I spent time recently with some quite accomplished women that I know and adore. It’s soul tending and love and companionship and intimate and connection and life affirming all rolled into conversations over coffee and meandering walks and three course dinners. I know that the future of this world that we live in is up to us women continuing to support other women as they create their lives.
To be able to share bits of vulnerability alongside our celebrations and the stories that make us unique is a gift, indeed. As I was telling a client just this week, we humans are not meant to traverse this world alone, our lives are meant to be witnessed. I’m convinced it’s why God made us humans the way he did. That this human experience is meant to be shared and seen. Our witnesses are our parents and children. Our witnesses are our partners and our friends. Our witnesses are our coaches and our readers and sometimes strangers.
We are also meant to witness others. It is the give and take of this human experience. Because we learn so much about life and living and who we are and who we are meant to be in the act of being the witness. We learn from the stories of others.
Being a witness is critical. We need to share in the love and joys of others. We also need to share in the vulnerabilities and offer up sympathy and empathy.
We are witnesses in dozens of ways. Face to face with loved ones. A chance meeting in a café. A conversation with the butcher at the grocery store. We are also witnesses as we read books and blogs and view peoples status updates on Facebook and photos on Instagram. We witness far more than we typically are witnessed.
I think therein lies the challenge of this exchange – we witness far more than we are witnessed.
Because, let’s be honest. Being a witness isn’t always easy. It triggers our fears and brings up our insecurities. Sometimes, we have little tinges of jealousy appear. Often, we believe that the perfection of others is just a sign that we are failing in our own lives and businesses. Being a witness can bring up those feelings of being unworthy or unlovable or as if we don’t belong.
Yes, darling, the downside of this inescapable part of living is that in the act of doing what we need to do (be a witness) we often compare our unique human experience to the unique experiences of someone else.
Comparisons are always unfair, though. Because what we do is compare the worst parts of our lives – our failures, where we’re missing, what our inner critic tells us when we are exhausted and tired and hungry – with the best sides that others present to the world.
It happened to me several times these past two weeks. As I listened to the stories of the amazing women I was friends and colleagues with, I saw how beautifully they were doing in their lives and businesses but only saw where I was failing and falling short.
Then I remind myself that I am ME. I am unique and have different gifts and strengths than any of my friends. Just like they have gifts unique to each of them.
The human experience is meant to have threads of commonality so that we can be reminded that we aren’t alone. However, we each have a unique purpose. Each one of us is meant to travel our journey. Our journeys are not about competition, it’s about finding our path and contributing to the fabric of humanity in our unique way.
So, the question to ask myself is not: how am I doing in comparison to my friends or colleagues. The question to ask myself is: am I doing the best I can with what I have been given?
We can’t help but see what others present to us on the outside – the highlight reels of their lives and careers – their perfect moments. In this experience of living, none of us are truly perfect. Yet, in this life, we all have beautifully perfect moments in the course of our everyday lives.
I am enough. Each and every one of us IS enough. We are worthy of being loved and accepted as we are. Loosening up our knee-jerk reaction to comparing ourselves to others will open ourselves to seeing what is beautiful in our own world.
Our lives are meant to be witnessed. We need to simply remember that our experiences – the good, the bad, the strong and the vulnerable – are a moments of beauty. And as we witness others, when we applaud them and see them in their perfect and imperfections – we are reminded that we are all in this together.