Tuesday, May 14, 2013

On Self-Acceptance

"No amount of self-improvement can make up for any lack of self-acceptance." - Robert Holden

     Some of you will look at this quote and nod approvingly, some of you will scoff or roll your eyes. Some of you might even argue with me on it about how getting comfortable with ourselves means we stop growing. That's fine and dandy. However, there's a huge problem here. In our modern-day society there's this growing mindset that we should always want more, that more is better. More will equal improvement. More stuff, more people, more achievements, more experiences. We fall into this belief that we're not good enough and must constantly do more or get more to improve ourselves, never once considering what we have and what we need most. We get this huge void within ourselves that we continue to try to fill with material possessions, unsuitable relationships, more hours at work, extra time at the gym, even self-help books and we wonder why we keep failing at happiness.
     If you asked me a year ago what I thought of myself, I would have given you a long list of shortcomings and flaws and things in general that need to be fixed physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and the list goes on. At the start of the new year I unexpectedly ended up in the midst of a huge shift emotionally and mentally, leaving me in a panic and finally alone with my biggest fears and insecurities, these demons that have roamed around my mind since my overachieving high school years and possibly even before then. My first reaction was to fill the emptiness with more activities. I was going to volunteer a ton of hours and spend my time helping and serving others, because who was I to be upset when other people have nothing? I was going to work out more and get myself into even better shape because I wanted to be more muscular and less soft. I was going to stop getting B's and C's and start getting straight A's. I was going to find a job or internship so I could get a job after I graduate and not let myself become another statistic. I filled my time with more things with self-improvement in mind. Since then my life has improved. I now have a good internship and a job, learned to belly dance, I will have my first IMDB credit for a feature film and another short film coming up, and I logged in 37 hours of community service and made some good friends in the process. Unfortunately, I still don't have six-pack abs or rippling biceps, my grades are still B's and C's (I took five 3000- and 4000-level courses, two of which were math-based, give me a break!) and I don't think I'll ever stop having a desire to keep improving.
     I know you were reading this and expecting some sort of miraculous epiphany that ended with me throwing my hands up and shouting "I don't need this! I'm great just as I am!" but all you got was this somewhat anticlimactic overview of my semester. Hear me out. The real point I'm making here is that I know much more about myself and what I need to do to get where I want. I learned more about who I am, what I like, and what I want to do through being alone with myself and trying to fulfill this infinite desire to improve. I've discovered so many positive things about myself I never knew existed, and it allowed me to have a different view of Lexi. I am happy to report that I am much more awesome than I've ever given myself credit for and I quite like me. No, I'm not perfect and will never be, nor do I have the desire to be. But I guess I've grown more comfortable with this imperfect self by seeing it from a different angle.
     I now understand that trying to improve all the time and unsuccessfully filling such a void is the very action we need to find self-acceptance. We find the solution when we become aware of our lack of acceptance and stop for a moment and see that what we thought was defective in us was working all along. Sometimes it takes a broken heart and too much alone time to rewrite our relationships with ourselves. All we needed was to take a step back and see on our own what we already have to understand that we didn't need to change or improve much more than our perspectives.