by Robert Guzzo, co-founder of Handcrafted Honey Bee
Stacia and I were at a party recently and we had the chance to catch up with another couple that we really love (let’s call them Ed and Jen). We spent the whole time together with them, joking and laughing, sharing stories about our kids and theirs, and digging into more serious topics too. It was a great party, made even better by the conversations we had with these two wonderful people.
As we were leaving, Stacia mentioned how much she always enjoys talking with Jen. She started to list all of Jen’s best qualities: interesting, funny, beautiful, cool, smart, compassionate, an amazing mom, easy to talk with, and–to top it off–incredibly nice.
Stacia said to me: “She’s kind of the complete package…yet somehow, she’s my friend.”
I saw Ed the next day and told him how much fun we had had with him and Jen. Then I mentioned Stacia’s comment to him, and he just laughed. When I asked Ed why he was laughing, he replied: “Because Jen said something very similar to me about Stacia.”
Each of us has a friend or acquaintance who seems to have it all together and makes it look easy. You look at that person and think, “How does she do it?” You marvel at her attributes and wonder just how a person like that is even possible…and you can’t quite figure out what she’s doing hanging out with you.
But here’s the thing about The Complete Package–she only exists if you ignore 90% of who she is. Ask anyone who has been described as “having it all together,” and she’ll tell you that it doesn’t feel that way to her. Read some of Stacia’s latest posts (or even some older ones), and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Forget having it all together: some of the people you admire most may actually be struggling to hold it all together.
And it’s quite likely that someone you know looks at you and wonders how you do it all. You’re probably laughing at me right now, thinking, “If you only knew…” But that’s just the thing. We don’t. We can’t know the full story of anybody’s life but our own.
Elevating someone on a pedestal and seeing them as the complete package is just as narrowly focused and short-sighted as dismissing someone as a “total crackpot” or writing someone off as a “complete mess.” If we think we have people all figured out, we miss out on the chance to understand them more fully, to be surprised by them, to learn and to grow by knowing them deeply. By focusing on them as a “package,” we fail to appreciate their gifts.
It doesn’t have to be that way. When you find yourself neatly categorizing someone you know, just pause and recognize the invitation to get to know that person better. Go deeper. Be open to everything you learn about them. And have the courage to open up to them in return–because you never know how that person is seeing you.
Packaging is nice. But don’t forget to look inside; you might discover some pretty amazing gifts.