The grandkids are really happy almost all of the time and I think I know why. So far, nobody has told them they aren’t enough. No one has said they aren’t good enough, talented enough, smart enough, strong enough, popular enough…
I want to freeze time for them, lock in this moment when the reality of limitations isn’t even a concept yet. I want them to keep living in a world where they can believe anything about their own futures, never needing to question whether their dreams are possible. And, absolutely, I want them to continue believing that they can, without having to think about the person who told them they cannot.
It will happen someday, of course. I don’t know any adults who haven’t absorbed the idea, somewhere along the journey, that they aren’t enough. But, for my grandkids, I’m hoping we can postpone it for at least a few more years. The day you’re told you aren’t enough is the day your childhood ends.
When my daughters were young, I told them they could be anything they wanted to be when they grew up. There was a hidden asterisk in that assurance, since “anything” covers an awful lot of ground, but the premise was still sound. Whether they wanted to be Supreme Court justices or cheerleaders, there was a path for them to achieve their goals.
By the time we reach adulthood, we’ve been told we’re not enough in so many ways that we can doubt our potential even in areas where nobody has slapped us down yet. The sad fact of our rites of passage is that they tend to limit our view of what’s possible, narrowing our own sense of our selves and our potential. Sometimes, we look back on a path not taken and we think it was also a path we could not have taken, because we weren’t enough.
It's not true, though. We go through life once and we make choices every day about whether we’re going to have fries with that…or not. But making a choice today, or in high school, doesn’t preclude a different choice, a different direction, thirty or forty or fifty years later. The things we haven’t done before are not unavailable, just untried.
When we took up knitting instead of pottery, when we moved to the suburbs instead of the city, when we bought a Mac instead of a PC, these were choices, not a life sentence. Very often, older people will sigh that they always wanted to…something. Also very often, there’s nothing really stopping them from giving it a try today.
We do get stopped, though, held back by the view that we aren’t enough, not good/smart/talented enough to do whatever we haven’t done so far. Decades have passed, but we still allow ourselves to be controlled by someone, possibly a someone we don’t even remember, who told us we weren’t enough.
Maybe they were wrong, though. Maybe we were enough. Maybe we still are.
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Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.