Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hi, I'm Human: We're All in This Together

There is a longstanding philosophical dialogue about how we identify with ourselves and who we are. Most times, if you meet someone new they will tell you their name, profession, and where they are from. 

It's no wonder that many people identify themselves this way. This small talk gives others a glimpse into our lives -where we are coming from and where we are going - without divulging too much personal information. While some believe it is an ethical imperative to not solely identify people by what they do for a living, the aforementioned practices are an accepted form of social etiquette. 

But there is a fine line between formalities and fallacies. 

My experiences in the professional world have shown me that many people are living a facade. Yes, we all fake it at times and many of us are damn good actors. Sometimes, we have to be. But I think that some people need a reminder that we are all human. 

I was recently assigned an article for the magazine I write for that will be featured in an upcoming issue on influential women in the workforce. The article is a profile on a woman who works for a government organization called FEMA which has recently merged with the United States Department of Homeland Security. As I did some research to write the paper, I found myself rolling my eyes at some of the past professional positions she held: 

Applicant Services Manager for the Maryland National Processing Service Center

Disaster Assistance Employee for the Department of the Interior’s South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force

Special Assistant to the Acting Deputy Director of the Inter-Agency National Disaster Housing Task Force

“What does that even mean??” I asked myself rhetorically. 

After further research, I saw it all as a thought-out game. It was as if they are playing one big performance – like on Broadway - with acting and formalities. Characters that have funny names and hide behind masks and big words. It’s one big behemoth amount of business-like bull5#!7. 

Yes, I do understand the need for professionalism and intellectual formalities, and I mean no disrespect to the government agencies that provide for the people, but I try to find a balance so I don't get stuck playing "the game". 

We are emotional creatures. Show some life! Unfortunately, we live in a society where many people suppress there emotions because they think emotions are a sign of weakness. This is false and if used properly, our emotions can single-handedly be the greatest tool we can work with in our lives. 

Personally, I don’t think that we can afford to be too haughty. Many of the commodities that we enjoy in society are relatively new: the gadgets, the fashion, the media revolution, even basic liberties and forms of civility. Not too long ago women and blacks didn't have equal rights and in many places throughout the world they still don't. The terrors of the holocaust and other wars and genocides throughout the world can still be felt today and in parts of the world atrocious, barbaric, and simply unfair acts take place on a daily basis. The fact that I can type this up on a subway, sharing a train with women, Asians, Moslems, blacks, Europeans and countless others is nothing short of miraculous. 

I’m not minimizing our growth as a people but our history should put things into perspective.
Aside from the newfound glory we experience from our technological treasures and other freedoms, there are universal bonds that connect us all.

Many of us have experienced our fair share of teenage angst, love and loss, struggle and internal battle, pain and sensation, joy and laughter, self-doubt, and hard work. Uncertainty and the inability to predict the future is a universal phenomenon. Strangers can share a laugh. It’s part of the human experience – which we share. We all make mistakes. We are all somebody’s child. We have a heart in our chests! Why so serious? LIGHTEN UP.

There are 7 billion people in the world, yet we cannot even agree on how we all got here. Sure we may have managed to find work, meaning, love, and fun but we were all thrown into existence, many times having to figure it out by ourselves. Rarely do we stop and think that we are moving 1000 mph on earth (trip on that!) and that it comes full circle every 24 hours. We are small. Don't get-ego death but it is true.

As my good friend so eloquently put it:

"Everybody poops." 

So don't hesitate to let your guard down and truly connect with the people around you. We may have a lot more in common than you think.

Surely, we are all unique. But the people who truly understand their worth and are confident with who they REALLY are, don’t spend their energy playing pretend.

We are all part of the human race. Ideally, we can all find equilibrium and know when to put up our proverbial fences and when to let our guard down. How to not be too open and never be too closed. When to be professional and when to have personality.

Many thinkers have pleaded for the use of empathy and emotional intelligence in our interactions. These useful tools can strengthen ties that bind us together as emotional beings and pave the way for closer human connections that we all crave. 

We are all human. We are all growing. We are all in this thing together.


  1. Interesting that you can get all this from reading a list of credentials. Although I agree that people sometimes get too caught up in the narishkeit of the world, as well as their professional lives I do think there is a validity in having a professional life. I don't think that listing "learned to burp my baby" is something you put on your resume and that is because very honestly business is business. It's professional, to the point, and that's all it's worth. It's getting something done. And it's a very small part of who you are as a person. How much you let it take over your life is your decision.

  2. very true and well put.
    I like your fire!
    I guess that it's a juggle act to balance work and family and social and personal lives.
    Honestly, I just can't take the formalities. The rigid, proper walls that we put up as if noone recognizes that its a game. We're all human.
    As with all things, this too requires a balance.