To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. ~ e.e. cummings
A week ago I made my boss laugh with a profound quote (okay, not really so profound, which is probably what sparked the laughter). I said, “Ugh. People….. they are so human!”
Of course, the quote does not mean much unless you get the context. The bottom line is, people can be challenging. They can surprise you, they can delight you, they can love you, they can motivate and encourage you. People can also frustrate you, infuriate you, and challenge you. This is what makes being in a people profession so wonderful, and so exhausting – and sometimes so wonderfully exhausting! We never know what we are going to get, but we do know that people, even the ones we believe we can rely on, are actually not fully predictable. Why? Because we are all human.
I like to think I am a pretty level-headed person that can be relied upon at all times to make decent decisions. I also believe I have a pretty long fuse, it takes a lot to anger me. However, two years ago – after my father died – my fuse was at an all-time short length. Incidents that usually did not get me angry did get me angry…. normally I was much more patient – but, I too (sadly) am as human as the rest of us and in those moments of stress in my own life I found that I did not have the tolerance I normally have.
Because we live and work and interact with many different people on a daily basis, we are often up against the stressors in their lives and our own. I see this on a daily basis – I work with a wonderful group of individuals – many of them. And a handful of these people are always under stress (not the same people, it rotates). There are always people with health issues, or work stressors, or ill parents. I have learned that, if I can extend empathy to people in these moments, I am less likely to fall victim to their short fuses due to their life circumstances.
Perhaps understanding that people are indeed so very human affords us the ability to reach out as individuals and take their hand and build bridges of deeper human understanding – person to person.
Today, 135 day ’til 40, I seek to remind myself that, when uncomfortable reactions happen between myself and another person, I must keep in mind that there may be things in that person’s life I am unaware of. The interaction may be a culmination of circumstances, and perhaps not directly about the person or about me. If I can step back and understand this, then I can also distance myself enough to try to help diffuse a distressing moment.