While staying with a friend recently, I offered to buy her a meal or some groceries in order to repay for my stay. In response she affirmed, “Your presence itself is a gift.”
While this sentiment felt beautiful to receive, it has also been difficult to believe in my internal evaluation. All my life, I have felt there are ways I need to externally perform in order to mean or matter, and that if I do not live up to these expectations, I have somehow failed.
For instance, in my working life, I often feel that I come across as irresponsible: I perform my job duties with excellence, but there is only one job in my life I have held more than a single year, and that was only because I tried and failed to secure a different job. Similarly, in my romantic life, only one of my relationships has lasted more than a period of months: there, too, I broke off my commitment after several years.
When I analyze my reasons for leaving these situations, they amount to a single, common denominator: I simply lose the inner feeling that the commitment is “right” for me, and thus I pursue other pastures.
As a result of this way of being, I have sometimes been called selfish, impulsive… some of my worst fears about myself and my own harshest self-judgements. In the wake of incurring these appellations from others, I can feel weak, hedonistic, or not quite cut out for this world… or I can feel like less than a man.
And yet there is a logic that perfectly explains the way I behave, and that opens onto a deeper form of commitment, one I live up to despite and through these situational evolutions. In this form of commitment–and in the very same manner my friend affirmed for me–my presence itself is a gift; it does not matter for how long I remain in a single situation, so long as I am fully “there” while immersed. This system of logic feels relieving to me, and it is called Human Design.
Human Design enumerates personality types according to how they interact with energy, and my type, the Projector, is one of several types that possesses no intrinsic energy source. For this reason, the Projector lacks the capacity to initiate action; instead, the Projector must “wait to be invited,” and equally its role is to recognize and invite action from others.
In this way, the Projector butts heads with the entire model by which work in our society is constructed, a model ideal for another of Human Design’s types, the Generator. Unlike the Projector, the Generator possesses its own energy source, and not only that, but can initiate action; in this way, the Generator is suited for a world which requires 9-to-5 work, and which encourages people to “pull themselves up by the bootstraps,” “just do it,” and so many other initiatory slogans.
When I cease to feel resonant with a situation, and decide to move elsewhere, it is not because I am lazy, noncommittal, not fully a “man,” or any other of the standards by which I have judged myself; it is simply that my energy is no longer called for in the present situation, and I sense that I am being invited elsewhere. This is a subtle phenomenon, but for me it is both palpable and unignorable.
Similarly, there is another way in which it is true that my presence is “a gift.” In Human Design, an additional facet of one’s personality structure is what’s called the profile type, a numerical system by which one receives one of twelve possible combinations. According to these combinations, one bears both a primary type (that which is most conscious), and a secondary type (that which is least conscious, but for that reason sometimes more pervasive). In my own profile, I am a 6/2, meaning that my conscious side is a “role model” (the 6) and my unconscious side a “hermit” (the 2).
Distinct from other types, the 6 category is defined by living its life in three discrete phases: in the first phase, the 6 gathers information and lives chaotically, exploring trial and error; in the second phase, which begins around age 30, the 6 reflects upon the first 30 years’ yield of experience; and in the final phase, which begins around age 50, the 6 distills this experience into wisdom and attains its full expression as a role model.
In tension with the role model aspect, my unconscious designation, the 2’s “hermit,” strives for solitude and takes over in those periods when I feel stressed or overwhelmed.
Interestingly and ultimately, the 6’s sole duty is to act as itself, because it is precisely by virtue of authenticity that the 6 constitutes a role model in the lives of others. By way of both making decisions and unlocking modes of behavior that feel foreign or inaccessible to other types, the 6 frees up those types to be themselves, meaning that in some ways it is the 6’s duty to render an oddity, to live in an unconventional manner. In this way, precisely in those moments when I feel that I am “failing” to live up to expectations, when I judge myself as noncommittal for moving on from a situation, I am in fact playing my predestined role: I am enabling others to synchronize with their more authentic selves, by myself demonstrating a unique set of values and an inner code of conduct.
Within my inner domain, what does it mean to echo the wonderful compliment my friend gave me, that my presence itself is a gift? Practically, it means that when I choose to leave a relationship, a job, or any other ephemeral station, that transition in itself does not signify I am giving up; rather, it signifies that the period during which I could authentically give to this situation has elapsed, and in a sense, my moving on itself composes another form of gift. By moving on, I am showing and thus granting others, too, permission to follow their own inner compasses, breaking down the sense of a unilateral life path for us all and conferring the message that each life can and should be unique. By acting as my authentic self, I enable others to do the same; my feeling that I have failed in the eye of conventionality is an illusion and something to be let go.