Just the other day I was driving in my car listening to the radio and The Rolling Stones’ “Beast of Burden” came on. I have grown up hearing this song and am very familiar with it and the lyrics. But for some reason, this time I heard it the lyrics really spoke to me. Much of the song is questioning “Am I rich enough? Am I strong enough? Am I rough enough?” He asks questions like this several times and it was really making me think.
So, not to launch into some rant about self-esteem and ‘everybody is equal and wonderful,’ I did want to comment on this. Many songs, books, poems, and pictures are focused on whether or not one has reached this threshold of “enough.” What is enough anyways? And how has this term come to be how we judge and base ourselves? Why are we constantly wondering if we are enough?
Enough – the English dictionary defines it first as a determiner and pronoun with the definition, “as much or as many as required.” In my opinion, there are several issues with using this word as a self determiner with this definition. First, this definition implies that there are indeed “requirements.” That is fine if you are discussing whether you have enough units to graduate this semester. But when applying it as a self determiner, you are saying that there is a requirement for how thin, rich, strong, rough, etc. you are. While there are guidelines, there is no such requirement for these.
So, enough, we use it thoughtlessly to self determine value, appeal and worth. But I think this is a problem. This constant struggle to be something we aren’t currently leads me to question whether using terms like “enough” so thoughtlessly is to blame. With social media, (I have talked about my feelings about this in past posts), we are constantly bombarded by pictures of people who we have chosen to look up to, idolize, or become obsessed with. I follow several fitstagram people and I will admit that sometimes I judge myself with their bodies as the standard. This can also happen with feeling someone on social media has more shoes, a better social calendar, goes to more concerts, or travels more. We look at ourselves in relation to this person and use that self determining word “enough” to decide whether we are worst, just as good or better than the other person.
In the process of judging ourselves we are also judging the person we are comparing ourselves to. And then we do this over and over and over again. So much so that we begin to break down your self-esteem and feel insignificant. Because, regardless of who you are, there is always somebody who has more of something that you do. You may hold 100% of Apple’s shares and will never have to work or consider money again, but there is likely someone out there who has more of something that you desire than you do.
This process of determining our enough-ness breaks down our self-esteem and any ability we have to truly be appreciative. It also hard wires us to constantly be comparing ourselves and others and then making determinations and judgements based on those comparisons, regardless of whether they are fair or equal.
What should be done about this? Well, I would call for the elimination of enough from self determining vocabulary. I will not wonder if I am enough in anyway, instead I will view myself (perferably objectively) and ask myself if I am happy with how I am and if not, how I can work on improving myself so that I can be happy with how I am. Removing enough from our vocabulary may lead to less harsh judgements on ourselves and the feeling like we can’t measure up so we can lead happier lives.