How to Never Be Enough
So Sad Today is a never-ending existential crisis played out on Twitter in 140 characters or less. Its anonymous author has finally decided it's time to project her anxieties on a larger screen, starting with today's column on how to never be enough.
Illustration by Rob Corradetti
So Sad Today is a never-ending existential crisis played out in 140 characters or less. Its anonymous author has struggled with consciousness since long before the creation of the Twitter feed in 2012, and has finally decided the time has come to project her anxieties on a larger screen, in the form of a biweekly column on this website. The first installment offers some insight on how to never be enough.
Bringing a child into the world without its consent seems unethical. Leaving the womb just seems insane. The womb is nirvana. It's tripping in an eternal orb outside the time-space continuum. It's a warm, wet rave at the center of the earth, but you're the only raver. There's no weird New Age guide. There's no shitty techno. There's only you and the infinite.
I was born two weeks late, because I didn't want to leave the womb. When they finally kicked me out I was like, Oh, hell no. I've been trying to get back there ever since.
In the womb I felt like enough. Was I really? Feelings aren't facts, except they kind of are. If you feel shitty in a forest you're shitty. So, in a sense, feeling like enough is the same as being enough.
Day one on Earth I discovered how to not be enough. The doctor who delivered me said I was pretty. I wanted to believe him, because I love validation. Validation is my main bitch. But I was not the type of infant to absorb a compliment. Had I been verbal I would have extended a compliment in return so as to assuage the implicit guilt of my own existence rubbing up against praise. Instead, I created an external attribution.
An external attribution exists to make you feel shitty. It's a handy tool, wherein you perceive anything positive that happens to you as a mistake, subjective and/or never a result of your own goodness. Negative things, alternately, are the objective truth. And they're always your own fault.
The doctor's perspective was only an error of opinion. He obviously had shitty taste in babies. If he'd called me ugly I would have spent the remainder of my time in the hospital trying to convince him I was hot. But he liked me. There was definitely something wrong with him.
If you're never going to be enough, it's important to find a way to turn a compliment against yourself—to reconstruct it into a prison—which is precisely what I did. I decided I would have to stay pretty for the rest of my life. If I got ugly it would be my own fault. Don't drop the ball. Don't fuck it up. I was definitely going to fuck it up.
Next they put me in a room with, like, 20 other babies. Immediately I compared myself to all of them and lost. The other babies seemed pretty chill about being on Earth. They shit their diapers like no big deal. They just sort of effortlessly knew how to do existence. I, on the other hand, was a wreck about being alive. Why was I here? What did it all mean? Things weren't looking good.
My first day on Earth and I was already thinking about death. A lot. I was thinking about death enough to negate every future accomplishment, relationship, and thing that I might come to love with thoughts like what's the point? and why bother? At the same time, I couldn't come to terms with the fact that I was actually, definitely going to die one day, as this might lead to the realization that I might as well enjoy my one brief life, and who wants that.
The situation only got worse when my mother announced that she couldn't breastfeed. More precisely, she said I was "killing her." Killing your mother as an infant is proof of one's too-muchness. In the context of food and consumption, too-muchness is the same thing as not-enoughness.
One titty is too many and 1000 are never enough. What I really sought was a cosmic titty. I sought a titty so omniscient it could sate all my holes.
I was "killing" my mother, because I was sucking too hard. Less than 24 hours on the planet and I was already trying to fill my many insatiable internal holes with external stuff. I was trying to sate the existential fear of what the fuck is going on here with milk. I was sucking and sucking, but there wasn't enough milk. There would never be enough milk. One titty is too many and 1000 are never enough. What I really sought was a cosmic titty. I sought a titty so omniscient it could sate all my holes. The world was already not enough, and I, of course, was not enough either. They gave me a bottle.
As a result of all my sucking, I ended up in a higher weight percentile than my height percentile. This was problematic, because my mother had obese parents. She needed an object upon which to project her own anxieties. I was perfect for that! The religion of the household quickly became food: me not being allowed to have it and me sneaking it.
One of my favorite foods to sneak was me. In an attempt to be enough, I began to consume my own body parts. I ate my fingernails and toenails. I ate every single one. I liked to bite them off and play with them in my mouth, slide the delicious, calcium-rich half moons between my teeth until my gums bled. I tried to enjoy my own earwax, but earwax is an acquired taste. Later in life I became a connoisseur of my own vaginal secretions. The depth of range was astonishing. The vagina is always marinating something.
What I loved most, though, was to pick my nose and eat it. During story hour at school I created a "shield" with my left hand to cover my nose, so I could enjoy some private refreshment. Then I'd really get in there with the right hand. Some of my happiest childhood days were spent behind that handshield. I felt self-contained, satisfied, full on myself. The other kids knew what was up and they made fun of me, but I didn't care. The bliss was too profound.
Unfortunately, the bliss was not going to last forever. Let's be honest, the bliss was going to last 4 minutes or until my nose ran out of snot. But teachers, parents, if your kid is eating herself, you have to let her. Let your child devour herself whole. Even if she disappears completely, encourage her to vanish. Let your child eat the shit out of herself and then shit herself out. Let her eat that.
Not being enough is an art and it's important to start young. It's best to gain an early awareness of oneself as not enough in the world and practice practice practice. Some, like myself, are blessed from the get-go with the natural gift of emptiness. You might call us doom geniuses. But there are others who aren't so lucky.
For those of you who feel intrigued by the not-enough lifestyle but don't know where to begin, simply apply the principles exhibited by early, intuitive not-enoughers. Remember to always compare the way you feel inside to the way that others appear. Make repeated attempts to fill your spiritual holes with material bullshit. Ruminate on death daily, but not enough to change your life. If anything good happens, follow it immediately with a terrified thought. If anything bad happens, blame yourself. Eat your own body. Relive the tragedy of birth. Do this for your entire life.
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