When is Enough Truly Enough?


When is enough enough? For me, I just pray that moment will come. 

My self-worth has never been tied to my physical appearance. I “blossomed” much earlier than my peers and I always felt awkward, but far before that I knew I was different. I knew I didn’t think like other people. I knew I was not seeing the world isn’t he same way. I could never put my finger on it, but I knew the things that seemed to make them happy, things they appeared to enjoy, I wanted nothing to do with those things. 

I never understood parties, cliques, getting ready for dances with friends. I enjoyed reading books alone in my room, doing my homework, and pushing myself as hard as I could. Well….I didn’t so much enjoy it, but I needed it. I didn’t give myself a choice. There was no option. I set impossible standards for myself over and over again, continuously setting myself up for failure. I had an amazing ERA as a pitcher on my varsity softball team, but my nearly 4.0 GPA put me at just under the 50th percentile in my class. Not good enough.

I went off to college knowing I was going to have to work hard because I had slacked off my senior year of high school (read: finished all of my requirements early and only needed to take a math class my senior year….and I didn’t even need that, but I wanted to play softball in the Spring, so I had to fill my schedule with something). I did not have the financial support of many of the girls in my dorm suite. I was dead-set on being a Bio-Chemist and create new pharmaceuticals to help kids with autoimmune issues. My Freshman year I decided to take 19 units my first semester and then I needed to get a part time job so I could pay for my phone in my dorm room and incidentals like printer ink and tampons. I still didn’t understand parties. I stayed in on Friday nights doing homework and spent my weekends in the Botany lab making sure I knew everything there was to know. I took notes for other students to earn extra pocket money. I sent my mom pictures of slides I made. It was not enough. 

I dropped out after two months in to my second semester.

I was not exactly sure why, but I fell into a depression, an eating disorder, and therapy. I met an emotionally abusive boyfriend. I went to geology classes with my mom and helped her ace all of her tests that spring. Then came AmeriCorps.

I packed a suitcase and emptied my bank account. I flew to Georgia where I would be picked up at the airport by an incredible woman who I will always reguard myself as lucky to have encountered, though I knew none of that at the time. I had a year to complete 1750 hours of community service with a local Habitat for Humanity affiliate. I made sure I would never get back together with that abusive boyfriend via means I would not recommend to anybody. I went bowling in a bikini. I fell in to and eventually climbed back out of a massive wasting disorder that had me lose my periods. I volunteered my time at my church, teaching children’s choir. I met friends I will cherish forever. I ate exactly two meals out every month and the worst Mexican food I have ever tasted. I could have stayed there, but it wasn’t enough. I was looking for more.

I moved in with a friend in Rhonert Park, California and enrolled at Santa Rosa Junior College. I took a class with a professor I will never forget. He explained the first day of class that few people ever get an A in his course because they don’t put in the work to have the understanding of the subject matter to earn an A. I demolished that class, finishing my final in 45 minutes. Straight A’s. I still have those blue books to this day. It was never enough. I wasn’t even sure what would be enough…what that would look like.

I, again, dropped out of school just a month in to my second semester. I briefly pondered joining the military. Some jerk in my history class told me to not join the Marine Corps because it was way too hard. I joined the Marine Corps. Obviously. I blew the whistle on my recruiters. They rushed me off to boot camp, where I went to bed every night with a big ol grin on my face. I had found enough. I found the place where I could be pushed physically, mentally, and any other way you can imagine. I was achieving things I didn’t know I could. 

Fast forward 8.6 years. I was medically separated from the Marine Corps. I felt like I was back at square one. In the four years since my son was born, I finished my Bachelor’s, my Master’s, sat on a steering team for a local MOPS group, learned portrait photography, sewed myself an entire wardrobe many times over, renovated a bathroom, cared for and found homes for two liters of puppies, coached basketball, coached softball, learned the sport of wrestling, learned Zumba, tried my hand at making all of my families food including breads and crackers, been diagnosed with a seemingly endless barrage of diseases, and now here I am…breaking again…wondering where and when enough will come again. 

It is deeper this time, though. Silence has become piercingly painful. I need to be busy. I need to be learning more, I need to be quenched. I don’t know where that satiety exists. 

I had a moment this evening as I was getting ready for bed. My husband is out of town and the kids and the dog were sleeping. A thought popped in to my head…when am I going to be enough for myself?

All of these years, it was never about doing enough, achieving enough. I’ve been giving myself a pass, telling myself, “that’ll do for now,” but never truly feeling like I am measuring up. Why am I not testing more patterns, writing more blogs, creating more beautiful/engaging/dynamic digital art/photographs? Why am I sleeping instead of doing those things? Why have I not mastered and overtaken the world of sewing, fabric design, and pattern making in the three years I have been sewing? This is my headspace. This has always been my headspace. 

I have looked to God and everywhere else. I haven’t found answers. 

I will not apologize for my brokenness. I will continue to search for enough. I will now do so with a new lens, though. A lens where I am learning to remind myself that I am enough, that I always have been, that I always will be.

About arosephoto

I am a budding portrait photographer who spent the last 7 years as a photographer and journalist in the Marine Corps. I have always wanted to be a successful photographer outside of the Marine Corps, so I am giving it a go!

11 responses »

  1. Oh, Kelly, I love this so much. Thank you for letting us into your world. I see myself in so much of what you write, and had the same struggles that you speak of. Finding a balance, a deeper satisfaction is so hard, and fleeting in the world of social media. Sometimes I do too much (ok, a lot) and then I feel empty. So I’m right there with ya- trying to figure it out. Thanks for sharing.

    • Sarah you are amazing! I love that I have people who get it. I get that same empty feeling and it is why I end up overdoing it far too often. I need to fill back up. I need to be doing something, need to be contributing, need to be able to be competitive. If you ever wanna talk, or are just having a bad day, know I am always just a message away!!!! It really does feel better to know we’re not alone in this. <3 <3 <3

  2. You have my whole heart Kelly ❤️ I wish I could reach through this screen and give you a hug. I’ll keep you in my prayers because you deserve to feel peace. God knows you have always been enough

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