“The most important point is to accept yourself and stand on your two feet.” ~Shunryu Suzuki
When I was younger, I am sure I was a little bit arrogant. I had high expectations for my life. They haven’t come to pass. I haven’t achieved whatever I thought I would achieve. It turns out that I’m an ordinary human being struggling with ordinary things.
Now that I’m in my forties, I have experienced disappointment, failure, and confusion. Many times I have lost sight of the path, and sometimes it’s felt like there never was one.
I expected I would be a writer. I did not expect to be a secretary. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it just wasn’t what I dreamed of.
I didn’t expect to have periods of unemployment, loneliness, or despair. I didn’t expect to be just like everyone else. Maybe I thought I was special, different, exempt. Maybe we all think that when we’re younger.
It’s not like I had it easy in my early life, but by my twenties I’m sure I thought it would all go to plan. It never went to plan. I’m not sure there ever was a plan.
And yet, maybe it has gone to plan, just not my plan. If some higher power is running the show, maybe this is part of the plan.
If I want to express the highs and lows of being human, then I need to have lived them. That’s what being a writer is. It’s not just being bulletproof and full of ideals. It’s making the dream right there in the gritty groundedness of everyday life.
I also realize that what I have achieved is not that important. What’s more important is what I’ve learned, and much of that didn’t come from success. Often my lessons came from the struggle of being human—wanting, trying, failing, and wanting and trying some more.
So at this stage, with my dreams still tugging at my heart and a lot of struggle behind me, I finally understand something about self-acceptance.
Here I am, right now. This is where I am and it’s okay.
Right here, right now.
I am where I am right now. That’s my starting point. I might wish I were further along, but I am where I am. I have to accept where I am or I can’t move anywhere, let alone forward.
Where are you now? Why is that okay?
This is my life and it’s good.
When I come back to gratitude, everything gets better. My expectations may be higher than my reality, but really, I have so much. Many people lack the basics: good food, clean water, access to healthcare, literacy. Even at the simplest level, my life is blessed.
What do you give thanks for?
A divine plan.
It does seem that life isn’t running according to my plan. Maybe there is a bigger plan. I may not always like it, but maybe it’s perfect after all. I don’t know what the Universe has in mind. It would be very arrogant to think I did.
How could this be part of a higher plan?
Being very human.
Experiencing disappointment, struggle, and failure is part of being human. It helps us feel for each other. I am fairly idealistic, but at this age I know that I am pretty human. I am full of faults and mistakes, and a few brilliant moments too.
How do you feel most human in your challenges? Why is that good?
No better or worse.
In my twenties I went to acting school. When you act, you explore the potential to be many different selves. We all have the potential to be an angel or a devil. Most of us are in between, but it might have worked out differently.
Why are you no better or worse than anyone else?
Honestly, sometimes our faults are simply our characteristics. Maybe you’re bossy but a great organizer, or a natural leader. Maybe you are a rebel who challenges the way we think and act. Maybe you channel your anger and make others laugh at your daring. Great comedians do that.
What is your favorite fault? How could you use it?
How it looks to the world.
We are often much harder on ourselves than anyone else would ever be. You may think you’ve achieved nothing while, to the next person, you have everything. It’s all relative and it’s all perspective. None of us have an unbiased lens.
There is no point wishing you were more than you are. It may all be happening this way for a reason. Even if there is no reason, the meaning you choose will make the difference.
At the end of our lives, it won’t really matter how many toys we have or even what we have achieved. It will matter that we appreciated this one precious life. It will matter that we enjoyed and explored being human. Love and experience; that’s it.
Let’s not give up on our dreams. Let’s keep moving toward them. Just play the game lightly with little attention to the score.