I usually get a bit reflective around this time of year. Perhaps it’s my birthday coming up or the looming holidays. I guess it’s human nature, right? We see a big milestone lurking around the corner and go right into ‘evaluation mode’. We examine the past years’ performance by looking at what we’ve done or achieved and tally up the score hoping for a good grade. Well, good news. This year, it seems I might just be good enough. Yay?
I’m always pretty curious about how people make sense of the world and themselves in it. This is especially true in our fetish community. Having ‘come out’ to our fetish, we find ourselves in a world where many of us feel seen, possibly for the very first time. We put ourselves out there In a world cladded in leather and fetish gear, oozing with testosterone and which often promotes very specific ways of acting, looking and being. In such a world, it’s only natural to feel like you’re under a microscope, constantly trying to meet the expectations of others and do enough to feel welcomed, accepted and desired. It often feels that coming out to your fetish means coming into a world full of sensory stimuli, that cuts right to the core of your identity, making you constantly wonder “Am I good enough?”
Whether you choose to stay home or head out to an event, being part of this community means you choose to be visible – and remain constantly visible to others. Whether people are busy examining your online profile or your actual physical profile, that’s a lot of eyeballs checking you out, all the time. It’s easy to fall into a negative spiral of self-doubt, self-criticism and negative thinking: “Is my gear good enough? Am I good-looking enough? Am I sexy enough? Am I butch enough? Am I too butch? Am I thin enough? Am I muscular enough? Am I big enough? Am I too big? Am I experienced enough? Am I submissive enough? Am I dominant enough?Am I too old? Am I too young?” The questions never end, and so the answers never suffice. The comparisons to other people won’t end, and as such, neither will reaching the end of that endless journey, to feeling and being good enough.
“What does ‘good enough’ mean, anyway?”
A few weeks back, I ran a short poll on my Instagram account to figure out what the term ‘good enough’ meant for the people. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of people who responded and rather quickly realised just how controversial my question was. Some described feeling ‘good enough’ as an inner process leading to a place of wellness and acceptance. Others responded with more external references, describing it as feeling valued, understood, seen and validated by others. A few responded with vigour, almost taking offence to the question! What stood out to me were those who replied stating they didn’t know what feeling ‘good enough’ actually felt, or what it meant.
As a Coach, I often encounter this reply from people across all walks of life. Whether it’s with your fetish or in your relationships, at home or at work, most people have very little idea what being ‘good enough’ actually means for them. As such, that means they are far, far less likely to ever achieve it, let alone feel it! Setting yourself any goal or aim which is blurry and undefined leads to a blurry and undefined experience trying to achieve it. Whether it is, getting your next promotion at work or feeling ‘good enough’, a lack of definition means a lack of clear criteria for success or a clear path to get it. I first touched upon the idea of making your own definitions in a previous column. Simply put: if you have no idea what ‘good enough’ means to you, you ain’t ever gonna feel it or get it. Think of it this way: It’s tough to reach your designation using Waze or Maps if you don’t actually enter it into the app. You get to choose the destination. ‘Good enough?’ OK, let’s go.
Let’s start by defining what feeling ‘good’ means to you, in any specific context. Be it at work or at home, in your relationships or in the fetish community, this is when you first need to look inwards: What does feeling good mean to me? What does it feel like? What does it look like? What does it include or doesn’t include? Next, it’s time to look forward to your own, unique destination. What is ‘enough’? More specifically, what does ‘good+enough’ mean to me? Lastly, it’s important to set some criteria for success. When it comes to this journey, how would you even know you’ve actually arrived at your destination? It’s a tough question, but it needs an answer: How would I actually know I’m ‘good enough’? And who exactly am I being ‘good enough’ for – Is it for me, or for everyone else?
“At what point does the journey for inspiration become the pursuit of validation, leading to all but assimilation?”
Answering these questions requires us to do something pretty challenging which is listen to ourselves, first. It’s time to switch off the noise from all around you. While it’s natural to seek ideas and appreciation from those around you, at what point does the journey for inspiration become the pursuit of validation, leading to all but assimilation? Naturally, we all want to fit in. In our community, this means there are indeed certain values and norms which are accepted, especially when it comes to fetish. We would be naive to think that there aren’t certain expectations people around us have which meeting feels good. We want to look good to others. We want to be desired. We all want to make the grade. So we hand out report cards to everyone we meet, in hopes we all get that gold star, be it a Woof, a reply or a ‘like’ on a photo.
Think of it this way: For every guy who hits on you on Recon (Yay, I’m good enough!) they’ll always be a few guys who don’t respond (Fuck, I’m a failure.) The people you reference for your definition of self will keep changing. Expectations will keep changing. The community will keep changing. And while you too will change over time, you will remain the one constant in a world of constant stimuli and change. Wherever you want your journey to be ‘Good enough’ to take you, it’s always best to start by grounding yourself and your sense of self in what you know to be true, and feels good for you, first. It’s not just the destination that matters, but the long journey getting there.
This took me quite a bit of time to realise. If I spend most of my life catering to other people’s expectations, I believe I’ll feel ‘good enough’ if only I met them. Yet, that feeling is often fleeting and short-lived. As nice as that report card may feel, it exists only in your mind. Feeling good enough isn’t about Woofs, likes, flames or the amount of followers you have. It’s about a sense of inner accomplishment, and a journey that is defiantly my own. So am I good enough? After 42 chapters of my life (some going nowhere) I finally know where I’m headed. I know I’m good enough. And I know you are, too. Not that it matters what I, or anybody else thinks. What do you think? As I get ready to turn the page and write chapter 43 of my life, I’ve changed the question to a statement. I invite you to do the same. You’ll soon find that once you believe it and see it in you, others will too. And then, you might inspire them to set their unique course to feeling good enough, in their way. Let me ask you this:
What does being ‘good enough’ mean to you?
How would you know when you were ‘good enough’?
How might you approach things differently moving forward in your journey?