The Power of Self-Acceptance

Essay by <Name Withheld>
Tanya Trofymchuk on Unsplash

I believe in the power of self-acceptance. Sometimes when life is going south, it really is going south, and there is nothing we can do about it. Growing up, I was always told to figure out a solution, and I would push myself to do so. This energetic pursuit of resolution used to be something I was so proud of, and I once believed that it defined who I am.

People would tell me to “think harder,” “try your best,” or that I’d “do better next time.” Although such advice seems comforting and motivating – it never alleviated my insecurities underneath. If I fail or make mistakes, then it means I’m simply not pushing myself hard enough. There’s always room for improvement, but there is no for my own comfort. It took me years to realize that the positivity floating around me was, instead, an unnecessary and burdensome disguise of unrealistic expectations.

 In the summer of 2019, my best friend – who I looked up to during my childhood – was having a hard time. I was shocked and overwhelmed because she was my go-to person for any advice. She was the kind of person who turned her test in first, who people went to if they needed help on their math homework, and someone who always seemed to know where her life was heading. 

 We had the longest conversation that summer. Even when I tried to deny it, I couldn’t ignore the subtle uneasiness in my heart as I was talking to her. I struggled to find the right emotions to face my best friend from kindergarten, someone who I thought did not have any weak spots and would never falter. I was deciding between compassion, which I assumed she did not need, and pure sadness, which would make things worse. I was faced with a person who was once composed, but now lost and seeking comfort in me. In the end, I said, “Don’t worry, you got this, and everything will be back to normal soon.”

When those words left my mouth, I suddenly realized that they could have been the last straw that she was hearing all this time. Even if things didn’t go back to the right track, she would still be my perfect best friend, the most fun and caring soul I know. Maybe there is a time when we realize that we are just not strong enough, not smart enough, or simply just lost in our lives. There is nothing else we can do, but what’s wrong with that?

In retrospect, the cause of my pressure was the self-imposed expectation of being good enough, as well as the fear of letting others down. However, when I’m in the shoes of someone else, I know deep down that I just want to hug the people I care for and let them know that whatever happens. The outcome doesn’t carry as much weight as we imagine. Through the events in our lives, good or bad, we learn who we are and what matters to us. It’s not about creating a happily ever after—it’s about taking it one step at a time and accepting that we’ll go through times when we won’t feel satisfied.

It’s fine to not have things figured out. It’s fine to make awkward silly mistakes, and even more than twice. I accept this fact, and I accept myself. I know I’m loved in many ways. 

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