When “good” isn’t good enough

Do you ever get the feeling you’re not good enough?

Not successful enough? Not rich enough? Not achieved enough in your career? Not been a good enough parent or partner?

Because I get that. All the time.

I got a postcard from my mum today. She titled it “Bringing Home The Bacon” and put a note on the back, reminding me that it’s important to be ambitious but not to the point where you set yourself targets you can’t reach. She is wise.

Bringing home the baconStill.

I can’t seem to battle the feeling I’m not doing ENOUGH at the moment. Before Christmas, I blogged about my huge workload and battle to get everything done. I wrote last month about a lack of balance and shared recently that things have started to even out a bit. I’m working less and relaxing more.

Still.

There’s always a voice in my head that whispers “Do MORE!”. I feel like I should blog more, better. I should pitch more, to bigger publications, better. I should be actively seeking out more broadcasting work, touting myself more. I should be, just, well, BETTER.

A better mum, a better writer, a better presenter, a better wife. I look around my Twitter feed and see a string of successful people. Surely I can’t be the ONLY person to occasionally get a pang of career envy or mother envy or just, sheer self-doubt, as I kick myself for not trying harder?

I’ve always been this way. As a kid at school, I’d get an A grade and instantly feel cross with myself that it wasn’t an A*. Or at university, I’d write a piece for the student newspaper or do a stint of work experience at a radio station and feel dissatisfied. It wasn’t enough that I’d done something more than my studies, I would scold myself for not being the one student in the year to be picked out for a job before they’d even graduated.

I don’t think being a woman helps. I constantly question if I’m being a good enough mum to my toddler, if I’m around enough, if I give her enough attention and arrange enough one-to-one activities for her. I battle with a constant pile of laundry and unmade beds and dusty carpets, cross with myself that I haven’t stayed up an extra hour to get it all done. I know my husband doesn’t worry about these things.

And that takes me back to the being good enough issue – I’m not a good enough homemaker (or whatever we call it in the UK). Basically, I’m rubbish at housework.

The share it all society that we now live in doesn’t help particularly. I live in a world of Facebook and Twitter, emails and text messages. Not a day passes when another person’s success, big news, exciting project or motherhood win isn’t posted in my face. We are connected with so many people, so much of the time, that simple maths concludes we will regularly witness these kinds of triumphs. This is positive – of course it is – but it’s also negative, if you’re having a bad day. On days like these it can make you feel like a bit of a failure if you don’t have big news of your own to shout about.

On this occasion, I’ve decided to take my mum’s advice. Like I said, she is wise. I’m going to remain ambitious in every area of my life, but I’m going to be pleased and satisfied with the small wins too. I don’t think we shout enough about the small wins – the ORDINARY stuff. I need to start feeling successful again.

So, my small win of the day: I made a pancake without it breaking up into a mound of rubbery gunge. Granted, not IMMEDIATELY…

Rubbish PancakeBut I had it down to a tee after the fourth attempt.

What’s your ordinary win of the day? And do you ever feel like you’re not good enough? I know I can’t be the only one…

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Comments

  1. says

    I feel this way too often and my new year resolution is to be more positive about things. It tends to just creep up on you though when you are not looking! I made fab pancakes today and my toddler was testament to that by wolfing down 2!

    • says

      TWO?! You are a pancake LEGEND! It’s SO easy to get bogged down in the stuff we haven’t done and forget the stuff we have, isn’t it? I’m awful for doing that.

  2. Amy says

    I always feel inadequate. Never good enough at anything and like I should do more too. I work full time but its not a career so I always feel I’m letting my son down and myself down. Then I worry I work too much and don’t spend enough time with my son! There’s always something someone else can do or has done that I can’t. It’s definitely a woman thing. We never give ourselves a break! My mini triumph for the day is clearing my work load in time for my day off tomorrow!

    • says

      Hurrah! Well done on the triumph! While I’m not glad that you struggle too, I’m pleased to see I’m not the only one who feels like this. Maybe we need to start celebrating the ordinary more? I think so anyway.

  3. says

    This is a fantastic post. I constantly feel like I am not good enough. I push myself more than I should and I set unachievable goals. I rarely do housework during university term time because, quite frankly, I am shattered. Setting goals I can reach would help. I think it is in a woman’s nature to doubt ourselves. Highly frustrating. Sometimes it helps to look back on exactly what you have achieved and realise that you are already great!

    • says

      That’s BRILLIANT advice. Maybe I need to start listing the stuff I HAVE done alongside the stuff I haven’t. I’m awful for focusing on the negatives. x

  4. says

    Sounds familiar, but then again are the people in your Twitter feed really more successful and better? You are doing a cracking job juggling work and being a mum. Your little girl is absolutely gorgeous and do you know what. Pancakes are yummy, no matter if they’re served in one piece or twenty x

  5. says

    It is a constant struggle for me that I am not doing everything but I have to remind myself that at this point in my life it is best for me to be at home with my son and to hell with what others think, this is the right decision for me, now. When he is older I can start looking at other options. There will always be new opportunities and I am learning new things through doing a bit of blogging and writing. I feel like I have had a good day if we have laughed and done something together and we do achieve that most days!

