Black and White? No Thanks, I’ll Live in the Gray Area

I had another epiphany at the gym today.  Yes, that happens to me a LOT.  I was doing squats.  I am really good at squats.  I have super strong legs so I busted those out no problem.  The next station was a shoulder press.  I am…. uh, NOT a rockstar at upper body stuff.  I climbed into the machine, gave a giant push (and unfortunately a very audible ugly grunt – got some funny looks), then forced out ten rather sorry reps.  There was a great deal of sweating and cursing.  My left arm even stopped working entirely near the end.

There I went, from feeling like a Powerful, Amazing Conqueror… *record scratch* …to feeling like a frustrated, struggling weakling.  In the span of three minutes.  Hi, I’m Kristen.  I’m strong AND weak.  And that, my friends, is a paradox. 

I am really good at playing the piano.  AND I really suck compared to many.

I am quiet.  AND I tell loud stories, have a loud laugh, and am loud when lifting weights.

I am a healthy eater.  AND some days all I consume is wine and peanut butter.

I am polite.  AND I may use inappropriate language if you cut me off in traffic.

I am active.  AND there are times I am stuck in my sweatpants and Kindle for hours.

I am kind.  AND I get insecure and say or do unkind things.


Paradoxes are uncomfortable at first because our knee-jerk reaction is to, you know, classify things.  Maybe it’s symbolic that I play the piano-  I used to prefer black-and-white thinking.  It seemed easier.  Once I classified a person (including myself), I could proceed to make assumptions about who they were.  “That dude is crazy.  That woman is a liar.  That girl is an airhead.”  That doesn’t work in the long run though.  As a fascinated observer of human behavior, I have noticed that nobody falls completely into one category all the time.  Nobody acts, thinks, and speaks in only the black or white.  You’ve witnessed this, I know it.  For example, have you seen somebody who is usually calm and collected have a meltdown?  Or a person who is known for being brash and abrasive say something profoundly thoughtful?


Ponder: Is it possible for a person to be….

  • honest AND dishonest?
  • happy AND sad?
  • struggling AND succeeding?
  • confident AND fearful?
  • lonely AND not alone?
  • inspired AND tired?
  • deep-thinking AND light-hearted?
  • strong AND weak?


Of course it is possible.  In fact, all those seemingly incongruent states of being can exist simultaneously.  That’s when the dial moves into the gray areas.  Today, I find paradoxical thinking comforting rather than disconcerting.  It relieves the pressure to be polarized.  The world is not black and white.  It is impossible to label another human as “all good” or “all bad.”  We are all existing somewhere in the gray.

So, relax and settle into the paradoxes.  In fact, look for them!  Like, “Hey, I am an incredible badass AND a gigantic goofball!”

I would love to hear what paradoxes you find in your own life!  As always, your discussion on the Facebook page is very welcome, as are private messages.  Your feedback gives me all sorts of ideas for blog topics and coaching material.

Thank you for sharing your experiences with me.  We are all each others’ teachers AND students.  <– Hey, look, another one! ❤️


Related posts:

Why I Quit Being A Judgmental A-hole

Perfection:  It’s Not A Thing You Guys

Nope, I Don’t Always Take My Own Advice

Judgment is Heavy; Let It Go