I'm not a morning person, no matter how many fitness influencers tell me its incredible to wake up at 4:30am I'm always going to be the girl that is groaning when I have to get up before 8am. I am an introvert even though growing up teachers kept telling me I needed to "get involved" and "be more social". I subscribe to minimalism, I am anti-diets and obviously, I'm childfree. I live my life on the fringe, often in the minority of choices and that when you make the uncommon choices it can leave you feeling left-out and insecure. I am firm in my decisions in life and that's because I learned to whole-heartedly embrace and accept the person I am.
Self acceptance is not recognizing you have a bad habit and resigning to it always being that way. Self acceptance is being comfortable in your own skin despite any flaws, differences or weaknesses you may have. If you're looking to guarantee those feelings of insecurity and isolation, start with comparison. When we look at someones 'middle' and weigh it against our 'beginning', or look at someones perfectly posed instagram photos and weigh it against our hectic home life we compare our full picture to a sliver of someone else's. We immediately put ourselves at a disadvantage because we don't have all the information. When we spend all our time with our gaze focused on others we never allow ourselves to focus on our own progress and own growth. When we stop comparing ourselves to other people we have the freedom to change our perspective and turn that gaze to recognizing we are on our own path and that doesn't have to look like anyone else's.
When we change the direction of our gaze we also adjust it to look deeper inside ourselves. Even if you don't know them yet, we each have our own unique gifts and talents. What are you good at? Creativity, empathy, listening skills, writing, dancing, good grammar or maybe you make perfect buttermilk pancakes. We all have something we are good at. I encourage you to sit down and make yourself a list, no gift is too small. When you're feeling discouraged, or feel the negativity of comparison creeping back up, turn to that list and be reminded that you have gifts and talents to offer the world as well.
We should also be able to take stock of our weaknesses and disappointments. We've all made mistakes in life, big and small. We don't need to carry the weight of those mistakes and disappointments. This is me giving you permission to forgive yourself for those mistakes, permission to let go of the guilt and blame and move forward. Perfection is unachievable and not what life is about. That quote "Progress not perfection", write those words on your heart and never let them go. We can only focusing on growing and being better, not being perfect. So where do you feel you're falling short? Physical health? Do you need to start incorporating a walk into your day or eating more vegetables? Mental health? Maybe it's finally time to deal with a few of those deep down issues. Spiritual health? When's the last time you prayed or meditated? Think about a few of the places you can improve yourself and set some small, achievable goals.
It's not easy to recognize personal faults, and when doing so we need to be careful we aren't being too critical on ourselves. I have a quote on a small letterboard in my bathroom. It says "You owe yourself the same love you so freely give to other people". I put it there as a daily reminder that the way I treat myself should be the way I treat my husband, my family and my friends. I don't ever expect my husband to be happy 24/7, so why do I get hard on myself when I'm having a bad day? I don't expect my friends to keep problems to themselves, I want to help them, so why don't I ever turn to them for mo help as well? We need to start showing ourselves the same kindness we give to others because we are just as deserving of it.
When your light starts shining brighter, when that self acceptance glow spreads itself across your face, there will be people blinded by it. Not because you are too much, but because they are living their lives in darkness. They will judge you, try and tear you down and discourage you.. even be cruel. I've had strangers call me awful names and shame me for the choices I've made and the person I've become. The difference between me and them is I refuse to apologize for my choices. If we become confident in who we are, if we finally accept the person we are growing into, we no longer have to apologize for our choices, our feelings, our boundaries or our future growth. In the words of the wise Talyor Swift "the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate", so shake it off. When choosing a lifestyle alternative to the norm, like being childfree, we cannot expect others to accept our choices unless we first accept them ourselves. I compel you to stop comparing, recognize your gifts and your weaknesses, forgive yourself, speak a little more kindness and stop apologizing.
Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self–acceptance.
- Brene Brown