What Is Enough? How Do You Know When You Have "It"?

**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you choose to make a purchase.

Over a month ago was my birthday and I wrote a post On the Verge of 40. In it, I describe my feelings of insecurity, doubt, worry, and generally being unsure.  My vow was to focus on feeling that I am enough as I am.  I have actually, to my surprise, thought of this every day and tried to squash out those feelings of inadequacy whenever they pop up.  Or I've tried to figure what the root cause of what that feeling is and attempted to rectify it.  

I initially wanted to write a year-long series of posts: 52 Weeks of Enough, but I kept procrastinating and procrastinating.  Obviously, I never did it.  I think the reason why is that I am really unsure about what is enough.  How do you know when you have "it"?  

I looked up the definition in the dictionary and what I found was surprising.  The quantifier is "as to fully meet demands, needs, or expectations".  Well, that is fundamentally perplexing to me.  My expectations of myself are never met.  I can always do more, work harder, be a better "X".

Obviously, in certain areas of life, it is easier to pick out what enough means.  If your closet is brimming with clothes, shoes, and handbags, yet, you still feel the need (like I do) to buy more and more of those things, then you probably need to take a page of the Marie Kondo book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  I have not yet fully embraced the method in which you hold every item you own in a particular category and see if it brings you joy.  I have, however, gone through and given/thrown away bag after bag of clothes.  Why, then, do I still feel like I need more up to date clothes?  It's like being 16, with money burning a hole in your pocket, and wanting to go on a shopping spree.  What is particularly annoying is that I have immense guilt over some purchases I made in my 20's in which I thought I "must have" this Prada bag.  Did I need that bag - absolutely not - but I bought it anyway.

Fortunately, I have grown out of that phase of buying high end bags at every turn.  Clothes, on the other hand, I still feel pressure to buy more and buy more especially if there is a sale.  In Your Money or Your Life, the author goes through a series of 9 questions in which you figure out what your life energy rate of pay is.  So, if you earn $50K per year, commute 2 hours a day, pay someone to clean your house, take care of the yard, and do all of the other necessary things to pay for your home, then your real wage per hour is quite a bit less than $24/hour ($50K/52 weeks/40 hours).  It becomes more like $8/hour which is minimum wage.  Vicki Robin, the author, then proceeds to equate that with life energy.  The ultimate realization is supposed to be how much of your life energy do you really want to spend working just to pay for keeping up with the Jones'.  She makes a much better and more elaborate argument that is convincing.  In fact, that book in some ways spurred this questioning of what is enough.

My struggle, however, really lies in the fact that there are so many things I want to do in life and that I want to provide for my child.  I want her to be able to study French in Switzerland at 13 if she wants or if she wants to go to China and study Chinese or to send her on a summer-long teen tour through Europe.  That's not even including all of the summers I want her to spend at Camp Seafarer.  Then, there's what I want for John and I: time in Europe, more time in Asia, more time in the Caribbean.  Then, there's our oh so wonderful but almost hundred-year-old home.  We desperately need and want a serious landscaping revamp.  Plus, there are a million other things we want to update inside. 

Even just reading what I wrote, I feel bad about myself - entitled,  spoiled, and most certainly not enough.  So, is it that my expectations are too high? So, is it that I'm just a super spoiled white girl?  How does one reconcile that my generation has been told: "you can have it all" and "dream big" with your real expectations of life?   I guess it goes back to what I wrote over a year ago before we bought my dream home: "What Does Success Really Mean?".  The answer is whatever makes you happy and not everyone else.


No comments: