ONLY Human?

by Haider on February 25, 2010 · 10 comments

in Human Nature

Karen Hill is a personal development blogger over at Dreamin’ the Life, who writes about subjects ranging from facing your fears to the wisdom of Will Smith.

On 21 November 2009, Karen announced to her readers (in very colorful language) that she’s an alcoholic.

While Karen did a great job of covering up her secret, and managed to offer great advice and personal insights with her readers, without them ever knowing she was wrestling with her own dark demons; people usually respond to such news with a default response: she’s only human.

Such responses tend to define human beings by what they lack, rather than what they possess.

There are many people who wish to see others fail so they can reassure themselves that it’s OK for them to fail. They hunt for weaknesses in other people so they can avoid working on their own.

It’s not our weaknesses that make us human, but our strengths.

When I read Karen’s confession, I didn’t think: Phew! I knew she has weaknesses!

I thought: Wow! How many personal development writers have the guts to speak honestly to their readers, and the courage to publicly confront their weaknesses?

I’m not sure if I have what it takes to do what Karen did.

What makes Karen human isn’t her alcoholism.

It’s her honesty. It’s her courage. It’s her dedication to personal growth.

Being human isn’t the default. We must strive to be human.

Being human is heroic, and it’s very rare to find people willing to do what it takes to be human.

Karen is human for the strengths she demonstrates. Her alcoholism is what she chips away to reveal what she’s made of.

If you’re interested in literature that portrays a heroic view of Man, you might like to read my take on Rudyard Kipling’s “If”

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chris February 26, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Thanks for this. It’s ironic that people often put down the kinds of personal revelations you’re talking about as weak or self-indulgent or symbolic of the “Oprah confessional culture,” when in fact they take a huge amount of courage.

2 Haider February 26, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Welcome to my humble (blogging) abode, Chris! :D

I read Karen’s confession last November, and it’s still stuck in my mind as an example of courage (hence this blog post).

Many people don’t know what it takes to make such a confession. Admitting you have a problem to yourself is difficult enough!

3 Karen February 27, 2010 at 4:43 am

Wow. I really appreciate the kind words, Haider.

I think you can tell someone’s honesty in their writing, and without that authenticity giving personal development advice just seems fake and hollow. I prefer to read people who are transparent with their faults because it is more interesting to read, and shows strength to show your weaknesses. And we all have them…

Glad that my little contribution to the blogosphere had an impact on you… thank you for writing about it. :)

4 elena daciuk
Twitter: elenadaciuk
February 27, 2010 at 5:27 am

i remember reading karen’s confession like it was yesterday…the one thing that resonated with me from that post…was this…what a strong woman…it takes a lot more strength to be completely honest and vulnerable…it is through wonderful people like karen…that others can possibly say…”hey…maybe i can do it too” whether it be struggling with alchoholism, weight issues, whatever…it gives hope and encouragement to others…bravo karen!
elena daciuk´s last blog ..men’s corner: belt gone awry… My ComLuv Profile

5 Haider February 27, 2010 at 11:50 am

Hi Karen!

Thanks for stopping by. :D

I definitely agree with you about honesty in writing. Besides, knowing what the view is like from the top of the mountain isn’t as useful as showing us how to get there. Personal growth is riddled with challenges, and knowing about them really helps.

Your “little” contribution makes a big difference in how we approach personal growth, and I wanted to make sure people see it for what it is: a strength rather than a weakness, and to realize that it is these acts of honesty and courage that we should aspire to express. :)

6 Haider February 27, 2010 at 11:55 am

Hi Elena,

I absolutely agree with you. And before we can say “I can do it,” we can actually admit that we have a problem we need to address.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

7 Melissa Karnaze February 28, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Haider, I really like your take on this. You’re right, it’s harder to be human, find that inner strength, honesty, and courage to face yourself and your life. What a balanced way to describe an often unbalanced expression.
Melissa Karnaze´s last blog ..Don’t Take Someone Else’s Addiciton Personally My ComLuv Profile

8 Haider March 1, 2010 at 12:12 am

Hi Melissa!

Nice to see you here! :D

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and I’m glad you liked this post.

Looking forward to your articles, as always. :)

9 Bloggylife March 22, 2010 at 1:04 pm

I confess sometimes when I hear about others struggles, I breathe and say so it’s not only me that is completely lost and haven’t figured it out!!!

Also people confessing open doors to others having the same problem and are in their own situation, for example, who’d you’d rather seek advice from, someone who went through what you’re struggling with or someone who shoots advice :P

10 Haider March 22, 2010 at 7:07 pm

I think it’s understandable to experience some relief that others face the same struggles you do. It gives you a clearer picture of your own issues, in that they are not exclusive to you, and you can find solutions from people who have experienced the same problems.

But we shouldn’t simply comfort ourselves that we are similar to others. That’s only the first step to finding the solution. Getting too comfortable on that first step is unhealthy, and which leads us to find pleasure in our weaknesses, rather than aspire to build our strengths.

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