you can place into the hands of other people.
And “enough” grew fangs on the day social media raised up its arms and announced to the world, “I ain’t so social anymore. Me? Well, you’ve turned me into a ruler and a measuring cup and a benchmark for your life. You’ve morphed me into a flickering slideshow of other people’s highest moments.” And so I crop my own value. And I filter my own adequacies. And I ask myself bottomless little questions: Am I worthy like that? Am I pretty like that? Am I strong like that? Am I lovely like that?
But I don’t want to fight to be good enough. I’m sorry, I just don’t. I want to fight to make a difference. I want to fight to make it count. I want to fight to find you if you need to get found. But I don’t want to fight to be enough.
I spent too many years just like that. Like all the feelings I just wrote about above— all those questions— were ramped up high volume and taking steroids. I was desperate to just be told over and over again, “I like you just as you are. Don’t ever change.” I was desperate to find my value in what other people told me I was. And that’s because who I was didn’t make the cut. Who I was was constantly changing and morphing for the next guy. Who I was could change in 5 minutes. If you told me to be someone different, I would have listened to you. I would have swallowed hard and listened to you. Even if you and I never held hands or kissed cheeks or knocked knees beneath glass tables, I still would have wanted to be enough for you.
And don’t you know that scares me? Because if I am always trying to be enough for you and other people then I am always, always coming home empty to the those that I love. That’s like a strange WebMD side effect to searching for “enough” in other people: you start running on empty. You jump the unnecessary hurdles. You exhaust energies on people who you’ll never be enough for. Because the word “enough” is a myth of a concept when every morning starts with handing the world measuring cups and rulers and saying out loud to all the people you meet: measure me. Make me feel good enough. The world has never deserved your measuring cups. Keep them locked up and only give the tiny copper teaspoons to people who stand by you when life falls apart.
You want to be everything to everyone. Maybe I’m wrong but maybe I’m right about that. If you’re anything like me then you’ve traveled through the deserts of “I want to be everything to everyone.” Those deserts be barren. Those deserts be cold. But I’ve still tried to make the trip. I’ve still tried to go the stretch of distance to get to the other side of that hope. And I’m afraid to find I’ll miss the water— I’ll spend so much time in that desert that I’ll miss the water that kisses my feet when I get to the river of “I am one heck of a something to someone.” That water will feed you. That water will pour back into you. That water— the refreshment of being taken in by someone, just as you are— is a different sort of gift. I’d give my whole life to that. Because it’s lovely. And it’s worth it. And people write songs about it. And it fills you far more than the measuring cups of “enough.”
That moment— the one with the car and the music and the heat and the windows down on the highway— was the strongest sense of “enough” I’ve felt in a long time. There was no wrestling to be better. There were no tiny copper teaspoons. There was no need to wonder what you would have thought of me in that moment. It was just me and the road and my best friend and a break from reality.
It was just me being so content in that moment that I didn’t want to capture it and I didn’t want to filter it. I didn’t want to change a thing about myself. I just wanted to learn to live inside of it.