I want people to feel better about being human.
I just do.
Being human is untidy—we’re inconsistent, moody, and, depending on the day, a little too gassy. And sometimes, we can’t keep any of that to ourselves. All of this can lead to embarrassment and sometimes shame, and seriously I don’t want that for you or for any of us. We should be able to be human without worrying about our fragile, leaky selves.
I’m thinking I’ll run for president on this platform. It will be the Feel Better campaign. I’ll get the tired mom vote for sure.
One of the things that make us all feel better about being human is hearing each other’s stories. Like that year I lost my turkey the morning of Thanksgiving (click here for that untidy story), I got to hear a lot of stories about holiday mishaps from you. Then there was the night I took ADHD medicine instead of my Progesterone (click here for that story)—another presidential platform for sure. Every time I tell you about my humanity, I hear about yours and I feel so much better.
That’s the power of storytelling—but you already know that.
I did a talk last year at the New Hampshire Children’s Trust, whose goal it is to Prevent Child Abuse in America. I’m telling you this because knowing this nonprofit exists makes me feel better immediately.
They asked me this question:
Why is hearing the stories of others so important to our own experience as human beings?
Because I can’t help myself, I told this story.
When I heard this year that there was an underwater train that crossed the English Channel called the Chunnel, I went straight to Google. When did that happen? 1994? Good God, that was *quickly finger counts* twenty-eight years ago. What? How did I miss that? What else have I missed?
And, I’m sorry, but the name Chunnel wins for the ugliest word in the English language right behind vegan.
I called my best friend and asked her if she knew about the Chunnel. She did.
I said, “I feel so dumb.”
She said, “You were getting married and finishing your PhD. Plus, you had strep forever. And then you got pregnant. It’s hard to keep track of the English Channel when you live in Wisconsin. You need to give yourself a break.” She went on to say, “I just found out that they grew a liver in a lab back in 2010.”
I reminded her,
“You started that new job and got a dog. You probably weren’t in the market for a test-tube liver.”
After the call, we both felt better. We were validated, reminded, comforted, and reminisced. Our lifelong friendship of telling our stories to each other made all of that possible. That and the Chunnel.
If we tell our stories, we admit to being human and feel better about it because….
Shame is embarrassment hidden and baked to perfection over time. Perfection is a trap where your sadness lives.
Please tell me your human story and make me feel better.