We live in a society where we completely and utterly shame our humanity on a daily basis. Not only are we our own worst critics, but we are so fearful of being human in general. If we make a mistake, we automatically drown in our own guilt and shame and we don’t feel worthy enough to use forgiveness as a life raft.
I had a very religious friend in High School who was so trapped in the mindset of, “Sinning is bad. Therefore, making mistakes is bad”. She even wrote on her bedroom mirror something along the lines of, “You are not perfect. This means you aren’t worthy of God’s love, but He gives it to you anyways”. To be fair, of course, not everyone (or every religious person) thinks like this – but the misconception is real. Sometimes we shame ourselves for being human, we just do. I will be the first one to admit that I am guilty of this, being hard on myself for not being close to perfect. We shame ourselves so hard for not being perfect or for not fitting into this ideal box that we knit pick every detail of our lives until we hate ourselves. We tell ourselves we shouldn’t have slept with that one person, that we didn’t try hard enough at school/work, that we could have done more for our friend, or that it’s our fault we don’t like our appearance because we ate the last slice of pizza.
The truth of the matter is, is that there is no possible way for us to move forward, to offer ourselves compassion, and to be gentle with our own human nature, if we simultaneously feel guilty for it as well.
You can’t feel compassion and shame for the same exact thing, at the same exact time. Those things can’t coexist. You can’t selectively numb.
In order to move forward and be free from anything, we first have to accept and own it. Nothing can own you without permission, and you give it permission by letting it have a hold on you through guilt and shame. You don’t deserve that, you don’t deserve to carry the weight and the ignorance that shame and guilt are made of.
It’s time that we truly embrace our imperfections. It’s time that we start looking at our mistakes as a way to connect, to universally understand that we all make the same errors, and to hold each other’s hands as we commend each other’s strength for being seen.
When we can embrace our humanity, we can fully live in it.