I can’t describe the amount of pressure I feel to be a good ________.
I hold myself up against these invisible, made up standards, and more often than not I say to myself, “No, that’s not quite good enough.” I’m not doing enough or trying hard enough. I’m not showing up enough, educating myself enough, being active enough, sacrificing enough.
I know I’m not alone in this. Our culture pushes for us to be a good fill in the blank at every turn. It’s constantly asking us to be more, to be better, without allowing us the space to really connect to the motivation behind it all. And honestly, it’s absolutely impossible to be “good” at all of those things at once.
What if instead of trying to be a good fill in the blank, I was just me? Me in relationships. Me in business. Me as an advocate, ally, and activist. Imperfect in every single role, but striving along my own path and my own timeline.
What if instead of being “good,” I was simply a mindful, conscious human. Would that be enough?
My internal dialogue scoffs and says “Of course not. That won’t solve systemic oppression or dismantle the patriarchy or solve the climate crisis.” But that internal dialogue is learned. That’s conditioning.
My gut, my center of truth and internal compass, contradicts that dialogue. It says, “Of course. That’s all you can ever be.” It’s all I’ve ever been, I just didn’t think of it that way.
The metrics I’ve learned for measuring “goodness” are external. They’re demonstrations, performative actions compared against expectations that don’t belong to me. And they’re all different. There’s a different set of expectations for being a good friend as there are for being a good environmental activist. If a friend says something incorrect about climate, I have to choose which “good” I want to honor. My expectations for what it means to be a good friend tell me to make them feel comfortable at all costs. Meanwhile, my expectations for what it means to be a good environmentalist tell me to challenge and educate them so they can grow, to make both of us a little uncomfortable.
That’s the inherent contradiction of “goodness”: we can’t be good at everything at the same time. We have to choose which label to honor. We’re set up to fail from the start.
But being a mindful, conscious human has no metric. It can expand into eternity, allowing me space to continue learning and growing until my bones return to the soil. Rather than holding onto labels or expectations, I can simply figure out what’s most important to me and let that eb and flow through my life. In each situation, I can choose how to best honor my true self. It’s a choice to live in the grey area, to lean into myself above any manufactured expectations.
If I’m deciding to be a mindful, conscious human and a friend says something incorrect about climate, I can sit with my body in the moment and listen to my gut before deciding what I want to do. My decision will change depending on the person. If I feel like they will hear me, I might be completely honest and try to correct their statement. If I don’t feel safe revealing that much vulnerability with this person, or if they tend to get triggered, I might soften my language. Sometimes, I might choose to say nothing at all.
If that last option causes you to jump to judgement about me, or about my commitment to the environment, consider where that judgement is coming from. Is it because I’m not fitting into your expectation of what it means to be a good environmental activist? Where do those parameters come from?
My work is to honor myself as a conscious, mindful being and let go of the labels and expectations. My work is to listen to my body in the moment to decide what to do from myself, not from those outdated parameters handed to me from somewhere outside of myself.
I want to be a human who lives in the grey, not one who lets an external voice dictate her actions. I want to be fully myself, free of any expectations, labels, and blanks to be filled.