I’ve been experimenting with listening to spoken word meditations in the morning to help set the tone for my day. It’s a way to be still and breathe. Sometimes the words I hear affect me in ways I didn’t expect. When I first listened to these words from Sarah Blondin, I cried so hard that my shirt was soaked with tears.
It’s likely I’ve told you you’re allowed to be a work in progress—you’re allowed to be human . Those phrases are permissions I come back to again and again. It’s a huge relief to be reminded that I’m not actually required to be perfect, even if I still struggle to believe it.
When I hear those permissions spoken with compassion, I feel my shoulders drop a little from where I’ve held them tensed around my ears. I start seeing more possibilities to explore and options to try when I don’t feel so much pressure to have it all perfectly figured out. I am more able to enjoy the journey of my life instead of beating myself up for not having reached some unattainable destination.
I’m slowly learning to release some of the impossible expectations I’ve held for myself. Until I heard the words spoken out loud, however, I didn’t realize how desperately I also need to acknowledge how painful it is when I sometimes still act in ways that don’t reflect the person I want to be.
Being told it’s ok to have flaws can make us think we’re supposed to feel ok about having those flaws. Saying it’s ok to be right where we are is only part of it. It releases us from impossible expectations, but it doesn’t address the discomfort of the in between places where we spend much of our lives.
Allowing ourselves to be human gives us freedom to experiment, make mistakes, change our minds, and try again. It also means that at times we’ll fall back into old patterns . We’ll do the things we said we didn’t want to do. We’ll make unhelpful choices.
Just because these things are normal doesn’t mean they aren’t also frustrating and discouraging. Knowing to expect them doesn’t mean we won’t feel lonely, angry, sad, or afraid.
As we learn to let ourselves be works in progress, let’s also learn to let ourselves feel whatever we feel about being right where we are. That doesn’t mean we need to stay stuck in our feelings, but denying them is another way to be unkind to ourselves.
Allowing ourselves to be a work in progress does not mean we are projects to be driven forward. It is not about making consistent, measurable improvement toward an end goal. Nor is it an excuse to give up and never try to make changes in our lives since we’ll never be good enough anyway.
Being human doesn’t mean you’re defined by imperfection. Rather, let’s expand our humanity to include the whole experience, emotions and all. I don’t want to release myself from the expectation that I’ll be perfect only to replace it with the expectation that I’ll feel nothing but joy and gratitude about being imperfect.
This mix of love and hate, hope and doubt, excitement and frustration, joy and pain we feel in trying to navigate our lives is normal. We’re not wrong for feeling these things and we are not alone. We don’t have to hide the parts of ourselves we fear are lacking until we can somehow force them to be better. We don’t have to wait on the sidelines until we can prove we’re worthy to be seen and take part.
Instead, we can learn to see how each part of us is a piece of a complex and beautiful whole person. We can greet ourselves with compassion, patience, and gentleness—even as we experience the frustration, pain, or fear.
What if instead we could look at those parts of ourselves we wish weren’t there and say I see you. I know how much it hurts. You are valuable. (I appreciate that these exact words won’t resonate with everyone. Feel free to use whatever words express compassionate acknowledgment for you.)
I’d love to know…What does being human mean to you? Where can you acknowledge the emotions you experience when you don’t act as how you’d ideally hope to be and greet yourself with a little more compassion?