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I’m fascinated by human behaviour and can’t get enough of the wonders of the human experience.
I love emotions and thinking patterns, our stories, and our authentic truths. I love how we work—our idiosyncrasies, our responses to life, the ways in which we each make sense of our world.
And then it comes to grappling with my own humanness—my own imperfections, emotions, confusion, fears, insecurities, and discomfort. The experience of life as a messy and imperfect thinking and feeling being. I dive into this work often and deeply, and yet still, as I do, I quickly stop quoting Brené Brown and forget everything I “know” about this stuff. It becomes glaringly obvious to me again and again that these lessons are limited unless they’re lived.
I recall how empowering and incredible the idea of vulnerability and authenticity are and wonder why on earth it feels so ick in practice. I recoil as I see the judgements I make, those places where I don’t practice what I preach, and those pockets of reactivity that randomly arise. Shaking my head wondering if “the work” will ever end.
Here’s the thing: being human is tricky. Up close and personal, it can be incredibly confronting.
Yet I keep going in for more. Committing to getting vulnerable, loving, dreaming, growing, discovering. It all means that we’ll have to feel the fears, the hurt, the embarrassment, or the discomfort that often come hand in hand with these experiences.
Yes, we might find ourselves suffocating in swirling shame or defeat or anxiety, and yes, it can feel absolutely awful. Which is probably why we might choose not to do this so often. Even if it does turn out to be incredibly worth it each and every time.
Instead we might seek solace in being numb, in staying stuck, in shying away from opportunity and possibility. We strive to be somewhat robotic in our quest for perfection and looking like we’ve got our sh*t together. We attempt to look “strong” by hiding emotion, “perfect” by not being who we truly are, and “independent” by not letting anyone else in. Social media amplifies these illusions and has us comparing, putting ourselves down, and feeling pressure to share the filtered version of us that we think will be deemed “good enough.”
This is not allowing ourselves to be fully human and truly alive. I know it can feel so raw and real and like we’re completely exposed, but that’s what I think we’re here for. I believe we are here to let ourselves be fully human and truly alive.
So in my own quest to conquer that conflict between highly valuing being human and also cringing at the thoughts of looking “weak,” imperfect, or messy, I’ve learned a few things along the way:
1. Know Yourself
Getting to know our unique selves and not some illusive perfect persona that we feel like we should be is key. Become self-aware. Some of us just feel a whole lot. That’s simply how we’re wired—we’re sensitive and we get invested.
We need to become aware of how we operate and get interested in what makes us tick. Maybe we cry easily or scare easily or are quick to anger. Maybe we fear disappointment or letting others down or getting too involved. Whatever it is that we begin to notice, we need to stop ignoring it and seek to understand it instead. We need to get compassionately curious about what it is that makes us human in our own way, and how we may be trying to avoid that in our actions.
We need to become aware of how we label our humanness. What do we perceive it to be? What are we striving for? What judgements do we fear most? Do we believe that there’s a certain way we have to come across in order to be acceptable to others?
By disconnecting from our humanity, we teach ourselves to disconnect from what makes us who we are as humans. As we attempt to look flawless, have no obvious emotion, and zero vulnerabilities, we are numbing out our gut instincts and feelings. We turn down the volume of what our true self inside is shouting about. We turn off our tears before they get the chance to run. We push people away before they get too close.
Instead of listening to our intuition, we shroud ourselves in “shoulds,” barricading ourselves with the perceived expectations of others and numbing ourselves to our own passions, desires, and dreams.
And so, in our attempts to turn down the potential backlash, we eliminate our ability to fully feel and connect deeply to ourselves. But the fact is, none of us are here to artificially act our way through our experiences. To fully embrace being human, we need to let ourselves feel and crumble and make mistakes and fall. Because it’s all part and parcel of this experience.
This is one that was pretty loud for me, and it goes hand in hand with our “shoulds.” I was putting people and ideas on pedestals. I’d start judging myself for the imperfections I was becoming aware of instead of allowing them. I would hit myself with the “I know better” stick when I could see myself squirming in the discomfort of it all.
When we do start to embrace our humanness, we can become critical. Our old stories might start to pipe up. Instead of welcoming the fact that we’re expressing, we judge what’s coming out. Instead of giving ourselves credit for letting ourselves be seen, we tell ourselves “that’s enough.”
We need to open our minds to non-judgment. So you got a bit upset or jealous or anxious or uncomfortable? That’s all okay; let it all be okay. This is not about perfecting being human; this is about respecting and allowing ourselves to be in the innate messiness of it. There is no scoreboard; there are no measuring sticks. Let it all be how it is.
4. Let Go
We’ve absorbed countless stories of how to do life and who we should be as we grew up. As we begin embracing ourselves as we are in this moment, we might notice the noise of niggling old narratives. There’s a lot of conditioning to un-condition, stories to rewrite, truth to reconnect to.
Now is a beautiful time to redefine your experience. It’s time to examine the stories that don’t serve you. The perceptions that feed your old paradigm. The expectations and restrictions that have been keeping you stuck in an inauthentic state. Explore the magic in the mess, the power of vulnerability, the connection that can only arise from raw realness.
Let go of the story fear weaves about being perfect. Let go of the impossible standards you try to hold yourself to. Let go of the self-judgement and criticism that keep your mind full of negativity and self-destruction.
What I’ve discovered in finally surrendering more to this invitation of true humanness is that we will never have it all figured out. And part of me wishes that wasn’t true, but another part loves that it is.
We’re here for this journey. We’re totally equipped for it. We just need to truly let ourselves be on it.
In this life, none of us are ever going to be anything other than human.
And we were never meant to be.