25
Jul
08

Measuring Enough

The question of enough haunts me. It seems to come up most often when I think about my work, my physical self, and me as a whole. Is the work I do good enough to meet my clients’ expectations? Am I physically strong enough to complete a race I’ve entered? On the whole, I wonder more often than I like if I’m enough.

I think we’ve been trained from childhood to debate, to measure if what we do is enough. I’m convinced it starts when we’re told we need to share our toys. As a child, it seems, as far as adults are concerned, that you can never share enough despite you perception that you’ve been patient long enough. Then as we get older, there’s the question of whether you’re working hard enough in school. Then, are those grades good enough to get you into college?

On the personal side, growing up becomes about degrees of cool. Are you cool enough for the in-crowd? Are you pretty enough to get asked out by the hot guy sitting in front of you?

We each have a different standard of what is enough, often influenced by the people in our lives, popular culture, and that internal voice that never seems to shut up. That’s part of what makes enough such a dangerous way to measure any aspect of our lives.

No one else is living your life, and yet we’re all too willing to allow someone else to to have undue influence on whether we’re doing enough. We’ve become particularly susceptible when we wonder about our physical appearance.

It’s not natural for women in there 20s and 30s to believe they “need” plastic surgery, Botox, or collagen. And yet, if we only measured ourselves by what we see in movies and television, men would be perfectly chiseled with well-defined abs, a hint of stubble, and perfectly streaked hair. If you’re a woman, you’d be a size four or smaller with no visible wrinkles, toned from head to toe, with perfect teeth. If you see either of these images in the mirror, lucky you. If you don’t, you’re not alone. You’re normal. But why isn’t that enough?

Beyond the physical, we raise the question of enough about our work, our personal relationships, our community status, and our material possessions. I wonder if we’ll ever reach the point of saying, “We’ve had enough of enough.” What if we switched our focus to the quality of the experience and measured its value based on whether we came out better as individuals on the other side?

One of these days I’ll figure out the balance and turn the voice off for good. Because, ultimately, the question of enough is a trap that keeps you from pursuing the things that matter most to you. Aren’t you ready to escape?

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1 Response to “Measuring Enough”


  1. July 29, 2008 at 9:38 am

    I think the drive to look perfect is partly a function of personality – some feel less pressure to do so than others. And none are wrong in the pressure they feel. What can be wrong is our response to any pressures, whether they are externally or internally generated.


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