Watching the documentary Bridegroom made me cry because the documentary is a harrowing example of the power of love; it’s also proof of the fact that some people just don’t accept others for who they are.
Seriously. Watch it if you can.
I’m no expert on this stuff, but if there’s anything I’ve learned in this journey, it’s that you have to love and accept yourself before you can do that for someone else.
Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions, but it’s worth noting that EVERYONE deserves acceptance. I don’t care if you’re gay, straight, lesbian, bi-sexual….okay, I’ll stop before I go into rant mode.
Accepting yourself can be hard. Hard with a capital H. People may look like they have everything together, but the reality is they’re probably just as confused as you are.
Which is why accepting others for who they are is just as important.
There’s so much pressure in today’s society to look a certain way, think a certain way, do things a certain way. And if you don’t do it the way you’re “supposed to,” you stick out like a sore thumb.
Being different (with a capital D) is one of the hardest things to do, particularly when you’re in school. Don’t tell me you don’t have those middle school/high school horror stories.
I’m going to own up to it: I’m still working toward accepting myself for who I am. I’d be hard pressed to find someone who’s completely happy with who they are, someone who’s just stopped evolving.
And I doubt you’re that person. Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this right now.
So what do you do in order to (start to) accept yourself?
Go With Your Gut (And Put Earplugs In If You Have To)
You’re going to be told what you want to do is just wrong sometimes. There are no ifs and buts about it. You can’t get everything right in your life.
Sometimes those reality checks are warranted. Like when you’re inches away from doing something drastic. Like making permanent decisions based on a temporary state of mind.
But severe issues aside, the truth is that you know yourself better than anyone else in the world. Yes, that list includes your best friend that you’ve known since you were 5 and your parents.
They may not understand why you do the things that you do; but the important thing is that you follow your inner compass.
Because sometimes the places you take yourself are better than where you thought you’d end up.
“I really regret going with my gut.”
Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve NEVER heard anyone say that.
Look Back On Your Accomplishments
Or if you can’t think of any, write out a list of the awesome things you’ve done/ are doing.
My friend (read: second career coach) made me write out a list of all the cool things I had done in my life. And even though I filed it away in the depths of my laptop, I pull it out every now and again when I need a reminder.
Because everyone needs a reminder of how awesome they are.
This is not to say that I stare at this list for hours and let my head inflate; it’s just a nice reminder to have to bring you out of the cyclone of negative experiences we can get ourselves into.
We’re all human.
The accomplishments don’t even have to be accomplishments. They can be highlights of your life.
My list of awesome includes (condensed and shortened for personal reasons):
- Getting a college degree.
- Studying abroad in Australia.
- Traveling abroad to England, Ireland, China, Japan, and Mexico to expand my horizons
- Recovering from childhood trauma
- Meeting Olympic gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White.
Keep adding to it as you get older. I have a feeling you’ll realize that you are a lot more awesome in real life than you are in your head. Your list of highlights won’t be the same as ANYONE ELSE’S. That’s pretty cool, don’t you think?
Find Your People And Surround Yourself With Them
For those of you who have been following the blog for a while now, you’ve probably gotten sick of hearing me say this, but it makes a world of difference.
You feel validated if you’re around people who you relate to. Your dreams don’t sound impossible.
And that’s one of the best things in the world.
Because when you’re with people who all feel different, you don’t feel that different yourself, right?
We’re all different in our own ways. That’s what makes us human. We all deserve love; it just takes some of us a while to realize it. As the documentary says, “it’s not a gay thing. It’s not a straight thing. It’s a human thing.”
Use Your Story To Help Others
I’ve said it before: You may not believe me, but your story matters. It does. It doesn’t have to define you. You can use it as fuel.
It takes time to find out how your story can help others, but it can.
I used mine to start this blog. Shane Bitney Crone uses his story to be an advocate for equal rights. Demi Lovato uses hers to be an anti-bullying and mental health advocate.
I can’t speak for either one of them, but I can say for myself that the people who have reached out to me with encouragement, and said that I’d helped them in some way through my writing, is more rewarding to me than anything.
And that sense of accomplishment, of giving back, has allowed me to begin to accept my story, and myself, that much more.
What have YOU found most helpful in learning to accept yourself?
Image Credit: Demi Lovato VEVO Youtube account