Column by Taylor Grace Suiter, Senior from Brentwood, Tennessee
This summer I was sent to a women’s conference where leaders from across the country gathered to learn about authenticity, the power of validation and servant leadership.
I left feeling refreshed and reacquainted with myself. It was awesome – but one thing I saw has continued to bother me since leaving.
Throughout the weekend, attendees were encouraged to feature the conference’s hashtag, like any good organized event now has.
One of the most popular photo ops was a station with white boards saying “I am …” where one could fill in the blank with whatever they wanted and proudly take a picture.
The words people wrote were telling.
In fact, I felt that whatever word I picked would be so defining that I brooded over my choice until the very last minute. I picked “unconventional,” which is now funny because if it weren’t for a literal convention I wouldn’t be summing myself into a word with an Expo marker in the first place. I would be the one to unconsciously make a pun.
Lots of the women wrote, “a leader,” “confident,” “smart,” after the “I am …” But one message kept appearing on the board that just didn’t sit right with me.
The first word was no problem – in fact, proclaiming oneself as good has a powerful simplicity to it, if you ask me.
Goodness is an underrated quality, especially when words like “awesome” and “amazing” are tossed around like the rolls at Lambert’s.
The problem wasn’t “good” – no, not at all. The problem was the tragic combination that came from adding that second word.
I saw women holding signs that they themselves had written, saying, “I am good enough” over and over and I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.
Good enough for what? What’s wrong with good, period?
The false message that feeling “enough” is somehow empowering is everywhere – in Dove ads, in “You can be anything you want to be” ads, in well-meaning, but misguided confidence campaigns all over the Internet.
Telling a girl, or anyone, that they’re “good enough” implies that somehow they weren’t before.
Sorry, but being validated with a qualifier sounds like a qualified compliment.
I’m saddened to think that this was the message someone wrote for herself – especially after what I thought was an energizing and inspirational weekend of programming.
“Enough” is a softener, much like “just” or “maybe.”
The boldness of a statement gets slashed when one or more of these polite words is thrown into the mix.
“Enough” timidly excuses whatever brashness the rest of the words in a sentence could possibly convey.
It feels dangerous to make a statement an actual statement, especially when you’re a female.
The confidence that comes along with saying, “I am good” or “I am strong” is so definite that it feels scary.