When I was 35 weeks pregnant with twins, there was no hiding my discomfort and struggle. People would offer me their seats on the bus and empathetically offer to help me however they could. Having my struggle be so visible gave people the opportunity to help without feeling like they were offending me.
There’s this illusion we have that most people at work are doing fine. They’re happy, excited about their projects, and leave work feeling fulfilled. They smile and look so put together. I tell people I’m fine all the time and most people respond the same way when you ask how things are going. I’m fine, you’re fine, we’re all fine.
Expect the truth is, many of us aren’t fine.
Not because our lives are horrible and things are crumbling down on us (though that has been known to happen), but because we’re human. The human experience is literally going through the ups and downs of life. Sometimes we’re feeling annoyed at the never ending to-do list. Sometimes we’re stressed because we don’t feel like there’s enough time. Other times we’re excited and happy because we’re spending time with people we love.
Most of the time, we’re anything but fine.
I think it has something to do with our constant drive to grow and keep evolving. As kids, we don’t second guess our value, but as we get older and have more opinions on how life should be, we start questioning our worth. We push ourselves to grow and do hard things. Feeling that sense of accomplishment after we’ve done that hard thing feels amazing and makes us crave it even more.
But the uneasiness of doing the hard things is what creates so much stress and anxiety. Will I be able to do it? Can I handle the pressure? Will it work? What if I fail and everyone knows it? It can show up as mild resistance to what’s happening in your life or as extreme anxiety and fear.
It makes me think about those times when my struggles were visible. When I was 35 weeks pregnant and people would offer me their seat on the bus. Or when I broke down in my 1:1 and my manager let me verbally vomit and complain while empathetically listening.
I wonder if we would be more compassionate with each other if people’s struggles were more visible. I wonder even more if we would be more open about sharing our struggles and allow others to help and support if what we were dealing with on the inside could be seen on the outside.
Next time you are in a meeting, look around at the people in the room and remember that no one is fine. Some of them are doing amazing. Others are really struggling or just a little bit down, but almost no one is “fine.”
We’re all going through something, trying to grow and cope with what life is throwing at us. You will be able to connect, support, and love MORE of the people around you by loving yourself more. It’s okay to not be fine and to love yourself anyways. It is the human experience.
Here I am at 35 weeks pregnant and feeling as uncomfortable as I looked 🙂