I’m not sure there’s a more insidious or personally destructive word in the English language than “enough”.
We’re bombarded with it, from all sides. I’m willing to make the claim that every pressure-y ad we encounter is really just playing off our feelings of whether or not we’re whatever enough. You want to sell me makeup? Make me wonder if I’m pretty enough. Weight loss bullshit? Skinny enough. Enough enough enough enough enough…
You dudes get it too. Are you man enough? Are you ripped/jacked enough? Are you tough enough, strong enough? Does your cock get hard enough?
And it works, doesn’t it? Because we all feel like there’s something we’re not enough of. It’s brilliant. And horrible. And fucking hard as shit to shake.
The idea of remedying whatever it is we’re lacking, if you’re anything like me, can border on obsessive very, very quickly. Because if you’re anything like me, you’ll look to the things in your life you wish were different and equate them to your own shortcomings. When I’ve had unreciprocated feelings for people in the past, for example, I’ve never thought it was just as simple as people feeling how they feel.
No. Of course not.
It’s because I’m not hot/feminine/funny/intriguing/sexy/thin/smart enough. It’s because I just can’t get the hang of the winged eyeliner I insist on wearing. It’s because I’m not exactly like Rachel McAdams in The Notebook (oh come on I can’t be the only person who thought Allie was fucking perfection). It’s because I am not, nor will I ever be, perfect.
And maybe that’s the thing that I find myself hung up on so frequently. The idea of being perfect enough. And even as I say it now it sounds absolutely insane because perfection isn’t a sliding scale. There is no such thing as perfect enough. It either is or isn’t. Perfection is a state. Perfect. Without flaw or blemish or skeleton hiding in a closet somewhere. As good as something could ever actually be.
I get it, you guys. I really do. Nobody’s perfect blah blah blah. But that never sinks in for me in a meaningful way.
The thing that’s most interesting about the word enough, though, is its definition (because I’m a nerd who looks things up like this at 1am when I’m writing):
occurring in such quantity, quality, or scope as to fully meet demands, needs, or expectations
What hits me the most about that is that “enough” doesn’t necessarily have to mean perfect. The example included with the definition was “enough food for everyone”. Really, the idea of enough at all is relative to our expectations. What “enough” food looks like depends completely on whether we’re trying to feed two people or twenty.
So… Who are we trying to feed? And why?
If left to my own devices, my expectations of myself aren’t all that high. I’ll easily go a day without putting a bit of makeup on, or a bra, or sometimes pants. When I’m alone I don’t mind looking like a mess. I don’t mind being a mess. I don’t give a fuck if I don’t put the laundry away or if I leave the litter box for the morning or cook a frozen pizza for breakfast and pick at it all day instead of cooking a meal like a goddamn adult.
I Just. Don’t. Care.
Why the fuck should I? No one is there. No one knows. I move on with my life the next day and it’s like it never happened. I don’t give a shit about my own opinion of myself. Maybe since it’s generally not that high of an opinion to begin with I know I can’t really disappoint myself in that way. I don’t expect myself to look ravishing every second. I don’t expect myself to have my shit together or be really on point and responsible all the time.
What that tells me is that it has very little to do with me, and more to do with throwing other people in the mix (ok, so maybe that one should have been a no brainer, but leave me alone). While my expectations of myself are pretty low, the second someone else is involved that all goes out the window because I’m so wrapped up in their perception of me and whether or not I’m meeting their expectations too.
A lot of those expectations are superficial, sure (I’m horrifically insecure but so is everyone about something so shut the fuck up). It isn’t limited to that, though. The closer we become, the more off the charts my expectations become. Am I emotionally available enough? Honest? Present? Transparent?
Am I valuable enough? Do I mean something to you?
The more people’s expectations you’re concerning yourself with, the harder it is going to be to meet those expectations, and the more inadequate you’re going to perpetually feel. And by you I mean me. Or you. I don’t remember. It’s not important.
I’ve heard so many older people in my life tell me that they became the happiest they’ve ever been when they stopped giving a fuck what other people think of them, and I envy that. I’m not sure how to pull that off. I have this nagging fear that if I stop living up to who I’m supposed to be, or if I fall below my expected value, that suddenly everyone will disappear.
I can see where it’s not all that realistic. And I can hear some annoying voice of reason reminding me that anyone I lost wouldn’t have been worth keeping in the first place. That if someone would leave because suddenly I’m not deep or beautiful or funny enough anymore, then fuck ’em, and yeah, sure, that’s true, but whatever. Ain’t nobody got time for your logic or reasoning right now.
Even Sweet Brown would tell me to make some time for this, though. To sit with myself, and look at myself, to find out what I’m really hungry for, and to make sure I’m the one who’s being fed.