It’s always those memes on Instagram that get me – of course when I’m not expecting it. They totally challenge my thinking and cause me to reflect on where I am emotionally, and sometimes intellectually or spiritually. Sometimes they hit my heart-strings or make me reminisce. But more often than not, they smack me dead in the face into my reality at that moment. It’s like being called out in front of a crowd, or that moment your heart drops when your daddy calls you by your actual name! (He has plenty of pet names he picks from! ♥). This happened to me today as I was casually perusing Instagram before getting started in my daily activities. The quote read:
“You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try accepting yourself and see what happens.”
What a simple, yet complex advisement. It holds truth, hope and a little bit of mystery and adventure. It seems simple enough, yet it can be difficult to accomplish.
In essence, it’s my story.
Well the beginning really. See, I was raised with much encouragement to be myself. I was allowed to explore my likes and dislikes, learn from my failures, and go after anything I wanted to accomplish. I had a wonderful family and mentor support system that did their best to guard me from the perils of society. They let me be a little girl and mature into a young woman. I am so grateful for that balance in my upbringing. But, you can’t escape the world –it’s deceit and the constant messages of what is beautiful, acceptable, and favored. I found that I liked many parts of myself while still feeling unworthy, unaccepted, and dealing with many layers of rejection from my peers.
I was constantly self-critical and the battle between how I portrayed myself and how I truly felt raged internally every day. As a teenager, I actually remember standing in front of the mirror in my bedroom praying and asking God to show me myself through someone else’s eyes. I wanted to see what was “so bad” about me that others would treat me the way they did. I actually stood in the mirror, waiting for my reflection to change.
The truth is that it wasn’t going to change. The beautiful person that I saw was who they saw too. The problem was that they didn’t see a beautiful person in their own reflection. And since they weren’t happy with themselves, they projected that onto me. I allowed their insecurities, jealousies, and mean-spirited behavior to begin to define how I saw myself. I’m not proud to say that I allowed this negative self-image to go on for years. And it played itself out in extremely bad relationships and failed “friendships.” I settled for what I thought I could get, finding myself on a downward spiral. I didn’t talk much about it to anyone because I had to keep my brave face (which is not brave at all…it’s pride).
My Auntie called me to the carpet one day as a very young adult. I was in an emotionally abusive relationship and she recognized the signs. She gently talked to me about who I am, how much I should be truly loved, and encouraged me to make some different choices. I remember that day, going to the mirror in my dorm bathroom and remembering my teenage prayer.
That day, I decided that instead of looking through someone else’s eyes, it was best to look through the eyes of people who truly love me – and I needed to be one of those people.
The road to self-acceptance wasn’t the easiest and every now and then I am still a little hard on myself. But loving myself is one the best decisions I could make. I am free to be who I am, flaws and all. And with that comes the ability to freely love and be a blessing to others. The best part is the adventure! Along with the challenges, my future unfolds every day. And I get to live it out with true bravery, excitement and great expectation. Accept yourself and see what happens… I’m confident that the outcome will be great. ♥