It is hard to be human.
It is challenging for everyone.
This past weekend I gave a presentation at a youth workers conference. The room was filled with working adults – folks ages mid-twenties and up. These leaders had paid their own money and given up their entire weekend to sit in a room, classroom-style, and learn more effective strategies to support, guide, and mentor the teens in their charge.
Yet it quickly became apparent that the material we discussed was as applicable to our own lives today as it is for the teens in our lives.
We all struggle with something. We are all afraid, as one youth worker put it when describing the silence of his teen girls in group study situations, “of looking stupid in front of our friends”. We never really grow out of our need for reassurance that we have chosen the “right” outfit for the occasion (i.e. no suits to a pool party or flip-flops to a wedding, otherwise known as “what would the neighbors/relatives/spouses/other guests think”).
Similarly, we never quite fully manage to shed our concern about “what s/he meant by that” before choosing our response.
The trouble with being human is that we never really “arrive” at that state – in fact, we are never even quite sure what “being human” means. We are forever students of the human experience, just trying to do the best we can and hoping it will one day make sense.
Throughout our lives, our bodies and minds will continue to change. Our hearts will swing open or shut depending on the circumstances each day presents. And while our spirits may not change per se, our awareness of them over time certainly will.
On some level, we will always continue to feel like strangers to ourselves, with fluctuating levels of curiosity and fear in response to the new things we learn about “me”.
And no matter how together we seem to have it from the outside looking in, we certainly don’t ever get to the point where we feel that way from the inside looking out.
My own mentor often reminds me that we are all three-dimensional beings. As in, I am not the only multi-faceted body/mind/heart/spirit wandering around out there each day trying to figure it all out.
When we struggle with an eating disorder, loss of a loved one, cancer, a child’s illness or our own, someone else in this world is also going through the very same thing at that very same time. This is why we so desperately need to remember that there is always someone, somewhere, who will somehow understand what we are going through.
What may be even more important, however, is something I share in my book Beating Ana that my first mentor taught me. She was quite insistent to remind me that we must, at every second of every day while we are struggling through something, strive to remember that what we are facing does not make us weird, different, stupid, unlike the rest. It makes us HUMAN – like the rest – and our very fragile yet resilient humanity is the one condition we all share.
We can always do something to support another three-dimensional human being in our sphere of influence. We can always use someone else’s support, perspective, and insight into our own three-dimensional lives.
The only real trouble with being human, I have found, is that we so often forget this.
It is okay to reach out for support – everyone else needs to feel needed and valuable too. It is okay to offer support – everyone else needs to feel cared for and valued too.
Relationships replace eating disorders (and breakups and cancer and loss and downsizing and illness and bankruptcy).
We are all in this
We are all in this together, three-dimensionally.