You know how people say things like, “I love seeing the raw humanity in others.”
Or, “I love hearing about the struggles of really successful people.”
Or, “Knowing that people who appear to have it all together, but actually don’t—and that they’re human and messy like the rest of us—well it just helps me love them more.”
Do you know what I’m referring to? That phenomenon where people come to appreciate others even more so when they see them in their full humanity?
In fact, often times leaders or successful people are told these sorts of things as a sort of encouragement for them to be more transparent about their struggles, their flaws, and their failures.
“People will only come to love and respect you more,” they’re assured.
Look, I get that this might be true for some (many?) people.
But can I tell you a secret?
Keep My Heroes Flawless, ThankYouVeryMuch
I don’t want to see famous actors and actresses all frumpy and in their PJs.
I don’t want to know that the people I follow and admire are slobs or not put together.
I’m totally fine (and prefer) not knowing the flaws and foibles of those I look up to.
Stay flawless, I say!
For me, knowing that this highly respected person, or that massively successful person, is also quite plainly a mere mortal like everyone else, does not “make me love them more.”
Now, I accept that sharing this piece about me with you might be making you cringe a bit. Perhaps you’ll be a bit disappointed in me. Think a little less of me.
But I wanted to put this out there in case there are others like me. Others who don’t quite resonate with the whole, “people will love you more the more you human you are!”
But I’m also putting this out there because, although yes, everything above is absolutely true and real about me, it’s also not the end of the story.
Because I’m pretty sure (eh, who am I kidding, I’m positive) the only reason I don’t want to see the “humanity” in my heroes is because I don’t like seeing and acknowledging the humanity in my own Self.
The Flawed Story I Live By
The story I’ve told myself for most of my life is that being human--with weakness and issues and struggles--is somehow less-than. Not as good.
And being awesome is, well, awesome.
As a result, I’ve extended enormous energy over the years keeping my weaknesses hidden from others. Polishing my flaws before anyone can see them. Pretending I don’t screw up or make mistakes like everyone else.
In short, I’ve been afraid of my own humanity. Because the lies I’ve believed are that I’m only acceptable to others, I’m only lovable, as long as I don’t mess up. As long as I make people happy. As long as I do the right thing and get the job done.
I’ve lived by a simple formula:
Being normal and flawed = unworthy.
Being awesome = love.
Which means, then, that of course I don’t want to see the humanity in others, of course seeing their failures and flaws doesn’t make me appreciate them more, because I’ve come to believe that things like flaws and failures are weaknesses that render a person less likely to be loved!
And all of that stems from my own fear of seeing myself as frail and human, because I can’t accept that such a state is worthy of love.
I’ve Got a Goal
So here’s the deal.
While my natural inclination might very well be to resist the idea that “seeing people’s humanity and their struggles will only make you appreciate them more,” I’m becoming conscious of how that impulse in me is rooted in a faulty narrative. And driven by fear.
And can change!
I can see and name how I’m projecting my fear of others seeing my weakness, which in turn causes me to not want to see their weakness.
So what’s my way out of this winding mess of flawed narratives?
An acceptance of myself in all my flailing, faulty, limited and messy humanity.
I need to come to see those parts of myself not as something to overcome, or to hide, or to repress or dominate. But things to accept... and then... love.
When I can love those parts of me that make bad choices…
When I can love what I see in the mirror when I haven’t gotten dressed or done my hair or shaved… or when I’ve put on unwanted weight…
When I can love myself at the end of a day which utterly lacked anything productive to show for it…
When I can love myself after bitterly disappointing people I love…
Well, then, I can start believing that other people might also love (or even still love) me in the midst of all that human junk, too.
When that happens, I can start believing a different story: that being totally human, imperfect and flawed, messy and mortal, is a lovable condition after all.
Then… who knows... maybe one day I’ll be like you all: drawn closer to people I admire after hearing about their flaws, failures, and inadequacies.
I’m skeptical... but I’m casting it as my goal nonetheless. 😉
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