“Go ahead,” said the dark voice, “accept yourself, accept yourself, accept yourself. You’ll see, it’s who you were meant to be.”
I remember being in school and really not fitting in. I don’t know whether it was the tuna sandwiches thrown at my head by angry girlfriends, or the fact I found most lunch break subject matter obnoxious among my peers. Somehow, I always felt like I was just a wrong piece to their puzzle and I spent a long time pointlessly trying to chisel my piece’s corners to fit theirs. It didn’t work.
I look at my three year old son and wonder how I’m going to talk about fitting in and sticking out. Unlike other parents, I dread that talk more than I do the sex talk. How do you tell someone that sticking out is what you’re meant to do after being unsuccessful at fitting in? That trying to fit in is nothing more than a stepping stone on your path to self discovery; that it’s a mandatory part of the journey. How do I say:
“Take my word for this, accept yourself. You won’t now, but you will soon… and when you do, it’ll be complete, honest, and irrevocable. And everything will finally seem right in the world.”
Accept Yourself: The Good, the Bad, and the Silly
There are a lot of great things I’ve had to learn to accept about myself; one being that I’m attractive. Another being that I’m smart and a quick learner. I know it doesn’t seem like those things should require acceptance, but they did. Being attractive has had a huge effect on my life, both positive and negative. I’ve had to learn when to acknowledge it, when to put it to use, and most importantly, when to pretend it didn’t exist.
My intelligence, another seemingly innocent trait, drew a huge wedge between me and some of my friends. For a long time, when it mattered, I’d ‘dumb down’ to fit in. I didn’t want to ever come off as a know-it-all, especially because most of my friends weren’t the type to admit their flaws and ask for tutoring. So, when they bitched about not ‘getting’ something, I did, too. Ew, math? Chem?
The truth is, I not only enjoyed math and science (and learning altogether), but I was also really, really good at it.
Accepting the fact I was good at two things, looking good and being smart, without putting as much effort in as everyone else, was hard. I didn’t want to walk the line between confidence and arrogance and fall onto the wrong side.
“Sometimes you’ll be really good at something you didn’t work too hard to earn. Don’t be ashamed. Trust me, there will be plenty you’ll probably really want but never get. There is always a balance and to keep it alive, you need to celebrate your victories without shame.”
The truth is, the real hard part of acceptance is coming to terms with your character flaws. I’ve dipped onto the wrong side, the arrogant know-it-all-side, one too many times in my hopes to guide and advise others. I also caught myself becoming a judgmental, Moral Molly in situations I had no right to judge.
During my moment of darkness these past couple of months (Read: What a Woman Needs), I had to come to terms with the fact I was someone susceptible to depression, self pity, and emotional imbalance. What headstrong Capricorn wants to admit that to themselves? I was suddenly someone who could let their work go, relationships crumble, and who would deprive her young son of a social, sunlit life. How dare I? HOW COULD I?
“Accepting your character flaws isn’t about justification. It’s about acknowledging those flaws exist and working to fix them.”