  6. says

    I often feel like I’m not enough. I’ve found it helpful to accept that I can’t do everything and to find value in the smaller accomplishments (like your pancake). Tonight I cooked dinner – that was an accomplishment. Today I cuddled my poorly toddler and didn’t get much else done – biggest accomplishment. Hope you can find your peace. You’re definitely trying as hard as you can….maybe still doing too much?

  7. says

    This is so me but you are amazing and just need to remind yourself of your fabulousness ….. to be fair, I am in awe of the pancakes ….. I think I may need a frying pan rather than a wok! That’s my excuse and I am sticking to it!

  8. Helloitsgemma says

    Oh gosh Molly – you are amazing with a proper career/amazing job. My 20s was a fail. Sort of caught up in my 30s. Managed to left everything slide in my 40s. Never had ambition because there wast any point. For most of had a mother who was first to put the kibosh on everything and remind me of my fails. You have so much behind you – so much ahead of you. I think it’s a British female trait to not feel good enough. Try putting your fingers in your ears and shouting la la la when you hear such words in your head.

    • says

      I will. And I think you’re right about it being a British female trait. Just writing this post has made me realise I’m not the only one who feels like this. x

  9. says

    At least your pancake didn’t end up burnt and frazzled, like mine last year (yes, really, at the grand old age of 39 I had no idea how to do a pancake!). This years were better, but there’s still room for improvement….
    I’d say from what I know you are more than a good enough mum, you are a fantastic mum (sensory box?!). Am sure you’ve achieved way more in life than me but at some point you do have to just take a step back and be happy with what you’ve done, else really, what is the point?! Take a break and give yourself a break :) x

  10. says

    I used to feel exactly like this but tbh – so much has happened over the last few years that it’s put a lot into perspective. The day I accepted I will not be mega rich or famous was the day became much happier! I love my job, modest though it is, and i have my very own little family. good times. Just look at what you DO have hon, and what you’ve achieved. (With you on the house work though – I loath it and my house is always messy. Should’ve tidied tonight with OH being away. Instead spend all evening doing a painting for a friend. F it!) xx

  11. says

    hmmmmm, win of the day, not throwing myself or a child out of the window? does that count? i ma always pretty impressed if i make it to the end of the day thinking ‘ok, i don’t think i’ve scarred the kids too much today, WICKED! i am an ace mum!’ truth is, i give up now, we cannot please all the people all of the time. everyone IS different, and different for a reason. i live for the kids, and i work really hard and set myself really high targets at not shouting, or giving into rocking in that corner..;) and i try hard to push myslef at things around mothering, as that’s the most important aspect of my life. but i fail, miserably, a lot, and i thank god we get a new day every day we wake up to try again! i think you are fab from what i know of you and you should be a friend to yourself, get the balance, give over those triumphs that other people have accomplished, because i’m damn sure they look at you and see you in a light you don’t see yourself in. you are seeing their highlights, not their behind closed doors life, remember that.

    ooo i am on a roll now…! someone stop me…

    your mum is right. but then we always are aren’t we??!

    xxxx :) xxx

  12. Alison @ Not Another Mummy Blog says

    Oh my God Molly, I HEAR you. I feel the same way. It’s a constant plate spinning act and I feel like least one of my plates ( “being a mum” plate, “career” plate, “blogging” plate or “wife” plate ) is wobbling at any one time.

    As others have said, you appear to be doing it all very well. But then I think I give that impression too and I know it’s far from the truth.

    The solution? You’re right. Let’s start tweeting/instagramming/blogging the mundane/hard stuff. I’m not down with the woe is me type tweets/posts. But if we’re having a tough day, let’s say so.

    Hugs x

    • says

      You NEVER feel like this – really?! You’re right, you’re good at appearing to do it very well. You’re one of the people I think “Gosh she’s so successful, I need to do more and be more like Alison!” Just goes to show there’s always someone else who you think is doing it better, but when it comes down to it we all feel this way sometimes. I love the idea of regular snapshots of REAL life. Mine would be a pile of dirty laundry and muddy footprints on the floor. x

  13. says

    Molly hun, u can’t do it all. Something somewhere along the way has to give. Sometimes it will be work, sometimes kids, sometimes writing, sometimes OH. Its called life. Prioritise. The thing is about achieving is that its only you that’s really applying the pressure. Slow down a little. Enjoy the simple pleasures again. Then breathe. And then. Enjoy each thing u accomplish and accept this life for what it is: crazy! Step back and yourself again. Ps my pancakes were a disaster turned triumph too! X

  14. says

    Brilliant post Molly and one that so many people can relate to. I don’t know if it’s specifically a woman thing, or a mother thing, but I know hardly any women who would say they are proud and satisfied with what they achieve. It never feels like enough, does it? I feel this so acutely because my husband and I are at such different stages in our career. I’ve just done some work on both of our CVs, and he has 30 years of incredible jobs under his belt, whereas I’d only done 2 years of one job when I stopped to focus on family. Even though I KNOW there’s no point comparing the two of us, I can’t help it, and it makes me feel like I should be doing so much more than I am.

