Since the moment I was born, though very loved, I received the very strong message from outsiders that I wasn’t enough. This message of inadequacy perpetuated itself throughout my life but was seeded by the first label: Ugly Duckling. You see, I was born to nearly perfect looking people. From an early age, I can recall the perplexed look of eyes scrutinizing my infant-self in disbelief. How could two gorgeous people create this odd-looking creature? In retrospect, I was probably a normal looking baby, but with standards set so high, how could I possibly satisfy anyone’s expectations?
Thankfully there was some counterbalance of reassurance that even if I wasn’t pretty enough, I had some likable qualities. My Dad still boasts that when they took me home from the hospital, I would try and set myself up on my elbows so I could survey my bedroom and see what was going on. I had personality and a hunger to get out into the world!
I learned to talk very early and would shock people who questioned if I was indeed a baby or a Little Person with no hair. Before I learned to walk I would dance the Twist if music was heard. Oh, and of course one of my more notable moments was when my parents woke to their three-year-old Jewish daughter playing Silent Night by ear on the little Emenee Organ that had bought me as a holiday gift.
Still, with all of these attractive qualities, not being physically beautiful was far more important to many who felt the need to let me know that I was lacking. It’s a strange planet we live on. I am fairly certain that my lack of beauty prompted my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Ashby, to resign me to the “not special enough” category in our class.
At the end of the school year, she put together a ceremony where she presented prizes to the children in the class: Smartest (a boy), Funniest (a boy), Most Popular (a Girl) and of course the coveted; Prettiest. Kerry, the now anointed Prettiest was presented her gift with an invitation to also sit on Mrs. Ashby’s lap! This gesture felt extremely creepy to me even as a young child, but I was jealous nonetheless.
After the prizes were presented, Mrs. Ashby revealed a table full of books for the rest of the class to choose from. A collective sigh and sniffles from those who were truly disappointed resounded. Of course, I, being a bookworm much preferred a book to a stupid doll, but my pride prevented me from letting Mrs. Ashby see me pick one out. That book taunted me from the table for over a week. When the last day of school was over, I ran back into the empty classroom to claim it and then proceeded to berate myself for decades to come for being so weak of character.
The label of “not enough” festered. I wasn’t pretty enough, I wasn’t tall enough. I wasn’t smart enough, special enough, sophisticated enough, cool enough, talented enough, thin enough, rich enough, Jewish enough, Christian enough, successful enough. I just wasn’t enough.
The messages got loud at times. My 10th-grade theater teacher Mrs. Fletcher immediately deflated my hope and dreams by warning me “You’re not pretty enough, so you should really consider an alternate career path.” As an adult, I can recognize that Kay, as she encouraged us to call her, was insecure about her own looks and abilities and therefore felt it necessary to crush the spirit of a 10th grader. Nonetheless, she scarred me.
I have also never been young enough either. I remember the day my Mom got a call from the casting director for the TV show Romper Room. I was certain that the light beaming through the kitchen windows was an angel watching over to experience my joy when I received word that I had been cast. I watched my Mom’s smile deflate as she said: “I see. There’s no wiggle room? Ok (sigh), thanks for letting us know.” I swear her eyes were misty when she told me that they loved me, but I had missed the age cutoff by a month. Of course, choosing to make entertainment my career further reinforced that at any age, I was always too old.
When I became an adult, I started to realize that while I continued to feel like I was never enough, most people around me were more concerned with not having enough.
Years ago, my husband Gian encountered an “almost billionaire” when Gian was hired to do some tech-work for him. I can safely say almost billionaire because interspersed with blatant flirting with me IN FRONT of my husband, he made a point of letting us know continually that he wasn’t quite a Billionaire, but he was close and wasn’t going to stop until he attained Billionaire Status. I couldn’t help myself and pointed out that it was a lot of pressure and if he DID become a Billionaire, he couldn’t actually spend any of his money because as soon as he did, he wouldn’t be a Billionaire anymore. I’m pretty certain I put him into a depression. We never did hear from him again.
Here is my secret desire; the only thing I have ever truly aspired to be is kind. I know, it’s lame. It’s not sexy and not enough to really matter in the world of cut-throat, ranking-based, judgmental existence that we live. All of us fall prey to ideals that are really only based on perspective. Seriously; what is success? To someone living in a box on the street, the person living in a car is successful–right? I, having toured the world with a fairly-famous rock musician am a star to an artist starting out. So if it’s only perspective and if a perspective can be shifted, aren’t we all, enough?
Honestly, I don’t aspire to be cool and although I’ve been told I AM cool, I honestly don’t care. I’m not wealthy or even financially comfortable, but somehow I live in a home that is one of my favorite places in the world, have traveled the world, have eaten in tremendously great restaurants and have some of the best friends anyone could ever hope for.
My husband believes I have the biggest heart–and that’s nothing to take lightly. And above and beyond it all, I’m quite confident that I am the best cat-mommy to ever grace the planet.
I am enough. So are you. Maybe someday if we all truly know that we are enough, we will have the capacity to accept one another even when we disagree. We will respect each other even when we don’t understand why we are the way we are. Maybe, just maybe, we can find peace within and that will truly radiate outside ourselves and that….that will be enough.
Even if I’m not enough I am still a very thankful person. Here’s a recent live-in-the-studio video we shot of my song “Thank You.”
Want to learn more about me? Go to my website: www.MarciGeller.com