I have a dare for you.
Let’s say you didn’t know me at all. Let’s say you just happen to read my blog, I reach out to you for this dare, and you decide to come try. And this is what I do—I gather a handful of my friends, most of my acquaintances, and all of my co-workers into one room…then I dare you to tell me which of these people:
- Has recently had an abortion
- Has been the victim of a hate crime
- Has recently been accepted into a prestigious college
- Has lupus
- Is going through a divorce
- Is on a diet
- Is losing their home
- Is in therapy
- Has recently received a community service award
- Almost died last year
I know that you know that I know that you know where this is going—you probably can’t successfully complete this dare. At best, you might luck out in identifying some people correctly, but overall, the reality is that you have no idea what any of these people in my life are going through. Even our closest friends go through things we’re unaware of at times.
Part of neglecting your own message is that you often forget the message yourself. We’re human, so we get distracted by the day-to-day, or our lives sometimes crumble a bit, and we forget what we’re standing for because we’re too busy picking up the pieces to repeat our message to others—which means we’re too busy to (sometimes) keep that message in mind ourselves.
I’ve been guilty of this lately.
I’ve never tried to pretend that I’m perfect. I’ve never even tried to pretend I’m in the top 10th percentile of this living a nonjudgmental life thing. In fact, the last time I was in the top 10th percentile of anything was probably elementary school. To be perfectly honest, I’ve been so unfocused lately that I’ve been neglecting my own message to the degree that I’ve been working against it.
The message I’m talking about is the one that’s closest to my heart: don’t forget that people are human, people are real.
I had a few reminders yesterday that I’ve been too caught up in my own troubles to live by this. One of those reminders was that I reacted to a person and a situation in a way that represents who I was probably two years ago, rather than who I am now (or who I want to be). I let my own feelings of anxiety, frustration, and overwhelm keep me from remembering that the woman in front of me—the woman I was dealing with—is just another human soul like me.
I saw nothing but the interaction we were having. I saw nothing but my own reaction to that interaction. I fumed and I held onto the negativity of that interaction for most of the day. And all through that, I never once stopped to remind myself (as I often do, until lately) that she’s human, she’s real. Whatever struggles I’m having right now, she is having her own as well. They may be worse than mine. They may be better. But human struggling isn’t about measuring and winning at hurting—we’re going to need serious help in this world if it ever comes to that.
Human struggling is just human struggling—period.
And as difficult as it is, we must remember that everyone is struggling with something at any given moment in time. No one lives a perfect life. No one is without sadness or joy or pride or anxiety or fear or weakness or creativity or love or pain or confusion. Everyone is human and everyone is real.
We have to live like we remember that. We have to live like that because that’s exactly what the world needs. Have we looked around lately, everyone? The world needs more love, more empathy, more understanding. We have to keep spreading the message—and we certainly can’t afford to forget the message.