“You are enough.”
You’ve heard that before. It’s written all over planners and coffee mugs and Instagram stories, spoken from friend to friend during 1:00 a.m. FaceTime calls as one of them thinks about everything on their plate and the people they think are trying to satisfy.
“You are enough.”
Do you actually believe that?
If you do… in what way?
We are curious beings, and many of us never feel sated until we have a clear explanation for something. But why would I be enough? we ponder. How am I enough—I mean, just look at me right now!
It’s about where you derive worth from. We are creative, and people choose so many different places to extract worth from, regardless of how healthy and sustainable their choices actually are.
If you say you derive it from existence… do you really hold fast to that all the time? Do you actively believe that you are enough yourself on the days you do nothing but breathe? Do you think the worst criminals are valuable? If you derive it from success, where is the threshold—a certain number of zeros in your salary?
So many people, whether they admit it or not, derive worth from success. It's easy to do. Well, what is success? Answer that question in your mind. What do you, even if you don’t want to, define success as?
The threshold is impossible to define because as people get closer to that promotion or big house by the beach, they get uncomfortable and push the bar higher because that’s all they’ve ever known. What would life be without the chase? Nothing, they say as they grit their teeth, numbing themselves to the weight on their backs to shove through another day.
But what happens when the chase halts?
I think the phrase “you are enough” can create a few problems. Sometimes, people let the words sink in at a crooked angle. I. am. enough. I. can. do. anything.
so why can’t I handle this right now?
People can translate “enough” into “Number-1 at-all-times.” It’s exhausting for them. They pour themselves into cycles of more and more effort because, well, they’re enough, they have enough in them, surely they can do it! And they are good enough for any college, any job, any person, anything, so… why is all of the hard work so draining?
Some people don’t want to be enough. They want to be more than enough. They see the word as a cap, a limit, a dampener on what they think they should be bringing to the table. They see “enough” as an evil to be overcome through hard work and “success." I’m just… enough?
Almost every teenager frequents the term “existential crisis.” It’s tacked onto who we are right now. And so when we hear that we are enough, we can get frustrated. Okay, I get it, I get it, I’m enough! But who am I? Who is it that is enough?
There is nothing to worry about if you aren’t sure who you are. If you knew perfectly already, there probably wouldn’t be great depth to you, would there?
You’re probably wondering what I think “you are enough” means. That’s a good question, and my constant mulling over it is one of the reasons why I am writing this.
I think it means that by just breathing, you are valuable. That every day you live, you are meant to be here. That happiness-by-success is a mirage and that exactly where you sit right now is where contentment is found. It isn’t something you must run to—I believe it is something you must sink into. Life is too short to throw worth so incredibly far in the distance and spend your few days on Earth painfully crawling toward it. Instead, I believe that every new day is a celebration of being alive and that—that is enough. I don't have enough time on Earth to believe otherwise. I believe love is a more valuable currency than money and that if you know that your every breath is priceless, you will treat other people better because you believe the same thing about them.
Back to the hypothetical “are you calling the worst criminals valuable?” question. Valuable does not necessarily mean good. Valuable does not mean “a helpful asset to society.” In my eyes, “valuable” is just synonymous with human. I believe it equates to the potential for good, and so it is a deep shame and a thing to grieve over when we humans do awful things.
I’m not saying that everyone is “good enough” to do every single thing. We just can’t check every single box that we want to in one lifetime, we make mistakes, we mess up, we're not God, we just can't. But... if you really think about it... there is some peace in that. The hungry pursuit for perfection slowly slides from your taunt fingers and you are free to relax them, to use them creatively, and to hold tightly to the gift of the present.
I just want to say—enough. Enough trying to prove your worth to other people and yourself. Enough constantly evaluating yourself to ensure that today you’re as worthy as you were yesterday. Enough pretending like someday you’ll be valuable only if you’re “successful.”
Ambition is fantastic. Healthy interests and passions are things to be celebrated, cultivated, and pursued. Just not like your worth depends on them.
You are everything right now. You will never be any more. You will think and feel and act differently someday, perhaps even in a better way, but you are you and that is final. Nothing can add or subtract to you. Not a degree, not a paycheck, not a spouse, not an award, not beauty, not a title, nothing. They are murky illusions of the true worth that you've always, and will always, have.
You have growing to do—all of us do. But that you who grows will be the same forever, so please be kind to yourself and become good friends with you.
Do I think you are enough?
Of course I do! I know you are enough! There isn’t a moment that passes by, an action you take, a mistake you make, an award you receive, that takes away from or adds to your value.
Maybe not everyone agrees with me. I know it is hard to believe for yourself. No matter what you believe, take some time today to be as still as you can and realize that the world isn't a hamster wheel that stops spinning when you stop running.
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