There was a time, let’s see, somewhere between when I turned five and about a month ago, when I thought everyone else in my life had things all worked out. I have spent most of forty two years on earth feeling like I was the only one who couldn’t get my shit together. Man, was I wrong. Lately, I have become acutely aware of how messed up everyone else is as well. And there I was thinking it was just me.
Someone once said that we all live lives of quiet desperation. That pretty much describes it, don’t you think? We are all quietly desperate to get our job done well enough, to get the kids to turn out ok, to make sure our partner doesn’t lose interest, to ensure the money won’t run out, and be certain our neighbour doesn’t work out that we have no idea what we are doing. And we are only just managing to get away with it.
I looked up to everyone as better than me for, like, ever. I have been constantly proving myself, feeling intimidated and always, always on the back foot. But things are changing. I am seeing people differently, I think that’s what’s going on. There’s no way you have all changed that much. You have all always been this way, yeah? The whole world hasn’t just suddenly become filled with insecure, unhappy, broken hearted, struggling, just-holding-it-together people?
I’ve been blind.
I’ve been trying for about thirty seven years to get up, get ahead, get abreast and get a life. I haven’t seen people as like me. I’ve seen them as others, better, more completed others. I have played the victim. I have been in competition for Perfection with the whole human race. And I’m over it.
Please don’t think I’m casting a disparaging light over anyone – you haven’t changed, people, or been diminished in my estimation at all. In fact, the more I get to know people, the more I like you all. It’s my view of myself that’s has changed. I’m giving myself permission to stop trying to be better than you all. Let’s all just be, shall we?
Let’s be honest. Let’s be flawed. Let’s be trying as hard as we can with what we have to work with. Let’s be doing our best under the circumstances. Let’s be friends. Let’s be long tempered and short memoried. Let’s be generous. Let’s be giving ourselves, and others, a bloody well-earned break.
I’m seeing people through eyes not jaded, but tired. I’m tired of comparing myself to others, and others to myself. It’s exhausting worrying about what you all think of me. I’m giving away looking at folks and thinking “I would never do that”. It’s just garbage. I’ve been caught out so many times doing just what I said I never would. I have found myself in situations I never dreamed could happen to me, and I did my best, I swear, and somehow it did no good at all. I don’t know why. But now, I understand.
Author Anne Lamott says that the world’s most powerful sermon is just two words; “Me too”. I think that’s called empathy. If you can’t say to people “me too”, and mean it, then you are either a terrible, pretentious liar, or you are The Chosen One.
I don’t want to disappoint you all, but I am sure I could if you really wanted me to. I’m not Perfect and I haven’t got it all together. I want to say also, and this could get me into trouble, those people you look up to, they haven’t got it together either. They pick their noses at traffic lights and have to clean the toilet too, you know. There’s a reason why all have sinned and fallen short – it’s because everyone has a very short fall into stupid, unkind and ungracious behaviour.
So don’t be intimidated any more. You are normal. We are all the same. It’s not just you. Don’t worry what people think of you. They’re too busy trying not to let people see them pick their noses at traffic lights to worry about you anyway. Take it from one who knows – we are all in the same boat. Everyone is, in ways you could never imagine, exactly and precisely as messed up as you are.