Why I Don't Consider Myself a Human Being
I don’t consider myself a human being.
You’re probably thinking: “What? How is that even possible?”
Trust me, it was a shock to me too. And it was one of my biggest revelations going into 2019.
I was hanging out with some friends and we needed something to do. It was early January in the PNW and so anything outside was automatically out of the question. We were hiding inside, away from the dismal oppression that is grey January skies.
We had watched way too much TV and needed a diversion. That’s when it hit me!
As the horrible conversationalist I am, I have a Pinterest board (it’s secret, don’t even bother checking) where I save interesting questions to ask people in case I’m ever at a loss. Or to review periodically so that I can appear intelligent and engaging when I meet new people.
I suggested we go through some of the questions and learn new things about each other. My friends readily agreed, and we dove in. This led to an entire afternoon and evening (I kid you not, we did this for like six straight hours) of awkward and insightful questions, and lots of laughter.
Somewhere in the middle of this activity, I had my revelation. All because of one simple question:
Do you consider yourself to be a human being or a human doing?
In essence, do you consider your inherent value to be resultant of who you are as a human, or resultant from what you do?
My friends went around the circle and each said that they consider themselves a human being.
When it was my turn, but before I could even answer, one of them spoke up, “well, we all know that you consider yourself a human doing.” Everyone else agreed, and we moved on. I didn’t even have to open my mouth.
But they were right. The truth was plain and simple. It was not something that I was going to deny, and clearly, I couldn’t have even if I wanted to. But acknowledging that, and the fact that those around me clearly were aware of it too, stuck with me.
I’ve spent many hours since then considering my answer. I know I am not alone in defining myself by the things that I do or accomplish, even if I was on that afternoon.
Pretty much everything in my life points to being a human doing. I graduated from college at 19 and launched my organizing business two months later. I currently work as a paralegal, run my organizing business, and work at a startup doing research, marketing, and web design, plus all the other things I do as part of my daily life. I read constantly and forced myself to take a break when I finished 22 books in March alone. I am always consuming, growing, going, going.
I know it is part of my nature. Part of who I am. I have always been this way.
I know dozens of people who have tried to start journaling, but I started one random day when I was 12 and haven’t missed a day since.
I don’t want this to sound like a list of accomplishments or for you to think that I’m bragging. There are hundreds of people who have done better things than me, are smarter than me, and are much further ahead of me in life.
But I try not to think about those people. I am in constant competition with myself to do more. Better. Faster.
Whether or not being a human doing is a big deal, I still don’t know. My friends seem to have come to terms with it. They saw it in me, even if I couldn’t label it in myself.
Now, before people get upset that I don’t see the inherent worth and value of humans, let me make it quite clear - I do. I don’t measure other people by the things that they do or accomplish - they are people, and that is enough to establish their worth for me.
And I will even admit, if something were to happen to me where I could no longer be constantly working and accomplishing, I think I would still be able to recognize my value as a human being. With or without being able to be a “doing”. It would be hard, but I could do it - now whether working through that and being able to value myself as a human being is something I would accomplish and thus would fuel my “human doing”ness, is another matter.
A lot of this struggle could go back to being an Upholder, but I don’t think it is strictly that. I think it is something that many people can identify with, tendencies aside.
I struggled to write this post because I wasn’t sure how to end it. I’ve been thinking about this idea for months and writing this blog post for weeks. I don’t think I can tie this all neatly with a bow and hand it to you - processing complete. It is something I am continuing to think about and explore.
If anything though, I’ve realized that no good will come from disliking this side of myself. Rather, I can use it for good. My human doing-ness is something that keeps me working, learning, and growing.
In all honesty, it is part of (or all of) why I started this blog. But it is also why I don’t post regularly. It’s not that I can’t stick to a posting schedule, it’s that I don’t want to. If I did, I know it would take over my life. I would become obsessed with creating content every day, or three times a week, or whatever arbitrary number I set for myself.
I know this goes against like the number one rule of blog writing (actually, no, that’s to have your blog hosted on the Wordpress platform, but I already ignored that one too!), but I can’t do it any other way and fully enjoy it.
So maybe that’s the second lesson. I can work and do and do, but it is also important that I recognize when I shouldn’t anymore. I need to set boundaries.
Oh wait, is that just another thing for me to learn how to do and accomplish? Here we go again.
And I think that therein is the final lesson. I am a human doing. I will always see life through that lens, and that is okay! But not only can I use that to work and accomplish, I can use it to rest and rejuvenate (I will admit, this is still one I’m working on).
This idea hit me fully the other day when I was browsing Pinterest (yeah, Pinterest is the source of some of my biggest revelations - don’t judge me). I came across this quote from Sam Brown and it crystallized this idea:
“There are times in life when you just need to slow down, take a step back and breathe. And there are times when you need to buckle up, drink some coffee and get to work. So how do you tell when to rest and when to push through? I truly have no idea. But at least make a decision. Rest without guilt or work without complaint, those are your two options.”
So whether I am working or resting (both of which I work really hard at “doing”), I need to fully commit to it. That way I can get the most out of both. No more coming back from vacation feeling even more tired because I spent most of the time working on my website or trying to get through five books. No more interrupting my dedicated work time to browse Pinterest (it’s hard, but I can do it).
I can’t just accept my human doing-ness, I need to fully embrace it. I don’t know if I’m quite there yet, but it’s something else I’m working on doing.
Until next time,