To the women who feel like they aren’t good enough,
I am writing this letter on the polished wood table at my mom’s house in Omaha. I am two burnt coffees deep, and honestly, I’m not quite sure what to say. This is the table I have cried at for countless hours with my mother over boys, grades and enough adolescent angst to fill any young adult novel section at a bookstore.
We have laughed with my best friends at this table, planned breakup texts, painted Easter eggs and watched horrible romantic comedy movies while eating Taco Bell on late school nights.
I wanted to write this letter and say all the things I wish someone would’ve said to me growing up about feminine wisdom and the power that comes with being a woman.
However, sitting at this table with so many memories woven into every fiber of the structure, all I see are flashes and moments of all the times I was told by the world that I wasn’t good enough because God decided to give me a period. I see the diets I’ve tried in futile attempts to starve myself into the perfect waif-like shape and all of the heartbreaks I’ve suffered at the hands of men who didn’t know how to cherish anything precious.
While this letter was supposed to be addressed to all of the boss babes, divas and queens of the world — all the power houses who live up to every feminist Beyonce anthem on Spotify — I am realizing those are not the women who need to hear the words I have.
This letter is addressed to all the shes, hers, theys and self-identifying women who have found themselves crying in a bathroom stall at one time or another. This is to all the girls sitting in their bedrooms hovering over a text back that never comes, to all the women who have driven countless hours screaming along to any number of Taylor Swift, Mitski and Phoebe Bridgers songs. This letter is to all the women who sit in the stark silence of their subconscious wondering why they aren’t good enough.
In a way, consider me the strange drunk girl in a bar bathroom ready to spit some bittersweet wisdom I've learned from a single mother who’s seen more life than most.
There will be times when the cold hands of loneliness and insecurity wrap themselves around your seemingly fragile heart. You will fall in and out of love throughout this life, and sometimes it will be every bit as magical as all the movies we’ve watched. Other times, however, it will decay and fall apart in a way that makes you want to crawl into a hole and never come back into the light again.
You will have moments when the world, in its pointless pursuit of the masculine, will tell you that you will never be good enough. The world will convince you to compare yourselves to other women and pick apart every aspect of yourselves in front of a mirror. Men will tell you that you’re overly emotional or difficult because you have opinions, and too many will mistake your kindness and nurturing spirit as a weakness.
If I could change the world for you I would, but I am just a fellow woman enduring similar obstacles. Just because the world may see weakness due to centuries of patriarchal rule does not mean the world is right.
You are strong in a way that many are not. You are paradigm shifters; you see the world in an honest way, and you roll with the punches. You are fighters not just for your own wants and needs, but also for the wants and needs of others.
When someone is threatened, you do not declare war and destruction as the only avenue to change. You take to the streets and apply lipstick in the reflections of cop cars with the infinite power of your conviction. You endure pain that feels as if it will never heal and write songs that make other broken hearts feel whole. You are creators with the innate ability to generate life in more aspects than just reproduction.
This power doesn’t come from a body part or an organ. It comes from the deep-seated aptitude to feel the world around you and dare to dream of a better one.
I know those moments of anguish can feel insurmountable — sometimes the tears fall in a way that seems like they will never stop. In those moments, let the tears fall. We cannot be strong all the time, and the water that falls from your eyes nourishes the ground to grow life that never would have been there without the courage to feel your own pain.
I can’t promise you will never feel powerless again. The earth will keep turning, and there will be moments where you feel everything else but good enough. The fear of inferiority will creep up, and there will be moments where you wonder if it’s even worth it to keep soldiering on.
However, I can promise those instances of self doubt are just brief moments in time. Eventually you will pick yourselves up and reclaim the shattered pieces of your heart. You will knit those broken shards back together into a more durable vestige and carry on in the world, making it a marvelously better place simply because you exist.
You are not just “good enough.” You are more than enough for the world and love and to me: a young writer at an old wood table in her mother’s house who sees you, knows what you are going through and cannot wait to see what you do in life.
A daughter, a sister and a friend