It Takes A Lot Of Work To Be A Person

It Takes A Lot Of Work To Be A Person

By Heidi Priebe


In February of 2017, Kim Quindlen penned the brilliant essay, ‘I Am Just Trying To Be A Person.’

This was a really good essay. It was a really good essay not just because it is insightful and relatable, but because I am guessing it surprised a lot of people.

I am guessing that most people assumed Kim Quindlen was not trying to be a person. Her readers may have thought she was trying to be a writer. Her improv fans may have thought she was trying to be a comedian. Maybe her Mom thought she was trying to be a daughter. Maybe her husband thought she was trying to be a wife.

We get very caught up in the roles we want others to play. If we admire them, we want them to be only the specific version of them that we admire. If we dislike them, we want them to solely harbor deplorable personality traits.

And we also get caught up in these ideas of ourselves.

For a long time, I was not really trying to be a person.

For many years of my life, I was trying to be an Author. Or an Internet Personality. Or a Myers-Briggs expert.

These were the things I was trying to be because I needed to define myself in some way. And at the time, they worked out. At the time, they took over my identity and at the time, that felt perfectly okay. It was okay for me. It was okay for other people.

But our roles can only define us for so long.

I, personally, am not trying to be an Author anymore. Or an Internet Personality. Or a Myers-Briggs expert.

Right now, I am trying to be something a hell of a lot harder than that.

Right now, I am trying to be a person.

One who loves people and accepts love in return. One who takes care of their body and mind and mental health and spiritual angst. One who consumes things with an open mind. One who considers them with a critical one.

I am trying to be a person who wakes up in the morning and approaches the day ahead of me with mindfulness and intention and honesty. One who manages my relationships fairly and treats my body respectfully and is tough with myself in the right places and lenient with myself in others.

And it turns out, it’s hard work to be a person.

It is easy to be an internet personality or niche expert. You touch up a few photos and write a few opinionated pieces and answer a few twitter messages and pat yourself on the back for fulfilling all your roles.

It’s easy to follow the rules of whatever a career or a relationship or a given opportunity expects of you, because those things don’t require real moderation or judgement. They just require a set of expectations to be met.

Being a person is harder.

Being a person means making a tough decisions, when the possible outcomes aren’t clear. It means listening to your intuition when your logic is screaming at you not to. It means listening to your logic when your heart is staging a protest.

Being a person means not knowing who to listen to most of the time and having to apply a healthy dose of consideration to just about any opinion you take in.

It means knowing when to stay and when to go. It means knowing when to cash in the chips and go home, and when to stay and put up a fight. It means navigating the uncertain landscape of not knowing which of those things it is time for you to do.

Being a person is hard work.

It’s hard work to keep yourself balanced. It’s hard work to invest in relationships. It’s hard work to fail. It’s hard work to pick yourself back up. It’s hard to say, ‘I’m sorry,’ hard to say, ‘I messed up,’ hard to say, ‘I’m going to try this again.’

Having humility is difficult. Developing self-awareness is difficult. Setting your pride aside seems downright impossible at some points and having the strength to start over can often feel paralyzing.

Because the truth is, clinging to a past version of who we have been is the easiest thing in the world.

Some past version of ourselves already laid out the rules for that. We love this person. We do this job. We laugh at these jokes. We value these opportunities.

Growing into a different version is hard.

Letting ourselves navigate the murky, uncharted waters of who we are going to become next, is one of the most challenging tasks that we will ever take on.

It requires moderation. It requires discipline. It requires trial and error and it requires really hard, really focused work.

Being a person with integrity isn’t easy. Being a person who’s fair and just and loving isn’t easy. Being a person that you can be proud of – despite every obstacle and challenge that comes along and throws you off your game – is one of the goddamned hardest tasks that any of us will ever take on.

But it’s also the most rewarding.

And it’s a whole hell of a lot better than the alternative.

Author: Heidi Priebe

Author. Blogger. Speaker. Founder. Person.