Myth: If you’re not _________ enough, people won’t like you…


I was listening to the song “You Are Enough” by Sleeping At Last on repeat this morning, and by the 5th time it played, Jayden was asleep in my arms and my eyes were filled with tears.  Here are the lyrics:

when we woke up
the world was figured out
beyond the beauty we’ve dreamt about.
this brilliant light is brighter than we’ve known,
without our darkness to prove it so.
still, we can’t help but to examine it,
to add our question marks to periods.
at the foot of our bed, we found an envelope…

“you are enough.”
these little words, somehow they’re changing us.
“you are enough.”
so we let our shadows fall away like dust.

when we grew up,
our shadows grew up too.
but they’re just old ghosts
that we grow attached to.
the tragic flaw is that they hide the truth

that you’re enough.
i promise you’re enough.
i promise you’re enough, i promise you.

“you are enough.”
these little words, somehow they’re changing us.
“you are enough,”
so we let our shadows fall away like dust.
“you are enough.”
these little words, somehow they’re changing us.
let it go, let it go, “you are enough.”
so we let our shadows fall away like dust.

In a world where it is easy to be defined by your talents, looks, abilities, and usefulness to others, Ryan O’ Neal penned these words beautifully.  It’s easy to take what the world thinks and impress that onto your own image of yourself.  From there it is a slippery slope, and the next step is to find our security and self-esteem based on this criteria.  We become commodities in a utilitarian world.

Brene Brown in Daring Greatly talked about this.  We believe that if we are not ______ enough, something bad will just happen to you…

What is your “______ enough?”

If you’re not beautiful enough, if you’re not talented enough, if you’re not smart enough, if you’re not dressed nice enough, if you’re not likable enough, if you’re not useful enough, if you’re not academically superior enough, if you’re not attractive enough, if you’re not muscular enough, if you’re not unique enough, if you’re not skinny enough, if you’re not manly enough, if you’re not strong enough… if you’re not good enough?

What do you do when you find out when you’re not enough?

What we fear will happen varies with each person, but for me, I feared that people will reject and dislike me.  Whatever it is for you, there may be a strong shame element to it if you’re identity and worth is involved.

And that is when we need to hear the message that “You’re enough,” that you’re worth loving, that you’re worth sacrificing for, that you are worth it…from the one who loves you.

Who is that for you?

Check out the song.


Myth: Talking about feelings only makes it worse — Awkwardness


This last Saturday, when my wife, Winnie, my son, Jayden, and I were eating our overpriced bacon-wrapped, BBQ turkey leg at the LA County Fair, there was a Radio Disney stage show going on next to our eating area.  The host of the show was a black guy, jamming it up with a DJ and their assistants, pumping up a crowd of 20 vivacious elementary school kids, and 10 junior high kids that were so excited that they forgot to be overly self-conscious.  As we watched the show progress, they even got the adults so railed up on stage that everyone forgot how old they were and were just having fun.

At one point, the host and the DJ were bantering back and forth on stage about what they do when they feel awkward, and the host said this:  “The trick to feeling awkward in social situations is to talk about how awkward you feel in that moment.”

Without a moment’s hesitation, the DJ quipped, “Yeah, but then, that would be the only thing I’d be talking about all day.”

When I heard that, I thought, “Wow, that’s an interesting way to deal with awkwardness.”  With most Asian people, it is taboo to talk about how awkward you feel.

I know this, because I use to and still sometimes do this.  There are some Asians who think that talking about awkward feelings will only make the situation worse – one might run the risk of embarrassing the other person for making you feel awkward, and then, you’d feel even more awkward for even saying anything.  The whole system just gets more and more complex, and things only get more awkward and more embarrassing as time goes on.

To them, awkwardness, embarrassment, and shame are all synonymous, and there is a heavy price to pay for being vulnerably direct with others; because sometimes it results in dishonor and people losing face.  So, practically, it’s easier to avoid unnecessary conflict by not talking about awkward feelings at all.  It’s easier to pretend like nothing is happening, sweep it underneath the carpet, and hope to God that it would go away.

However, I think there are consequences to living like this.  To me, avoiding awkwardness means…

·  Always playing it safe, anticipating and predicting every 

   scenario in life – which is impossible.
  ·  Having to look perfect, even when I’m scared, anxious,
   and falling apart inside.
·  Never disclosing how I truly feel, good or bad.
·  Living in isolation, learning not to trust, or care for

·  Avoiding intimate conversations with those I love.
·  Not believing I can rise above the uncertainties I fear

·  That I allow awkwardness to defeat me.

I’m convinced that the best thing anyone can do in awkward situations is to talk about the ginormous elephant in the room, and to be authentic about what they are feeling.

It’s like what Brene Brown says in her book, Daring Greatly, about shame:  “Shame derives its power from being unspeakable.  That’s why it loves perfectionists…If we cultivate enough awareness about shame to name it and speak to it, we’ve basically cut it off at the knees.  Shame hates having words wrapped around it.  If we speak shame, it begins to wither.  Just the way exposure to light was deadly for the gremlins, language and story bring light to shame and destroys it.”

I agree that if we put language to what we experience and begin to tell our stories, it sheds light into the darkness we fear so much.  For me, the darkness I’ve been trying to control, by avoiding awkwardness, is the rejection and hurt I believe that’s going to happen, if I ever allow myself to be vulnerable.  This belief had become an unyielding certainty for me, because deep down, I believed I was unlovable and unworthy.

Yet, in reality, the only certainty we have about awkwardness is that no one can ever avoid feeling awkward in life.  No one is exempt, and therefore, it levels the playing field for everyone, because awkwardness is ubiquitous.

My college professor, Jerry Root, says this to all his students:  “If you’re not feeling awkward in any area of your life, you’re simply not growing.”  I think that is awesome!  We can choose to see our awkwardness as inherent flaws and white-headed pimples that needs to be covered up, or we can see awkwardness as opportunities for growth, the birthplace of courage and transformation that will one day mold us into the people we were suppose to be.  The risk is up to us, but I believe we are braver than we think.

I invite you to share your comments, thoughts, and stories on the topic of awkwardness.  I would love to hear them!