    Bleurgh.

    Well done on your pancake awesomeness! Xx

    • says

      You’re right, it really doesn’t! Massive bleurgh. I know all families are different, but I think there’s a majority of women who are torn as they tend to take time out from their careers to raise children, which isn’t always valued by wider society as a whole. It’s fine if you’re a celeb and already have a big public profile, or if you get a nanny and go back after 6 weeks, but for everyone else it’s like you lose time while others get on. And then you’re in that circle of feeling not a good enough mum / employee / business woman / whatever etc etc etc. Which is why I’m focusing on the pancake win! x

  15. says

    I think it’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking everyone else is living some kind of ideal homes, mother-of-the-year, high-flying, pinterest worthy kind of life, when in reality most of us are doing the best we can with what we have. I’m learning more and more that I’m not as rubbish as I thought I was, when compared to others – they are all muddling through in much the same slightly chaotic way.

    My goal for the year is not to try to do more, but to be more aware of what I do, and most especially of what I have. I am so aware, especially right now, of how lucky I am to have two precious, healthy children.

    My friend gave me a note a few months ago when I was floundering a bit. It said:

    Relax:
    You are enough
    You have enough
    You do enough

    xxxxxx

  16. says

    Pretty much all the time I feel like I am doing a little bit of everything badly. Instead of concentrating on doing less better. But I always have a million things on the go and sometimes it all boils over and I get super anxious and have a good cry! It’s really hard working, looking after children, running a house. Food shopping with toddlers is more of a stress to me than a meeting at work!
    People always tell me my expectations are too high but that is just the person I am and it sounds like thats you too. Stop and look at what you have achieved. Try not to compare, my whole blog is built on make our everyday life extra special, making ordinary feel extraordinary but it is still ordinary really! Much love xxx

    • says

      Never you?! But I’m always in awe of your blog and think, “THIS is the lady I want to be like!” So creative and everything looks so pretty. It’s actually quite nice to know that you feel this way too – there’s hope for the rest of us! x

  17. says

    Oh my gosh yes and I blog about this kind of thing a lot! I think I always struggled to feel ‘enough’ but since becoming a SAHM I feel it hugely. I’ve just started reading The Compassionate Mind by Paul Gilbert and it explains this as a result of our world being so competitive. We’re driven by comparison and so can always find others doing things better. I can’t stop raving about this book now, I really feel the world would be a happier place if everyone read it!

    • says

      I read your post recently about working and your possibilities for work as you decide what to do and my comment got eaten! I read it and nodded my head in agreement. Could SO relate. x

  18. says

    I totally agree with this – I always feel inadequate, likely unnecessarily, but it doesn’t feel that way to me. I completely agree that it’s exacerbated by constantly seeing how wonderfully some people seem to be doing (and that my husband just isn’t bothered by this kind of thing either). Food for thought!

    • says

      You know what? I think if more of us were open about feeling this way sometimes then we might not feel like we’re doing too badly! Bowled over by all the comments on this post from people in a similar situation. x

  19. Louise Whitaker says

    This is definitely how I feel a lot! You’re so right a lot of it is because you can see how well your friends and other people are doing, so you instantly compare yourself and wonder how they’ve done it and wish you could find out without sounding like you’re not happy for them!I also think your mum is wise about appreciating the smaller things in life.. I read something on my Twitter feed not long ago and it stayed with me. “Being grateful for what you have right now is the fastest way to happiness… Take a look around you. The best parts of your life could pass, if you are just counting on what is to come. Don’t let the search for the happy ending make you forget your happy life.” So true!! So busy waiting for the future to happen, “then I will be happy… When that happens, then I will be content” but makes you miss the little things! And its the little moments in life that make life BIG! :)

  20. says

    You know what they say, social media is everyone’s showreel- not real life!
    I do think it adds another challenge to our ability to be content where we are.
    I am on a constant “Try and Be more content bender”- at the moment this involves not looking at my blog stats- and it really works, bizarely!
    You are a fab mum, with an exciting career and an ace blog- I suspect so many people look at you as someone who they’d want to aspire to.
    What a funny old world, eh?!

    xx

  21. says

    Now this is why there’s a lot to be said for middle age. I shall never consider myself an adequate parent and shall always feel I should have made more of my career, but time and age make you realise that just about everyone feels the same way and that the greatest successes can often hide the most fragile egos. As far as kids are concerned, their mum (unless she does something criminally heinous) is always the best simply by dint of Being There.

  22. says

    It’s great being ambitious but I also think it’s so important to be able to switch off and be satisfied. Enjoy the simple things like muddy walks or playing a game with your daughter. Otherwise you can send yourself mad thinking that the grass is greener.

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