This is a waste of time

In my master’s thesis, i look at one source of the shaming thought “i am not good enough.” That thought is a result of the normative pressure, especially on women, to couple. If we are not coupled, we are not quite complete, we are not good enough.

There is, apparently, another way to redeem ourselves, though, if we insist on remaining single. We can also prove our worthiness by becoming successful. How exactly success is measured depends on how counter-culture we are. The standard measure is the size of our bank account. Or at least our political influence. Though even that sometimes doesn’t hide our supposed flaw of not being coupled.

If we don’t subscribe to the cultural standard measure of success, we can still be successful – and prove our worthiness – if we change the world, if we have an impact. We are good enough if we can move a mountain. Or at least change a million minds.

I’ve been thinking a lot about these measures of our worthiness lately. It started when i uncovered that i was holding onto the belief that anything that i am doing is not valuable unless it makes a big splash. I started paying more attention because i have learned through my research on stereotypes that these kinds of beliefs don’t just appear magically. They are imprints from what i am learning by simply living in a culture. And this thinking seems to be embedded even in organizations that strive toward a different way of being. Some of our hard work is driven by the pain of seeing the world the way it is and wanting so desperately to change it toward something more compassionate, something more life-affirming. That task is huge and it is easy for us to despair. Or to drive ourselves to the point where we consider simply sitting on a porch a waste of time. We, too, have become human doings. Just being is a waste of time.

As i struggle to incorporate this into my own life, i notice how torn i feel. To accept being as good enough seems to include resignation. No matter how hard i work, i cannot change the world, so i might as well stop trying. And saying that i am changing the world by shifting from living as a human doing to living as a human being seems like an excuse for hiding that resignation. At the same time, that is what i long for: A world where we are good enough just for being born. A world where being is more important than doing.

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This is a waste of time — 1 Comment

  1. Rachel, this post hits the nail on the head! It is so in line with what I’ve been thinking for so long. I hate the phrases “What do you do for a living?” or “I have to make a living”. Why? Isn’t it enough that we are living? I know the reality that we need money to buy food and put a roof over our heads but it’s kind of messed up logic… A book that I read that totally brought this point home was Becoming Human by Jean Vanier. He talks about people with intellectual disabilities that he’s worked with that in his mind are worthy just as they are! Even though can’t do any of the things that our society deems makes us worthy. Thanks for this post. :)

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