I was in 9th grade. A group of my friends and I sat around a lunch table, cracking jokes and having fun. I don’t remember what triggered it, but somehow the conversation turned to questions about how my parents had me.
If you’re new here, you may not know, but I am the daughter of two gay men that I am biologically related to. It has to do with sperm and eggs and a petri dish and then nine months later I popped out! It’s a long story, one I get into extensively in my book that is still brewing, but if I’ve piqued your interest, don’t worry the whole story will be out soon…
Back to high school.
A voice chimed in from the opposite end of the table, “So, was it, like, expensive for your parents to have you?”
I was a little bit shocked by the question. I am asked constantly how my parents conceived me. I am asked all kinds of questions about what it was like getting my period and who I talked to growing up about, “girl stuff.” And I love answering those questions and I’m always happy to and nothing is really too personal for me. The question didn’t shock me because I wasn’t offended by it, I just had never really thought about it. All the doctors’ visits and hormone shots galore. They had to have cost a pretty penny. But the truth was, I had no idea how much it cost for my parents to have me. I had never asked. It had never occurred to me. Have you ever asked your parents how much the hospital bill was when you were born?
I responded, “I guess it was expensive, but I don’t really know.”
Another girl sitting next to me followed-up with, “Well, were you worth it?”
Without thinking I answered, “I’d like to think so.”
Everyone laughed and we all went on with our days, but that exchange had me distracted all day and maybe even up until this point in my life. Was I worth it? No doubt it was expensive for my parents to have me and in addition to the monetary expense there came the exhaustion and time and energy it takes to be a parent. Even more than that my parents had faced discrimination as two gay men walking around in the early ‘90s with a baby. Was I worth all that?
I went home to my parents and told them what the girls at school had said. My Dads assured me that I was more than worth it. But still, while I believed they were telling the truth the thought stuck in my head and played over and over on repeat.
Am I worth it?
So, subconsciously I made a decision that day that I would need to prove my worth. I would go around working my butt off in school, and my extracurriculars. I needed to not only be a good daughter but the best daughter. Not just a solid friend, but an excellent one. Not only a straight-A student but an honest, respectful, and perfectly responsible one, too. I felt I needed to do more than everyone else because I had to prove that I was worth the money, time, energy, and more my parents put into having me.
I always thought I was just a perfectionist, but it went deeper than that. I always looked outside of myself to prove my worth. My worth needed to be quantified, counted and measured. My worth was something others could debate and that was bestowed upon me at their discretion. And then one day, not so long ago, I woke up and rolled out of bed and looked at a coaster that my Daddy had given me to place by my bedside so that it would be the first thing I would see every morning and the last thing I would see every night. It reads, “I am enough.”
While I had been using it to hold my water glasses and my tea mugs for years I hadn’t ever really stopped to look at it and see what that might mean. I thought back to the day my Daddy had given me that coaster. He had told me, “No matter what, Chelsea, please always remember that just waking up in the morning you are enough. I am afraid you forget that. Someone gave me this coaster, but I want to give it to you, just promise me you’ll always remember.” He started to tear up. I hugged him, took the coaster, and went on my way.
As someone that’s used to her Daddy getting a little emotional, I don’t think I registered what he was saying to me. I never really, truly read those words and thought about what the thoughts in my head might be doing to damage my psyche.
When I stopped to analyze this I decided to change the way I thought about myself. I am enough and no one else gets to tell me otherwise. I decide every day.
It occurred to me that while not everyone is likely to be in the same situation that I am, there are so many people that feel they are not enough. I mean there must be or they wouldn’t make coasters that said these things.
So, my hope is in sharing this, you will also start to remind yourself that you are worth it. If you don’t have a coaster take a post-it note and put it next to your bed, and put one in your bathroom, and one in your car and make it the background on your phone. In fact, if you want a phone background that looks pretty and says you are worth it, email me in the contact section of this website and I will send you a personalized one. I am here to remind you until you are ready to hear it. Don’t let it take ten years as it did for me. It doesn’t have to.
I developed this manifesto/mantra that I use in situations like these to remind myself what I know to be true even when I forget, I hope it helps you too.
We define our worth.
We approve of ourselves.
We choose what we identify as.
We are allowed to start over any time.
Don’t look out, look in.
Expect the best.
Breathe when things get tough.
Love immensely and deeply.
Yourself and others.
Have insane amounts of gratitude.
Laugh at yourself.
I love you. Happy Tuesday, Friends. XOXO, CAMDW