It's Simple. We're All Complicated

In praise of human paradox

“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be.”

Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This line has always had a very special place in my heart. It reassures me that I'm not alone when I feel simultaneously happy and sad, strong and vulnerable, resourceful and frustrated.

How would it be, for a moment, to stop fretting about being paradoxical? And just to celebrate the unfathomability of our minds. We're probably all 99.9% the same, but in that 0.1% is contained so much of what makes our lives worthwhile. We don’t make friends or fall in love with people in general, we make friends or fall in love with people in particular. For their uniquenesses and idiosyncrasies. So perhaps not being able to make sense of ourselves is something we should treasure rather than fear.

The richest human experiences are those in which we try to bridge the gap to another mind we're attracted to but can't ever really fathom. There's no joy in trying to understand someone else completely. The joy is in appreciating that none of us quite adds up.

My friend Justin Wise puts it beautifully:

“We’re all sadness, joy, brokenness, longing. And yet we pretend to be anything but. We’re prepared to visit exquisite harshness on ourselves just for being who we find ourselves to be. What a kindness it would be to give up our attempts to impress ourselves and others with our togetherness and instead stand in wonder at the marvellous, incomplete, ragged and exquisitely beautiful mystery that we are.”

Sophie Howarth is Founder of the Department Store for the Mind. Follow her @howarthsophie.