Category Archives: humanity

The ‘One Size Fits All’ Myth

Life is not “one size fits all.” It never has been, and never will be… thankfully. Our health, our bodies, our faith (to name a few) – they’re all beautifully individual and unique, as they were meant to be, despite Madison Avenue’s best efforts to convince us otherwise.

Where we have found overlap and commonality, we have created fellowship or community. But those communities survive (and thrive) not because of our similarities, but because of our differences.

Unfortunately, so many industries are built up (and thrive) on this notion of convincing us that we are all meant to be the same, or “within normal limits.” [That’s actually a term used in medicine: WNL, and that’s what it stands for. But the internal joke among medical professionals is that it can also mean: “we never looked.” Sigh.]

We strive for “normal” because it’s what we’re told we should be. Normal height and weight, normal mental health, normal eating habits, normal exercise routine, normal grades (which, interestingly, translates to “above average”).

But what if you don’t fit into the “normal” categories you’re inundated with on a daily basis (and most of us don’t, in one way or another)? What if your genetics, DNA, pant size, skin type, or blood type don’t follow the guidelines for “normal?” What do you do then?

Well, if you buy into the paradigm of “normal” or “one size fits all” thinking, you begin to bend over backwards to become anything that fits the mold. Unfortunately.

Because humanity is anything but “one size.” It’s not meant to be. Just like no tigers have the exact same stripes, humans are meant to be as diverse as possible, with as many expressions and combinations we can have. We’re meant to flourish and grow, ever-expanding… exponentially. In fact, the only “normal” thing about being human is being unique.

Being uniquely you is what creates the diversity that allows communities to thrive. If everyone were a doctor, we’d fail. If everyone were a teacher, an artist, a banker – we’d fail. We need each person to be who they are… to be the cog in the wheel they are meant to be, and there’s nothing “normal” or “one-size-fits-all” about that. Being unique is healthy, striving for sameness is not.

More importantly, it’s the very nature of the Universe to be expansive, to continually be changing and growing. (Look at evolution!) So, to subscribe to a notion that promotes sameness is to go against the very nature of our being, and makes life so much harder. And who wants that? Yuk!

The connections we create in our overlap is what makes the journey more rewarding. When you find someone who loves the same things you do, you celebrate and form a bond. Hooray!But it’s the differences we get to experience in one another that actually makes us human.

What You Do Is Not Who You Are

When we meet someone for the first time, we often ask: What do you do? The response almost always starts with “I am a _________,” which is actually a statement of who we are. But that’s not who we are… that’s what we do.

Example: I am a writer, a life coach, an author, a teacher, a therapist… the list can go on and on. I am a sister, a daughter, an aunt, a friend. It continues: I am a woman, an optimist, a lover, a truth-teller. You can see where I’m going. But none of those things ARE me. They are what I do, or they are who I am in relation to someone or something else. And it’s the same for every single person on the planet.

We need these titles or labels in order to relate to one another and form some sort of basis for understanding, communication, and connection. However, once that’s established, it seems that we would be better served if we dropped all labels entirely and remember that everyone we meet is a human, who probably experiences a lot of the same emotions and thoughts we experience, regardless of how they define their “what,” how they dress, or even what they believe (to name just a few “categories”).

We are all so beautifully and amazingly different in our expression of self. And yet, at our cores we have uniquely human experiences in common:

  • the shared grief of loss,
  • the unifying joy of celebration,
  • the collective concern inherent in fear, and
  • the contentment of love and connection.

I am fortunate. My work affords me the opportunity to remember this truth time and again. Regardless of all the measurable demographics or categories we have to define ourselves, the commonality of our emotional lives never ceases to amaze me.

In fact, it’s the miracle of being human that we can be infinitely diverse, while also being incredibly similar. Thankfully. Perhaps, then, we can celebrate this gift by asking people what they do, and then following it up by getting to know who they actually are. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?  🙂