Warning: Naughty language ahead!
In the last 15 months I’ve been learning to be human again.
Apprenticing with elephant journal this summer gave me a constant chance to put into practice all of that learning.
I practiced real, human vulnerability and it was amazing.
I was blessed with the chance to practice self-acceptance, faith, compassion, camaraderie, teamwork, humility, asking for help, helping others, love, patience, perseverance, flexibility and humor. I laughed at myself, I cheered myself on, I cheered others on, I opened up, I took risks and I got real.
I wanted to quit, I wanted to cry; I was afraid and I faced it.
My summer as an apprentice started off like my adolescence. I was scared, insecure and felt my ego trying to jump in and run the show as I observed my cocky thoughts coming into play.
I heard myself in my head saying how easy it was going to be, that I was going to kick ass at this apprenticeship, and “What are they going to teach me that I don’t already know anyways?!”
See, I don’t do well as a human and that is how I cover up my insecurities, as I am sure my fellow perfectionists can relate!
The difference these days is that I am mindful of this pattern and that it presents a cold-ass fearless, bitch to the world. While in reality I’m afraid of everything. A year-and-a-half ago I made a decision to change.
And that’s not me anymore.
That’s who I used to be.
That is still whom I have the potential of being at any given minute of any given day. Because no matter how “balanced” “healthy” or “well” we get, our darkness is still there.
That was my biggest practice of the summer. Being human.
Every time I had to put myself out there this summer with a piece of writing, it opened up a whole new window of feeling vulnerable.
Each time I received feedback on a piece, I had to breathe through the whole process of not feeling rejected, and not saying, “F*ck it I quit,” because the voice in my head was telling me I sucked. Or that, “They didn’t know what they were talking about, judging me and my writing.”
“She got the page I wanted? F*ck this.”
“They didn’t like my piece? F*ck them.”
“My post didn’t get reach? F*ck Facebook.”
It’s hilarious as I write it, but this really goes on in my head. That is me in all my darkest glory.
I would sit there, that sinking feeling creeping into my gut, my head whispering, “See it happened again. There is proof. You do suck.” Rejection. The feeling that has the potential to drag up every nasty petty human emotion I have the capacity to feel—resentment, jealousy, bitterness, anger, envy, insecurity, greed, self-preservation, the urge to run and quit, the urge to put up walls. It brings it all up. I am sick of that nasty little twinge of resentment that churns in my gut when someone else gets what I wanted or someone does better than me.
How can I want to cheer them on and resent them at the same time?
Oh the turmoil of denying my humanness.
I dislike it.
And it’s okay. And I found when I speak on it, I am not alone! We all go through it!
Feeling those things doesn’t make me ugly or weak—it makes me human.
It’s what I do with the feelings that counts.
And boy did I practice acting my way into better thinking.
I roll my eyes at my thoughts, and I talk back. Because no, I don’t suck. I am good enough. I am perfect as I am meant to be. I tell myself to give it a rest already.
And I find myself giving it a rest lately.
I found that darkness doesn’t disappear just because I live in the light now. It is always there and can surface at any given time. And that by denying its existence and trying to be some perfect saintlike zen being, I am doing an injustice to myself and to the world. I am denying my whole self.
And really, who am I to deny my humanness? Who do we think we are judging ourselves so harshly?
Oh right, I don’t know about you, but I can start thinking I’m God really quick.
Once I get over the initial bratty human reaction of feeling rejected and not good enough and I practiced acting better than I feel, I find I am actually happy for the feedback that will make me a better writer. I am happy for the person who is succeeding with their first piece. I find the practices becoming my natural state.
That is part of my nature and I must embrace it if I want to be whole. I must embrace that I am dark and I am light. I embrace the light, love and joy that make up my soul and so I must embrace the dark too. Because without it, I could not recognize the light.
We cannot know what we want to be if we don’t know what we already are.
To practice being a better human we must know from where we are starting. If we don’t acknowledge our whole, true natures we cannot have an honest starting point. We need a starting point to grow from like a flower needs a seed.
I can’t grow a beautiful garden without compost to fertilize it, and what is compost made of but waste—garbage. So I practice embracing and loving it all by turning my negative seeds into compost to water the positive.
Thank you elephant journal for the opportunity to practice fertilizing my own beautiful garden of humanness.
Bonus: Waylon with Reggie Ray: Learning to be Human.