The theme of my thoughts over the last month has been one word: Enough.
Over the last thirty days, more often than not, I’ve found myself reminding myself, “You are enough.” Or, “You have enough.” The last weekend in June found me saying, “I’ve had enough.”
For so long in my life, I was always chasing the next thing. In fact, up until the last month, I didn’t feel as though there was enough in my life. I always was searching for something more, someone different or some other place. The moment was never enough for me. The present was never acceptable.
Last fall, I was sitting at breakfast with former Denver Broncos player, Rod Smith. Rod was incredibly successful in the NFL. He is though, perhaps, even more successful in retirement with his business enterprise. As we were chatting over coffee and breakfast, he looked at me and said, “Alicia, you are someone who is unsatisfied. You always want more. It drives you.” He said this after we talked about how I had 20 years of education under my belt and a good job, yet was not content with either.
At the time, in all honesty, I was motivated by Rod’s words. I wanted more at the time. I was not content with the things that were in my life at that moment. His words were powerful to me. I remember driving home later that morning and being energized by them. To me, his words signaled a message to me, that my discontentment could drive me to achieve anything.
I wish I could say that some really climatic thing happened in my life to realize that life–in this very moment, just how it is–is enough. As embarrassing as it is, though, I didn’t realize that my life is enough until I lost one of the things I was chasing the most. It wasn’t until I gave up chasing someone I wanted more than anything else that I realized that my life, just as it is, is enough.
That realization has made me realize, that at my core, this Alicia–who meets professional athletes, travels frequently, and gets to experience things she never imagined she would–is the same Alicia who grew up in humble beginnings. I’m the same person who loves being silly with friends, laughing until late in the night and hitting up local dive bars. I’ve realized that the people who find their way into my life and the moments I am given here on Earth are enough. I’ve come to know that while my appearance and clothing style may change with time, my heart is still the same. Every piece of this life that has followed me now for 29 years has been enough. Even when I thought that it wasn’t.
In my personal life, I serve as a national officer for my sorority. This weekend, we had a regional leadership conference, where collegiate members of the sorority were given leadership tools to place in their toolboxes. I visited with one of the chapters I work with this week as they painstakingly sat and told me everything they saw of themselves that they felt was wrong. “We are awkward communicators.” “We don’t get invited to parties.” “We aren’t social enough.” “Nobody knows who we are.”
At one point, I had three twenty-something-year-old women sitting in front of me crying. What they were really saying to me was, “We don’t think we are enough.” In that moment, all I wanted to do was hug each and every one of them and say, “You are enough. Every piece of you is special. You are perfect just the way you are.”
I think that sometimes in life, we get so caught up in perceptions and the chase, that we lose sight of who we truly are. We lose sight of the fact that each of us is created uniquely beautiful in a manner that is perfectly suited for us. We lose sight of the fact that our upbringing got us to where we are today. We lose sight of the fact that the people around us are there to guard our hearts and secure our dreams. We lose sight that in this very moment, we are enough. Just as we are.
When I look back at my life in its entirety, I see someone who was never satisfied with herself. In some regards, this may have been a good thing. My dissatisfaction pushed me to great heights. It made me incredibly competitive. In other regards, it was a bad thing. My dissatisfaction pushed me to unfortunate lows. It made me incredibly weak.
The heights that my dissatisfaction pushed me to took me to one of the country’s greatest engineering schools. There, I was the second female student body president in the school’s history. I was a cheerleader and an officer of my sorority. My dissatisfaction took me to law school and helped me graduate cum laude and land an editorial board position on the law review. My dissatisfaction landed me jobs with entertainment industry leaders. My dissatisfaction led me to launch RulingSports.com, which opened more doors than I ever could have imagined. These are the sunny things my dissatisfaction brought me.
At the same time, though, my dissatisfaction took me down some dark roads. Dissatisfaction led me to not accept my body the way God intended it to be. Dissatisfaction led me to years of battling an eating disorder and the emotional pain that comes after overcoming one. Dissatisfaction cost me three years of my life with a man who never appreciated me how he should. Dissatisfaction made me not appreciate the people who have always been by my side the way I should have appreciated them. Dissatisfaction led me to never really enjoy the moment, but rather, always wonder about what was next. For every blessing dissatisfaction brought me, it was accompanied by a curse. To sum it up, that curse was the belief that the way I was in any given moment wasn’t enough. I needed a better job. Or more money. Or nicer clothes. Or a skinnier body.
In two weeks, I’ll be moving to Miami to teach sports law at theUniversity of Miami. In all honesty, I never thought this is a job I would be able to attain. I think the interesting part about it, though, is that for once–finally–what I’m about to receive seems like enough. I plan to have breakfast with Rod before I leave. And I want to tell him, “Hey buddy, I’m content. I’m really, really happy right now. And it feels better than I ever could have imagined.”
Happiness is a long road. My journey has seen many highs and probably more lows. It was a personal journey, where now, looking back, I can fully see and understand why every single thing happened. Self-realization and awareness is a powerful thing. More powerful, though, is the realization that you–just as you are, in this very moment, is enough.