Enough: A #MHYALIT guest post by Katie H.
TLT is honored to present the following personal essay submission to the #MHYALIT series by Katie, a guest contributor and senior in high school.
On some days, when I feel inadequate, I write on my wrist in small letters, “enough,” reminding myself that I need not be any different than who I am in that exact moment. On other days, I get lost in the “to-do’s” and “should-be’s,” forgetting entirely that I am an imperfect being. I compare myself to others, trying to measure up to deeply ingrained societal expectations. In this thought, I dismiss the unconditional love and acceptance others have for me.
Upon examination, I realize that these thoughts are rooted in distortion–the distortion that I must meet certain benchmarks to prove my worthiness. Unconditional love is not based on inconsequential standards.
My sister, who scrambles out of the door to class in the morning, wearing her hair in a messy bun; who comes home late at night looking only for something to fill her exhausted body, bent between family and education, is enough.
My father, who works countless hours to provide a home for his family, ensuring that they have a quality of life that was better than his, is enough.
My mother, who raised two girls into adulthood, teaching lessons of compassion and self-expression rather than societal expectations; who traded the bottle for support groups after realizing that her disease had landed her in a place she did not want to be; who rode motorcycles for the thrill and studied flowers everyday; who felt that her mental illness disqualified her from being the mother, the wife, the friend who she was to others, was enough.
I didn’t fully comprehend this concept until the day I rushed home to find my sister’s eyes flooded with tears, and a policeman telling me that my mother had taken her own life. In that moment, I only wanted to hug her and tell her how much she meant to me. When I look back, I realize that every single one of her efforts was enough. From waking up in the morning with heavy eyelids, to sitting silently through meals and celebrations, to lifting only one finger because she had not enough energy for two, she was enough.
Love connected her to a world without standards. The illusion that my mother’s efforts were inadequate stole her from my life. Now, I crave her simple presence. I crave the way that her motherly hugs engulfed me with love. I crave her patience in the way that she willingly listened to my troubles. Though depression took the first person I ever knew, I gained an appreciation for the value of all individuals, including myself. I understand that each and every person navigates the world to the best of their abilities, and I need not compare one life to another.
A book that my sister has read to me several times states, “When a rose and a lotus are held side by side, is one more beautiful than the other?” Each person possesses an individual and unique beauty that connects them to the surrounding universe. In this statement, I remember that there is no one to compare myself to. I have learned to accept struggles, pain and happiness as a part of life.
About the author: Katie H. is an 18-year-old from Illinois who has a passion for music and writing. She plans to expand her understanding of human interactions through the study of Neuroscience as a freshman in college in the fall of 2016. She accredits much of her wisdom and strength to her older sister, Sara’s, love and guidance.
Filed under: #MHYALit
About Heather Booth
Heather Booth has worked in libraries since 2001 and am the author of Serving Teens Through Reader’s Advisory (ALA Editions, 2007) and the editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Servcies along with Karen Jensen.
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