I am busy. My days burst with learning, teaching, creating, building, and connecting. Every day I return to bed aching from exhaustion.
I should, by all accounts, feel fulfilled. But I don’t.
I become more involved in my synagogue community as a lay leader. My Hebrew school students grow to know more and more about the Torah and its language. The nascent creative community at my school’s Hillel that I am beginning to build is taking shape. And yet. I tell myself all of that isn’t enough. That I have to do more. I’m not satisfied. There has to be something else. More to strive towards. An ultimate finish line. I’m not doing enough.
I’m not doing enough.
I know that I’ll never feel that I actually am doing enough. At least not while I also feel that I myself am not enough. That I am a failure.
This part of me tells me initiating programming isn’t enough. I have to attend every event that interests me and take every opportunity I am given to participate or lead in my community. This part of me screeches that my students are not learning enough Hebrew and I am not learning enough Gemara or math. That I do not make enough time in my bursting days to read novels and memoirs and poetry and feminist theory and op-eds. This part of me tells me that because I have room to grow, I am failing.
I am not always a good teacher. I am not always a good student. I am not always a good citizen or activist. I am not always a good Orthodox Jew. I am not always a good writer or artist or creator. I am not always a good friend, sister, daughter, or partner.
And I’m finally learning that that’s okay.
I am allowed to have room to grow, potential to nurture. I don’t have to be my best self all the time. I’m allowed to mess up, to make mistakes. Even to fail. I can and should take a step back. I’m allowed to have days where all I do is binge-watch a season of Brooklyn Nine Nine, do math homework, or mindlessly scroll through my news feed.
But I struggle.
Even on the days when I believe I am doing the damned best I can, guilt and resentment trickle down my spine because I still feel I am not doing enough. Anger at my lazy, unmotivated self catches under my fingernails. Frustration sticks to the bottom of my feet.
And yet. I’ve come to realize my doubts and self-loathing are integral. If I felt satisfied with the communities in which I participate, my lesson plans, my writing, my identity as a woman living in 2018, I would not push myself out of bed in the morning. I would not push myself out the door and down the stairs.
Which terrifies me, because I know that the nature of fulfillment is that it is never quite attainable. It will always push itself out of my reach just as I begin to brush my fingers against it. I may grow more frustrated with each would-be success, but that’s the way it is: once I finish one project, another will spring up to take its place.
On the days when I am less frustrated, I try to be grateful. I try to be present. I try to focus on building and creating my communities, instead of questioning and doubting my abilities. I try to feel that I am enough, that I am doing the best that I can.
I hope and I pray that I will succeed.