It stirred in me as I read Brene Brown’s, Rising Strong while on a CTA train to Chicago. In one of the chapters, she poses the question, what would happen if we chose to live life with the attitude that everyone is doing the best that they can? More recently, I came across a video talk by Marianne Williamson, who basically said that there is more substance in identifying with being like everyone else, (that we all have problems and insecurities), rather than our uniqueness. Sifting and meditating on these ideas, I kept coming back to one simple phrase:
We’re all human here.
It’s a common thread that binds us all, yet the one thread that seems to be ignored or forgotten the most.
I knew it before December, and desperately wanted to shout it from the rooftops. To tell anyone and everyone with eyes and ears. My God, I just want to feel like a human being again.
I have not felt that way since I was ten years old; aware of it, yes, but I never completely allowed my spirit to rest in it. And now here I am, worn out from being a perfectionist, like an amateur attempting (and failing) at a complex Russian ballet routine. I’ve been constantly trying to defy expectations, to prove that I’m capable and enough. And I don’t need to or want to. No one does.
It’s a relief and terrifying at a the same time, like putting a target on my back and challenging the world to take its best shot. Critics and outside observers will always look for a reason to pounce, and vulnerability is often one of them. It’s one of those things that has more questions than answers:
How do you love yourself where you’re at, while still striving to grow and improve?
How do you love without putting up walls?
How do you acknowledge reality without wallowing in it?
How do you move forward in a way that doesn’t turn into numbing/self-medication?
How do you show grace and extend forgiveness without feeling like you’re giving someone permission to hurt or take advantage of you?
But it’s not just about me; if I’m going to give myself permission to be human, I have to be able to do the same for those around me as well. When I read that chapter in “Rising,” I cringed because it sounded like such a bitch and a half to put into practice. A long time ago, my brother told me that people bullied and walked all over me because I allowed it, and so I developed a habit of fighting back (to the extreme) whenever I sensed anyone trying to do that. It is possible to set boundaries and still accept people for who they are.
I’ve been learning that it’s a lot easier to take something at face value than over-analyze and try to come up with stories to fill in the blanks. Distance and silence does not always mean that you or I have wronged someone else. It might have more to do with where that person is at and how they communicate. Regardless of what the truth of the matter is, none of us is responsible for the actions or choices of others. There is only so much anyone can give, and that goes both ways. Even the ones who created us, bore us, and raised us have their limits.
And as the saying goes, sometimes we expect certain thing from those we love, because we’re willing to do the same for them.
Not all battles are worth fighting, and they must be chosen wisely. Sometimes truth waits for opportunity, and being honest doesn’t mean that the circumstances will change and/or automatically get better.
On the other side, reality often trumps comfort, or at least it should. We may not want to hear it or acknowledge the pain, but if someone confides in you, consider it a blessing. We all need to vent at least once in a while, and will occasionally say things at the wrong time and without much of a filter. Don’t worry about solving problems and focus on listening and just being present Life is tough, and that’s exactly why every single one of us needs to quit running from it.
I can’t say that I’m going into the coming year with warm fuzzies in my heart and confetti in my eyes. I’d like to think that being human means to literally take things one day at a time, to balance intention with allowing myself to be shaped by faith, truth, and love. I stopped making resolutions years ago because I didn’t want to put my sense of joy and happiness onto a singular goal, or a list that in hindsight will be forgotten somewhere down the road.
I refuse to be afraid of my own humanity, of living and breathing and being. I will savor the good moments and grit my teeth through the bad. I choose to not necessarily set expectations, but be open to the possibilities.
For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.
-F. Scott Fitzgerald
Cheers to a new year, new blessings, and whatever it may bring.