In the last two and a half years, I consider self-acceptance to be one of my greatest personal successes. It's not perfect, nor is it entirely full, but it is there.
I'm deep. I'm emotional. I'm quirky. And somewhat feisty/stubborn. I could name a lot more, but those are just the main ones that I frequently see in myself.
It has taken a lot of time and soul-searching, but I no longer have any fear or shame towards those qualities. In other words, I own them.
In previous posts, I discussed how for many years, I disliked myself physically. When puberty hit, the emotional aspects began to factor in. It wasn't so much the peer influence as it was being told that I needed to change (or what I was interpreting at the time). So I would try and try and try again, but I always ended up right back where I started. This ridiculous cycle went on again and again for close to six years.
There was no epiphany-esque moment; It was recent, sometime back over the course of last semester. I asked myself, "what do you have to prove, and who do you have to prove it to?"
It was largely to shut people up and get them off my back, to put it bluntly. I also wanted to feel some sort of normalcy, because I felt like I constantly stood out in my former years.
None of it felt right to me.
That's when I began to learn how to stay true to myself, and to be comfortable with admitting those truths. As I said above, I am not prim and proper all the time, nor will I ever be. I refuse to sugarcoat my life or my experiences, unless it's not an appropriate time to discuss those things. To add to that, I have an independent streak that tends to drive those closest to me absolutely crazy.
This is most likely why billions upon billions of us struggle with interacting with and relating to one another; either we don't know how to own who we are, or we're terrified of not being completely accepted if we do.
But I do understand why it can be difficult; we're living in a world where it's easier to hide behind a social network or a text message. So-called experts are spitting out handfuls of "advice" that if you don't look or act a certain way, you're not and never will be good enough. Personally, I have struggled with becoming easily intimidated by those that appear to have it all together and never admit that they're unhappy at times or are having a bad day. It makes me feel like if I did open up to them, they wouldn't be able to handle it; or perhaps they would understand at first, but then hold it against me in some way later down the road.
The reality of life is that we all have pain. We all have baggage and issues that we're presently dealing with, or will have to deal with at some point. It's just that some are better at sweeping those things under the rug and acting like they're not there. Or, they're really private and only up to those that they're completely comfortable with. And then there are those who just give off an unapproachable or awkward vibe, regardless of the other person's confidence.
Yet, the only thing I can control is the way I act and how I respond to a situation. I do my best to make sure people know that they're safe around me and they can confide in me, if needed. I'm not going to tell them that they're a bad person or that they're wrong. They should be able to be themselves and express their own thoughts and feelings.
If I want to be safe and completely comfortable around other people, I need to be able to do the same for them as well.
I wonder what the world would be like if breaking down the vulnerability barrier wasn't so hard. Just imagine who you could inspire or encourage by telling your story, without any fears or inhibitions. More importantly, just imagine what kind of miracle or healing could take place, whether it be in your own life or someone else's.
While there are appropriate times and places to intimately share one's personal history, that does not mean it has to be completely avoided. I know that I myself make the whole experience/process a lot harder than it needs to be. I spend more time focusing on what I say or crafting how I say it, rather than just putting it out there. And realistically, a lot of my insecurities are probably all in my head.
Self-ownership is not something that just happens naturally or overnight. It's a gradual process of being honest about what makes you unique, both in body and in mind. More so, it's about learning to love those things, and allowing yourself to shine, while also being humble.
As you discover who you are, set those things free. Don't keep your desires, your pain, your passions all tied up in one big knot, terrified of what the rest of the world will say about it. Write it down, make a proclamation, do whatever you have to do to allow them to become real and worth discussing.
Own it. Be It. Live it out!
There is a dark side to all of it, which can be a challenge to overcome, and even get to the point of being catastrophic. However, I have decided into making that a second addition to this post, since I've already written so much as it is. But I'm curious, what kind of struggles do readers have when it comes to this particular topic? Thoughts?