October 24, 2016

Permission to be Human.

sad woman shakespeare actress alone

Her fingers are trembling.

It’s barely discernible—so subtle it might even have gone unnoticed save for one distinct crinkle: a treacherous tell. As she reaches across the table, the paper contract in her hands flutters, then catches.

Neither of us acknowledges the sound. I take the packet, she folds her hands back into her lap, concealed once more.

But secretly? I just want to shout out, I see you! It’s okay. You have permission to be human. You are allowed to be nervous. You can tremble. You can shake. You are allowed to mess this up!

By every indication, my associate appears calm and collected. If anything, this young professional’s demeanor borders on apathetic, utterly nonplussed. Yet, though nearly imperceptible, her own body has given her up. She is shaking.

My heart swells with compassion. I do not envy her position. Today her job performance is pivotal for her career. My role as a consultant reviewing our interaction does nothing to assuage her nerves.

The day continues with five more interviews. My next candidate’s voice wavers when he introduces himself. He quickly covers the tremor with a throat-clearing cough. Another associate manages to curtail a foot-tapping tic by weaving her ankles around the legs of her chair, literally belting in her ankle boots.

Is my human showing? each silently implores. Is it obvious I’m human? each doggedly conceals.

The anxiety of visible vulnerability, perceived weakness permeates the space. It’s all I can do to stop myself from reaching across the table to pat a hand or whisper a word of comfort. I suppress my yogic instinct to urge my companions to take a breath.

Silently, I offer each a prayer of support. Internally I chant, “I see you, I am you, I know you, I love you.”

Maybe it’s because today, I feel selfish. Today, I wonder if someone will see me. Is my human showing? I wonder if today, it’s obvious my voice sounds…off. My smile, forced. Even my sentences—strained.

Today I feel more stupor-human than super-human.

Even a power-suit pantsuit can’t camouflage the cracks. I left my house in four-inch heels—how can it be I feel like I’m standing negative three?

My human? Totally showing. My human? Feels shaky. And life right now? Smells like surrender. It’s seasonal, it’s spiritual, and I’m still waiting for the pumpkin spice sweetness.

It’s fall alright. Everything is shaking. Literally and metaphorically. All the leaves, all the old, all the familiar is falling away. Things are shedding and dying. It’s a season of losses and transition, a passage of abrupt pivots. I’m receiving lots of not-so-gentle reminders to let go.

Sometimes you get strong-armed into surrender.

I tell a friend I’m having a moment—a life moment. Which deceivingly doesn’t feel very much like just one mere “moment.”

I try to be me for me. A pat on the hand, some words of comfort, the reminder to breathe baby, breathe.

I forgot my invincibility cloak earlier this week. Arriving at an event, eyes still red from crying in my car, I walked inside determined to honor the promise of my attendance. A beautiful thing occurred. A friend looked and really saw me.

Soul recognition.

Hello, I see you. Hello, beautiful soul, I see tonight, you are feeling human.

And in that all-knowing way only soul family can do, taking in my Eeyore-worthy clouds and red-rimmed eyes, she gave me a hug and said it was okay. Not that it was going to be okay, but that my right now was okay.

Then unexpectedly and more beautifully, another friend arrived just as raw, just as authentic in her human-ness.

So, two hearts unmasked, two broken-spirits together, we held space one for the other. Which I think is what they mean by humanity. Humans united. Humans willing to be in the it of it together. Humans, like soul family, who show up the next afternoon with sunflowers just because they saw your Eeyore-worthy clouds and wanted to brighten your day. And boy did they ever.

Masaru Emoto wrote:

“If you feel lost, disappointed, hesitant, or weak, return to yourself, to who you are, here and now and when you get there, you will discover yourself, like a lotus flower in full bloom, even in a muddy pond, beautiful and strong.”

Or, in layman’s speak: vulnerable and strong, broken and blooming—your human is beautiful. Just as you are.

It’s fall alright. Those leaves might be falling, but I’m still thankful for my rain clouds. There’d be no flowers without ‘em. And my human? Loves flowers.


Author: Maelyn Gandola

Image: Wikipedia

Editor: Catherine Monkman

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