I am getting better at this over time, but a couple years ago I remember feeling like a big fat failure a lot.
I know; that sounds dramatic, but I’m just being honest.
I felt like I wasn’t good enough, like I was often coming up short. Most of all, I felt like I was letting people down. Maybe you can relate? It seems like this is a female epidemic.
In a world where we women set the bar really high for ourselves, we are inevitably always going to “come up short” somewhere.
Relationships were and still are the area that I struggle with the most when it comes to this “not enough” issue. One of my most popular blog posts, The question that made me realize my stress was hurting my husband, sheds a little light on that.
But I’m not immune to this feeling of “not enough-ness” in other areas too.
Thoughts that frequently cross my mind:
My house is cute, but not as cute/white/minimal/effortlessly eclectic as hers.
My go-to salad I take to EVERY church potluck and get-together is pretty good, but not as amazing as her homemade pies.
My husband says he’s happy in our marriage, but I didn’t get him 25 gifts with little notes for every day of December leading up to Christmas like she did.
Everyone says I’m good at buying gifts for people, but I never make homemade things for people like she does. (And that surely must make my mother-in-law think I don’t care enough about her, right?)
My outfits aren’t horrid, but I cannot pull together something as cute as she does. (ALL the time, I might add. How do some people look cuter while working out than I do in REGULAR clothes?)
Can you relate?
Add all of these nutso thoughts in your head into one mixing bowl, and you have a recipe for not enough-ness that is sure to make you feel even worse about yourself.
This not enough-ness will cause you to either 1) try harder, which causes more stress, which makes you feel even worse because husbands hate when we’re super stressed, or 2) give up and scroll through FB, Instagram, or Pinterest, thereby turning up the dial on the not enough-ness so the voices of failure in your head are even louder.
Want to know a big part of why you feel like you’re failing at life?
As a Christian writer and life coach, my faith is intertwined into everything I do, so the first answer I could give is that you’re not relying on God or finding your identity in him.
That is true, but sometimes very true, faith-based statements like that are vague and don’t make everything magically better. (Usually hearing these obvious, simple statements makes me feel guilty and that I must be failing at my faith life when they don’t immediately fix my problem.)
So on top of the fact that our identity is in the Lord, let’s dig a little deeper.
Here’s an also-true, possibly more practical answer to why you feel like you’re failing:
You think everyone else is doing everything, and doing it WELL.
You probably don’t even realize you believe this, but your thoughts and feelings show that you do.
Because you look at the lives of your friends around you, in real life and on social media, and add up all the good things.
Fashion sense of friend #1 + cooking skills of friend #2 + faith life of friend #3 + marriage of friend #4 + craftiness of friend #5 + cute house of friend #6 = YOU. Well, it doesn’t equal you; you just wish it did, and that’s the problem.
You’ve added up everyone else’s “bests” and constructed an impossible standard for yourself.
Congratulations, you will never meet that standard and be that impossibly perfect woman. (I’m sure God gave you gifts, but he probably didn’t give you every single talent that exists.) In other words, you will always feel like a failure.
It’s easy to believe that everyone else is on their game in every area of their lives, but, honey, it just ain’t so.
Truth: Pretty much every woman is dropping the ball in some areas.
If you think there’s a woman who isn’t, who actually is amazing at everything, there are a couple possible explanations:
Explanation #1: Her life circumstances are way different than yours and allow her to have a lot more time or a lot of help or spend money on things that make life extra convenient, etc. Stop comparing yourself to her. That’s not fair to you or to your relationship with her to play the comparison game and compare apples to oranges.
Explanation #2: She is working herself like a crazy woman trying to keep up with and be good at everything. She, unfortunately, probably cries to her husband a lot or snaps at her kids because she’s so stressed out. Ooh, fun. It’s totally worth having constant stress or a crummy home life so that people on the outside are impressed with your life, right? Um . . . no. And God is definitely not impressed with our striving to impress other people with our fake perfection.
It makes sense now that you think about it, doesn’t it?
I know, most of us don’t realize this is what we do to ourselves, but we do, and sister, it’s time to rec-og-nize. Cut the guilt and not enough-ness.
I love what Christian author Jen Hatmaker shares about our failed quest for perfection in her latest book, For the Love:
What are the things you feel like you’re failing at sometimes? I told you some of mine. I’d love to hear yours below.
Now that you know a big part of the reason why you feel the way you do, take a quick moment, right now, to pray about them.
Some possible additional action steps:
- Unfollow strangers or old friends on social media who make you feel like you need to be something you’re not.
- Make a list of all your “shoulds” and failures; then look at the words and how silly they are. Pray about them; then rip up the paper and release them.
- Talk to someone you think you’re letting down—your husband who you don’t think you cook well enough for or your sister who you don’t think you call often enough. Ask them how they actually feel and if they would love more effort from you. (Usually they don’t, or they actually want love from you in a totally different way.)
I’ll close with a reminder from Pastor Craig Groeschel that brought me back to the heart of the issue and helped ground me in what truly matters:
I’m following Christ, who says I have nothing to prove. Everything that matters has been done already (John 19:30), taken care of by the only person who could live up to super high standards, our Lord.
God’s success on the cross = my success (eternal life). When I’m tempted to feel like a failure, I’m going to remind myself of that.