It’s hard being a human being. We could be forgiven for seeing a bird, cat, dog, squirrel, or ant, and think, “Jesus, why couldn’t I have born that?”
Not that wild animals around us don’t suffer lives of hardship. We know they do. But most likely they don’t feel loss, shame, self-consciousness, anxiety, depression, loneliness, rejection, personal insecurity, dread of life, dread of death, and countless other experiences of gut-wrenching vulnerability like we do.
And, we feel these things, often, thanks to having brains that create uniquely complex minds that create utter mental havoc. When you think about it, one has to be a badass just to get through life, any life, as a human being.
Am I depressing you? It’s not my intent. Rather, I want you to give yourself credit. To realize, as I suggest, that you’re a badass, a true, bona-fide badass, just for deciding to face, to endure, the daily challenges and torments unique to us human beings.
One thing most of us contemplate from time to time, if not regularly, is death, including our capacity to end our lives. Suicidal contemplation is far more common than assumed, and not itself a sign of psychopathology.
Most thoughtful people, when suffering deeply, reflect on suicide. The miracle is that millions upon millions of us, suffering immensely and sometimes chronically, choose not to kill ourselves.
It’s one of the marvels, in fact, of human beings—choosing to live, to soldier on, when giving up, when conceding to what can feel like our unendurable exhaustion, seems so tempting, so seductive an escape from our pain.
This is precisely what makes you a badass—the simultaneously simple and complex decision to endure day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, your old and new internal and external hardships. How do you do it? Why do you do it?
At the end of the day, it’s remarkable and admirable that you do it.
I don’t mean to offend those who experience life purely as a gift, who feel nothing but gratitude for having been plucked without consent, as we all have, from non-existence into this particular micro-transitory existence we call life—human life. It’s a fascinating phenomenon that this taste of accidental, improbable, non-consensual existence leaves many of us in terror of returning to non-existence, as though we didn’t do just fine non-existing for billions of years.
But the truth is, for most people, even this millisecond taste of life as human beings is hard. Very hard. It’s often painful for a million reasons. It’s often brutal, psychologically and physically.
I want to salute you for having the courage, the inner resources, the coping mechanisms, to endure your life every day that you do. It’s no small accomplishment, and I’m challenging you to own it.