We start today’s blog with a fill-in-the blank. Play along:
I will _______ when I ______.
The possible combinations seem endless. I will run a half marathon when I lose 10 pounds. I will sign up for a 5K when I quit smoking. I will be happy when I get married. I will feel fulfilled when I find a new job. Oh, I could play this game for hours.
It’s popular in some circles to rail against the instant gratification culture, the “me want now” messages that breed a sense of entitlement into our lives. There’s a sense that an emphasis on self-esteem has eroded our ability to critique, to grow, to improve. After all, how do you learn to appreciate anything in life if everything you do is considered swell?
But delayed gratification has its drawbacks, too. If we’re constantly waiting for something to happen first before we get on with something else, well then, we’ve put ourselves in a constant holding patter. We’re waiting for life to start when actually, life is continuously in motion. We deny who we are, who we are called to be, because we feel we need to accomplish something first. We need to earn it.
Somewhere between instant and delayed gratification is the land where I want to live. There’s a good feeling which comes from working, challenging myself and feeling as though I’ve “earned” and achieved a goal — whether it’s dropping some extra weight, finishing a race or cleaning up my kitchen. But there’s also an important part in knowing that I am already enough, just as I am. I don’t need to do anything to be worthy of love or happiness.
I thought of this when my friend Mary shared a photo on Facebook. I’m already good enough. I am where I need to be. It’s up to me to see that and then let my next steps, my actions and challenges and chances, follow from there.