We’ve all felt it — that nagging feeling of comparison that hits like a ton of freaking bricks and causes you to take a panic assessment of your appearance/job/financial status just to make sure you are “enough” compared to those around you.
Maybe it’s that creeping feeling late at night when it’s just you, quiet and endless catastrophic thoughts about your life choices playing on repeat that make you question everything you’ve done up to this point.
This fear of not being enough is not unique to you. Unfortunately.
A recent study by the International Journal of Behavioral Science shows that 70% of millennials suffer from imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is a fear that you don’t have what it actually takes to get something done or to achieve success; it’s the belief that people will see through the facade you’ve created and realize that you are not enough for the job at hand.
The problem with this belief is that it is often not an evaluation of reality; it’s a version of self-doubt that is plaguing millennials at a higher rate than any previous generation.
And here is what you will read in every journal that talks about millennials, Gen Z, and self-doubt, or this constant question of “Am I enough?” — social media is the main culprit. Sure, social media has its dark moments and can certainly create this desperate need to compare our every moment to the highlight reels of someone else’s life. But I think the issue is much bigger than this.
The issue started with Eden, not Instagram
There is a reason why self-doubt and questioning our “enough-ness” is so prevalent in our society — it’s because deep down, we know we are not enough.
Stick with me here because I promise this will be inspirational.
Think about it this way: Two men live their lives and die naturally in their old age. The first man had a good job, a nice home and great clothes. He made his decisions based solely on what he wanted, not on how they impacted anyone else.
The second man had a decent job that put food on the table. Everything about him was average — job, clothes, car. You’d probably never follow him on Instagram. But he spent his spare time helping others. He didn’t devote a lot of time to nonprofits, but he gave the time he had in daily situations to anyone he came across who could use a hand.
Think about which of these people you’d rather be. I can almost guarantee that the majority of readers would choose the second man. It’s a no-brainer, right? He was clearly the better person because he cared about other people. He made an impact.
But we don’t actually think about ourselves in that same way. You see, we were created for a purpose larger than ourselves. We were never meant to be the center of our lives, but when humanity chose itself over God in the Garden of Eden, we started a vicious cycle of self-doubt that has been passed down from generation to generation.
Think about every moment of self-doubt you’ve had: You are always the center of the thought. Am I enough? Can I do this? Am I smart enough?
The reason why self-doubt is so pervasive is because on some level there is a terrifying truth to it. For 99.9% of us, we will never be the smartest one in the room. There will always be someone better and smarter out there than us. But that doesn’t negate the talents we have.
The question we should be asking instead of “Am I enough?” is really, “How can I benefit other people in this situation?” Better yet, “What are the talents and experience that I do possess that can help someone else in this situation?”
When we remove the focus from ourselves and how we stack up to instead look at how we can play a role in the greater good, the fear of not being enough slips to the back.
Because here is the fantastic news that you’ve waited the entire article for: you are exactly enough for where you are right now. And when you move to your next situation, you will be exactly enough for that, too.
Your “enough-ness” isn’t dependent on how much you know, what you look like or what you’ve experienced in life. It’s solely based on your willingness to lean into the collective goal of bringing good and love to the people around you. That is enough. And you are enough.