I’ve been considering recently the thought of not being enough, or of being too much, that seems to be at the root of what plagues human beings in their journeys of identity and relating to others.
We are constantly told that we are not enough. Entire empires have been built upon selling us the lie that we are not enough. Not pretty enough. Not fit enough. Not skinny enough. Not tanned enough. Not buff enough. Not straightened enough. Not glittered enough. Not volumised enough. Not straight-teethed enough. Not interesting enough. Not stylish enough. Not classy enough. Not funny enough. Not smart enough. Not well-spoken enough. Not exciting enough. Not quiet enough. Not busy enough. Not loud enough. Not successful enough. Not single enough. Not skilled enough. Not rich enough. Not popular enough. Not charitable enough. Not married enough. Not having-babies enough. Not employed enough. Not travelling enough. What are YOU not ‘…enough’?
Cosmetic companies, self-improvement websites, friends and family, TV and movies, glossed over celebrities, school curriculums, every day conversations…and ourselves, to be truthful, too, serve to let us know, consciously or not, that we are not enough. We can’t JUST blame ‘the media’ or cruel friends here: we so often let the voices infiltrate our minds and adopt them as our own.
They/we use the flip side, too, and that is: we are too much. Too complicated. Too fat. Too thin. Too much to handle. Too loud. Too difficult. Too intellectual. Too artsy. Too withdrawn. Too…whatever you want to fill that in with (I have found in writing this that I could spend about 15 minutes writing lists…I won’t insult you in making explicit all of these thoughts, I know you can make up your own, better version.) What are you ‘too…’?
You’re not enough. But you’re too much.
How do you feel about that?
Chances are you’ve been hit by most of those messages at some point in your life. A few weeks ago I was suddenly struck by the thought that the voice in my head so often tells me I’m not enough or I’m too much. Chances are hear that same voice. Chances are you can think of a lot of words to fill in the blanks of “not … enough” and “too …”. It’s why we buy so many beauty products. Why we spend hours thinking about what to say in a text to someone. Why we, inadvertently, maybe, put on a front at work. Why we relax when we’re on Facebook: we can pretend, there. It’s what we hear when we fuel eating disorders. What we hear when break up with someone. What we hear when we don’t get the job we’d like. What we hear when things don’t seem to be going the right way.
Don’t misunderstand me: I’m not saying we don’t need to work on stuff. If you’re in the habit of shouting over people in conversation, you probably are a little too loud. If you haven’t had a shower in 3 days, you probably are not clean enough. More seriously: if you’re never there for your friends, you need to work on that. If you sit on the couch all day, you probably should indeed get a job.
But I wish we (and I speak primarily to myself here) could grasp onto the truth that we, in our better moments, may glimpse…that we are ‘enough’ and not ‘too much’, we are good and strong and unique and valuable and beautiful. We don’t need to do things out of fear we’re not enough or we’re too much. We should do them because we’re enjoying the person we were made to be, and enjoying discovering what our purpose is; enjoying travelling to the never-ending extremities of the branch that we are…But before all of that, we are already enough.
What would change about our attitudes, our decisions, our relationships if we lived like we knew we were enough?
I am enough. You are enough. And enough is enough.