If I could not do something, it just meant I was not good enough - yet. But, of course, I could be, if I just learned, and fought, and tried harder. If something happened, that I did not want to happen, it meant I did not plan enough, did not think hard enough. Next time I was to think harder and plan better.
Coming to the US, and subscribing to the American dream was such a natural extension of this philosophy that "everything can be done, the question is how". I suspect that many of you, my immigrant friends, are the same species – strivers and survivors, no matter what.
And yet no matter how hard we try, plan and fight, some things just happen. Children get sick, friends become strangers, loved ones die. Societies change, businesses fail, economies collapse. And thinking that it would all be perfect, if only I tried harder, if only I was enough, runs into its limit. Eventually. For some smarter ones, hopefully, faster than it did for me.
In many cultures families teach their children to accept the inevitable first, and only then strive for what can be influenced. Mine was clearly not one of them. In the end all of us learn to both strive and accept, but some have to live half the century first and come to utter emotional bankruptcy by trying to control the uncontrollable, by trying to be enough. And even then, accepting something intellectually is not quite the same as accepting it emotionally.
Well, I’ll never be enough. Never will be good enough, smart enough, resilient enough. Will never have enough energy for some things, enough courage for others. Will never be good enough for some people – my mom, for one. And I have to accept this not just intellectually, but emotionally. To be fine with it. To be happy as I am. To feel good enough as I am – warts and all.
And I just do not know how. Yet. But if I try hard enough, I can surely figure it out, right?