A few years ago I was in a hotel room with 3 other artist friends and I was crippled by comparison and “not enoughness”. I knew these friends as whole people – mothers and wives and artists with shortcomings and feelings of inadequacy of their own and yet, they seemed so much more together than I was. So much more at peace with their creative process. So much more on top of all the demands of being a working artist that are not actually making the art (so much computer stuff!)
I had always been the eternal optimist, the spontaneous adventurer, the maker of things just because it was fun and that version of me was little more than a whisper that I leaned in so hard to hear. I wanted to be in love with my life again.
“Just paint every day and everything will be fine” one said.
“You’re art isn’t cute enough to be licensed” another said. It was intended as a compliment.
“Stop comparing yourself to others. You ARE enough.” As if it were so easy. I knew it was only part of what was creating this constricted feeling in my heart.
I started paying closer attention to the people who seemed at peace with their creative processes and noticed that one common thing was that they repeated “I am enough” in some version or another over and over.
So I worked on that too. I read books that helped me know what it meant to be enough. I made ugly art for no one to see because that seemed to help other artists ease up on the self-imposed pressure to always create incredible art that was admired and sought after. I distanced myself from relationships where I didn’t feel wholly honored and I did my best to be more kind and supportive of others – even when I craved to tell the world how shockingly unkind they’d been to me.
And it all helped. I felt the truth of “I am enough” take root in my bones and I felt like if I just kept looking to the gurus and most together of the artists I knew, I would be able to glean from them the words and beingness that would keep me in the knowing of my enoughness.
But the problem was that knowing I am enough did not help me know how to balance my work load or choose which friendships to invest deeper in or how to pay the bills. I realized there was more to feeling satisfied in life than just creating different ways to repeat “I am enough”.
Enough is a measurement that is compared to NOT enough but the problem is that we, as creative beings, are new each day. The edges of our shape is always evolving and growing and expanding and what felt like being enough yesterday may feel restrictive tomorrow.
In enoughness fatigue, I only had energy to just do what felt fun and figure out how to feel like enough – for reals – later. And I discovered one very critical truth: just knowing you are enough is not enough. I had to actually invest my time and energy and love of life in what author Lynne Twist calls “the experience of sufficiency”. As I tuned into what my heart needed in those aching moments of “I suck/this sucks/it all sucks” I noticed little things that, as though by grace, proved to be the real “enough” for it was in attending to my heart through these things that deep satisfaction and sufficiency stood as unmistakable enoughness.
Even things I had previously dismissed because they didn’t fit in the “creative artist” paradigm I had previously held tight to showed up as answers to “what would feel really good right now?” (Turns out that the best advice someone has to offer who really seems to have it all together isn’t always what it the right move for me.)
All that to say, you can chase a lasting feeling of “enough” your whole life and still feel deep dissatisfaction. And, you can stop the chase, just for today, and instead devote your efforts to creating the experience of sufficiency.
Sufficiency is what enough FEELS like. It’s leaning back in your chair and rubbing your belly after a beautiful meal – in life. Experiencing sufficiency is how you know what enough really is for you and the best news I can give you is that you absolutely have the power to create the experience of sufficiency RIGHT NOW.
You don’t need to make more art or money or time first. You don’t need to dump bad relationships or set better resolutions first. (That will all evolve in time and in it’s own beautiful way.) You can feel what it truly means to know you are enough right now and, more importantly, that LIFE IS ENOUGH FOR YOU.
If you want to experience deeper satisfaction in your creative journey, I invite you to join me for a 12 week journey in The WholeheARTed Artist.