Last week I was reflecting on how much easier it is to be understanding and to show grace when we know people’s stories. This week I’ve been reflecting on how those stories reveal our complexity as human beings.
I am a positive person. I am talkative (anyone who knows me is laughing right now at the understatement). I tend to have ridiculous amounts of energy and enthusiasm. I see the best in things, and I’ve been accused of being “PollyAnna” on more than one occasion.
But sometimes I am sad and withdrawn. Sometimes I am frustrated and upset, and I honestly cannot explain why. I usually snap out of it quickly, but those who know me best know what I am talking about.
I am complex. So are you.
It is tempting to put people in a box. We meet someone, form a first impression, and we assume that is who they are. Rarely are people that easy to figure out. Some people are comfortable in a room full of strangers, but who they are in those interactions may bear little resemblance to who they are with their friends. Others are more reserved and take some time to open up, but they are listening and learning and getting to know people.
Someone told me this week that they appreciate my “authentic self”. It made me feel good. I’m not sure I always know though who my authentic self is.
Our stories shape who we are. The times that we have been hurt have left us jaded. The times we have been sick have left scars. The times we have disappointed others have left guilt. Even if we have moved beyond any negative emotions from the past, we are different because of the experiences.
Our stories also give us strength and resilience. Each one of us has overcome seemingly insurmountable things. We have tackled great challenges and come out on top. We all have.
I really am a positive person. My authentic self believes the world is good and kind and fun. None of that changes because I have a hard day, or a hard hour.
My challenge to you this week is to seek to see the people in your lives more deeply. We are none of us all good or all bad, all happy or all sad. It’s part of what makes us interesting. It’s part of what we should value and appreciate.
It’s a big week. There are final exams and holiday parties. There are celebrations and stressors. Be kind to each other.