Maybe I've Done Enough
I can’t scroll Facebook anymore without drowning in a tidal wave of advertisements.
Every third or fourth post on my timeline, it seems, is an advertisement that tells me I’m not doing enough. Apparently I need more comfortable shoes, a nicer winter coat, and whiter teeth. Also—this was made known to me just recently—my breath could use some work and I absolutely need the scraper that destroys oral biofilm. The boxers I wear are killing my testicles, so it’s time for an upgrade that defends against my phone’s radiation. I need bright socks that last longer, and I definitely could benefit from a few higher class shirts for weekend outings. The suit sale is ending TODAY, so I’ve got to ensure I hop on that before time runs out.
As I’m writing this post, I’m toggling between Facebook and the blog. I open an ad for men’s dress shirts. They’re $125 each, but 19X more breathable than cotton. A pop-up enters the middle of the screen — $10 credit!!! My options are to enter my e-mail or click a button that says, “I don’t want a discount.” Clever work there, Mr. Men’s Dress Shirt Site. Another ad somehow knows my facial hair is patchy at best, explains the chemical reasoning behind it, and promises to fill in my beard like Rogaine for the face.
Message received: I’ve got some work to do.
Here’s what’s so interesting about these advertisements: many of them are spot on. There’s a real temptation in my life to purchase most of the items listed above. Of course, Alexa, Siri and Google Whatshername know every single item I’ve ever looked at, bought, and merely thought about buying. Weirdly, I have no issues with this.
Where I get concerned, however, is when the feeling creeps in that maybe I need these things; maybe these ads are coming up because my wardrobe really isn’t strong enough. I need to look more professional. My half-beard is making me look like a child. So-and-so probably doesn’t like me because, well, Google’s right! I have bad breath and my teeth aren’t white enough. And the mind takes off…
You know what’s even crazier? I don’t need any help from Facebook establishing this mindset. I’ve always struggled with the mentality that what I do and who I am is never good enough. I make to-do lists on Saturdays and set mini-goals for Sundays. I measure my self-worth by how many books I’ve read or how well I delivered that speech at work. My self-esteem tank waxes and wanes depending on how frequently I get to the gym. I work really hard in my job and at home, doing my best to perform and so easily blurring the line between healthy accomplishment and vain attention-seeking or advancement.
This I’m not doing enough voice doesn’t originate from Facebook or because I grew up in a high-pressure environment. It’s something of my own creation entirely. The call is coming from inside the house.
I recently took a video of my sixth-month-old daughter giggling. She’s resting on Kendah’ls knees and getting pulled back and forth, to the left and right. There’s little coughs, giggles, and her tongue sticks out. Every time I watch it, I can feel myself smiling from ear to ear. I don’t need to try to love her and she doesn’t need to do anything to earn it. Then, at the very same time, I ignore the fact that I’m worthy of the same loving gaze from above.
As I scroll through the dress shirt and Beard-gaine ads, I realize the relevant measure isn’t whether or not I will purchase any of these products. I’m going to give the Beard-gaine a try, y’all. The issue, rather, is if I will choose to continue believing the stories these ads tell. The stories about the holes in my life, my wardrobe, my worth. The question, indeed, is whether I will propagate these myths or choose, courageously, to listen to a different voice.
And so, when I really need it, I lift up my head, turn on Sleeping at Last’s beautiful song Three, and soak in the words:
Maybe I’ve done enough
And your golden child grew up
Maybe this trophy isn’t real love
And with or without it
I’m good enough
Sing it again for the people in the back. Like me.