Billions of dollars are spent every year convincing you of all the different things you need to be happy. You need this car, that house, this job, that address, this degree. The list goes on forever. And of course none of it is true. But we believe the narrative. We believe happiness comes from being more like the the happy people we see on tv and social media.
And in turn, we take that narrative and say things to ourselves like, “This volunteering and mentoring stuff is a good deal! Whenever I finally get ahead at work, I’ll make that happen.” or “I will take the time to get involved in my community as soon as _____ is done.” We have a lot of excuses and none of them are valid.
Because what we’re really afraid of is that maybe we’re not good enough. If it feels like I’m peering directly into your soul, it’s only because I’m speaking from first hand experience.
I spent many years avoiding doing the work I knew how to do because I felt like I was too much of a screwup in my own life to share anything of value with a kid. I thought I didn’t have any valuable lessons to share with a kid. I used to say to myself those very excuses that are invalid. I used to think I wasn’t cut out to be a mentor because, first of all, did I really know enough about life to help a kid out? I mean, look at all the mistakes I’ve made in my life. I couldn’t possibly have anything helpful to share with anyone. I believed the lie.
Some of the best advice I ever received was, “Just be faithful to people.” So all that time I spent believing that shameful lie that I really wasn’t good enough, I just did the best I could to be faithful to the kid I had committed to. Faith and belief kept me going while I worked it out. Belief in myself that I was indeed good enough to make it work and faith in a kid that no one else really thought was going to make it. And since life is not a sitcom, there wasn’t a special day towards the end of the episode where everything just came together neatly and I solved the mystery by 9:57 so that the news could come on at 10:00.
But, again, this isn’t about me and how I pretty much solved the world’s problems. (Because I haven’t….yet). This is about you and my encouragement to you:
You don’t need a different set of circumstances. You don’t need a different past. You do not need a special degree in social work. You do not need to be debt free and completely free of all the demons and/or bad decisions of your past. You don’t have to have your entire life figured out and wrapped up in a shiny package with a bow, and maybe a little jingly bell on it. Because you know, Martha Stewart would approve of putting a jingly bell on a gift.
You just need to be you. Show up and be there for a kid on a regular basis. Be faithful to them. Be yourself. Where you are in life is exactly where a kid in your community needs you to be right now. You Are Good Enough.