Winging It

“My first world is humanity. My second world is humanism. And, I live in the third world being merely a human.” ― Santosh Kalwar

“There is some kind of a sweet innocence in being human- in not having to be just happy or just sad- in the nature of being able to be both broken and whole, at the same time.”
― C. JoyBell C.


I realize, again, that everyone is winging it. No matter your age, your station in life, your past, your carefully crafted plan, you never really know what to do.

I see this with my clients, friends, family, and myself. Part of making it up as we go along is acknowledging we’re all human. Being human means we have moments when we’re sloppy, selfish, or momentarily unaware. It means we might hurt those we love the most, we might take more than we give, or help others in ways that surprise ourselves.

When we’re kids, we think our parents have all the answers. We think our grandparents know how to solve problems and how to soothe us perfectly. But, our parents and grandparents are winging it, too. They don’t know what’s going on, just as we don’t. I believed, when I turned thirty, my life would be set; it would be easier, perfect, and pretty. Around 22, I really believed that by 30 (at the very latest), I’d be married and everything else would literally fall into place. I turned 30 and it was exactly the same as when I was 29! I naively thought, when I was in my early twenties, that there was a cliff and I’d either be on the windy road traveling safely or I’d fall off within a few days of my birthday if things weren’t going exactly as planned. It was so silly of me to think this way. But how would I have known when nobody else knew what to expect either?

I also thought adulthood would be different from my teen years. The main difference in being a real adult is that I have to figure things out on my own rather than having my parents tell me what to do. It was easier as a kid because I didn’t have to decide. I had boundaries and rules set up in the household and I knew the consequences if I stayed out too late or snuck into a party I was prohibited from attending.

Adulthood, or the rest of our lives, is hard.

There are intricacies and dynamics at work, in all matters of relationships, financial stressors, and countless questions of what to do or how to do them. Don’t get me wrong: adulthood is also really cool. We get to eat whatever we want, get Disneyland annual passes without asking permission, and choose how late to stay up. For better or worse, we self-parent and live with our own humanness.

Being human is beautiful, even if it’s also scary, intimidating, or frustrating. You might ask what it’s like to not be human? Well, it’s an experience of trying to be perfect, not wanting to be overbearing, feeling like you’re always trying to fit in or please others at the expense of your moral code.

I lived in a bubble not wanting to make mistakes. But, I was only deluding myself.

When I allowed myself to start being human, I experienced a giant shift. I started making closer connections and opened up to bigger possibilities. I shed more tears, but also laughed heartily. It might sound naive or strange, but I had previously viewed myself as someone who had to work hard, be better, try more. A big epiphany came when my coach reminded me that I could make mistakes (like everyone else) and I would not need to mentally flog myself in order to repent. Rather, I could do my best and then move on. I had previously held myself to an unreachable, skyscraper level. In order to achieve goals, I needed scaffolding and a crane to reach the top.

 

Woman praying at a shrine in Zagreb, Croatia. Photo by Melissa Gluck

This pressure can feel insurmountable. When making mistakes, I’ve sifted through the circumstances, causes, effects, consequences, people involved, and ways I could have thought or behaved differently. This microscopic examination is not only tiresome, it can be tedious and unimportant. The mesh sieve I’ve used to filter guilt from other feelings gets clogged and creates a traffic jam in my brain.

So, I make mistakes. I don’t purposely mess up, but sometimes lines get crossed and they have to be repaired. Trying not to make the same mistakes repeatedly is the name of the game. Working to grow from experiences and view the world with beginners’ eyes is what I try to do. Sometimes people are disappointed in me. Sometimes I’m disappointed in myself. It’s all part of the process. And even with the mistakes, I still deserve good things. It’s taken me a while to get here. For a long time, I it felt like making mistakes meant I deserved less or had to repent more. I was mean to myself and beat myself up for the dumbest things.

It comes down to this: anyone is capable of anything.

Or, everyone is capable of everything. Depending on the circumstances, a saint could steal, a sinner could repent. A cheater could be honest. An otherwise honest person could lie. When love, drugs, necessity, addiction, or or toxic emotions get involved, people do things they’d never imagine.

So how do we acknowledge our humanness?

I think it’s when we realize things are not going in the exact way we intended.

It’s when we acknowledge our true selves and our essence, rather than allowing the mistakes to define us. We move on. It’s time to stop holding grudges against others. No more self-flagellation. Appreciate that the mistakes are probably not fatal. We might not have done things in the best ways, or said the necessary things in a very tactful way. Ask yourself if you can you repair the damage. It might take a minute, but many mistakes mendable. Look at situations you’re in with beginners eyes. But most of all, be more gentle with yourself and remember that humanness is unique, beautiful, and why we’re here.

Please visit me at Coaching By Nina Rubin. Photography by Melissa Gluck.

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