Before we really begin, I want to make this clear. This isn’t a brag, humble or otherwise. I’m not one of those people who boasts to his giggling friends about non-PC he is, a bold declaration of his refusal to be anything but the man he is. I’m a phenomenally flawed person who constantly fails in a multitude of ways to live up to the person he would like to be.
And I’d like to start the New Year by acknowledging that.
In part because by putting it down, maybe I can fix some of it. And in part because I spend a lot of time with this site, sometimes tongue in cheek and sometimes deadly seriously, arguing with certainty for a variety of positions. So a little honest reflection on my multitude of failures only seems right and fair.
On that note, let’s start, shall we. Just some of the ways I am problematic.
-I believe strongly in the importance of diversity, affirmative action, and other policies of inclusion that strive to ensure a multitude of perspectives, experiences, and so on. However, if I am honest, my circle of friends and loved ones is fairly homogenous in racial, sexual identity, gender identity, religious, and socioeconomic makeup.
-I continue to consume works of (art or commerce or both, depending on your perspective) from individuals and companies who have engaged or currently engage in practices and behaviors I find abhorrent.
-I have definite ideas about how people should parent and how marriage should works. I can’t count the number of times I’ve fell far short on adhering to those ideas.
-I spend hours every week trying to help clients feel better about how they look while feeling terrible about my reflection more often than not.
-I recognize the corrosive nature of objectification and I probably don’t have a day when I don’t access my male gaze.
-Charity and volunteerism is important but I am jealous and defensive with both my time and money.
-I benefit from white privilege every day, probably multiple times a day. Same with male. I rarely notice, ever rarer do I address it beyond noticing it.
Ok, at some point, this becomes an exercise in self-flagellation so I’ll stop here. There’s acknowledging one’s flaws and then there’s punishing oneself just to feel pain, you know?
We all have a list like this, some bigger some smaller, but we all have that collection of things that we do or don’t do despite our aspirations and ideals. And we always will. I’m not perfect, you aren’t and neither is anyone you know or love. It helps to take stock of that. The point of looking at it isn’t to dwell in it, to let ourselves marinate in our guilt and shame for the lives we wish we lived. The point is by giving form to it, be it in writing or by voice, it makes our shortcomings less nebulous, less vast.
Will I improve on everything above this coming year? I hope so. But chance are, there are some I won’t move the needle and others that I’ll get worse at. This is the nature of being human. But if I can see that, if I can live with it in myself, perhaps I can live with it in others. Hopefully, people can with it in me.
I take stock, ultimately, not just as contrition but because by acknowledging I have human failings, I get better at being human. And I, hopefully, get better at letting others be human too.
This seems a weird place to say it, but Happy New Year everyone. Make your list. And take the time to make the other list. The list about the who you are that is worthy of love, that gives love, that makes others feel good and laugh. And then just seize the hell out of 2016. For both those parts of you.