In an increasingly connected world full of carefully curated photos on social media and endless self-improvement schemes, “people are being told, in subtle ways, that they need to be and do more,” says Peggy Weber, an author and longtime journalist for the Catholic Recorder. The pressure is taking a significant toll. Along with increased feelings of discontent and inadequacy among Americans, the number of suicides among young adults in the U.S. is on the rise.
“More and more, I hear people worrying about whether they are doing enough, are achieving enough, or are even attractive enough,” Weber says. “It’s good to want to improve oneself, but it is bad if the world is holding up a measuring stick and telling you to measure up in a certain way.”
In her new book, Enough as You Are (Loyola Press), Weber draws on personal experiences with insecurity and despair to explore the repercussions of unrealistic expectations and self-doubt. She reflects on professional hardships as well as pressures related to motherhood and family life to reveal her journey toward discovering peace and self-acceptance. “I see this book as a reassuring hug to all readers during times when they might be hearing negative messages,” she says.
Essential on Weber’s path to hope was a strong sense of faith, and Enough as You Are is centered on the biblical promise of God’s love for his creation. Despite life’s challenges, the reassurance of an unwavering source of love can steer people away from unnecessary feelings of failure and inadequacy.
“If you firmly believe you are loved by God and made in God’s image and likeness, then you already have a solid base for believing you are enough as you are,” Weber says. “Secure in that love, you can frame your response to the world during difficult days and happy ones. The sense of being loved provides you with a North Star, a guiding light that keeps you on a steady course through turbulent times.”
Each chapter of Enough as You Are features inspirational stories from the lives of saints. For example, Weber describes the experiences of St. André Bessette, who became a saint in 2010, in a chapter titled “Smart Enough.” St. André studied at the Congregation of Holy Cross in Montreal, but after failing to excel in academics, he was not ordained. Instead, he became a porter at the college, where he also did laundry. Nevertheless, St. André became known as a great listener and healer. When he died in 1937, millions of people attended his funeral.
“He might not have been seen as smart enough, but he served God in his own way,” Weber says. “It reminds us that we all have gifts to share. The stories show concrete examples of the theme of each chapter, which sometimes introduces the reader to someone new or a new idea.”
Weber closes each chapter of Enough as You Are with guided prayers, questions intended for group discussion, and daily practices that can help improve self-esteem. One thing readers can do right away, Weber says, is look in a mirror and say aloud, “I am enough as I am.” Further, today’s hyperconnected society is not without benefits, Weber says. Readers can use the same positive self-affirmations to encourage others. “Whether it is with a phone call, a text, an email, or a conversation,” she says, “tell them you like them just the way they are, and you are grateful for them.”
Weber’s main objective is to show readers that feelings of self-doubt are universal and that recognizing this truth can lead to comfort and deep hope. “The book is for all people who have self-doubt,” she says. “They might fear they do not have enough, or are not smart enough or holy enough, or haven’t accomplished enough. Don’t fret—you are enough as you are.”