Society is critical; they watch the world and its social beings with the precision of a hawk. This makes it very difficult to try and live up to the standards that society presents. In many people’s minds, you are far from perfect. You are either too fat, too skinny, overly dramatic, too loud, too quiet, but NEVER perfect. Let’s be honest. Perfection is what we are chasing. We are chasing it like a track star thirsts for the fastest time in the race of their lives.
In fact, we spend so much time trying to be perfect that our authentic selves are often left on the backburner and forgotten about. We leave ourselves because we are so fearful of not what fitting into what is considered to be a utopian world. If that is not enough, we are also consumed by other people’s thoughts. What if they do not like me? What if they think I am too forward or too stuffy? Of course, we want to be liked and regarded as a good person. These are all-natural thought patterns and progressions.
Herein lies the entire problem. We are neglecting ourselves to please others. This is a very personal issue for me as well. I spent so many years tainted my authenticity so that others would like me; so that I could at least look like I fit in with the “popular group.” The group where all of the handsome guys hung out with the girls with the perfect makeup and knew how to do all of the backflips and cartwheels. In other words, they were the people I could only become in my dreams. I wanted for them to love me as is, but this wasn’t going to happen. Life is a bit like a puzzle in that sense. If the piece doesn’t fit, it won’t complete the picture no matter how hard you try.
Acting as if I belonged in circles that were clearly not a match for me did not help things. I did not realize this at the time of course, but it was tearing me apart. Like a predator devours its prey. I was blind to this realization, seeing it an opportunity and open door to make people like me. I thought that by going along with those who were deemed important would make everyone forget that I was different from them.
I was wrong. This realization hurt more than a third-degree burn. I sank into a deep depression as a result of my differences wearing on me. I could not understand why they wouldn’t just hang out with me. Was it because I required extra responsibility and care? Probably. This factor always made me feel like I was a burden and an intruder. It still does to this day in certain instances.
You will never quite understand these feelings of guilt if you do not walk in my shoes. Depending on others is a hard pill to swallow, and it only becomes harder if you do not learn to accept who you are first. That was and is the root of my problem. I did not believe in who I was and what I stood for. I had to find a way to understand who I was; to unlock my authenticity if you will.
I found my shining light of hope in music. Lifehouse’s in particular. Their music and lyrics moved me in a way like no other artist had done before. They understood that I was feeling alone and would not have any relief until I understood that I would be OK. Accepting your differences is a journey, and like every journey, it takes time.
I could not expect this to happen as an overnight process. I had to take the time to absorb each element of a time like a sponge. It had to stick. It took me until I was 18 to fully come to terms with my wheelchair and the fact that I would never get out of it and start walking around like everyone else. This is made even harder during your teen years when you have already fragile emotions.
At 18, at the peak of my adulthood, I was finally learning to build my own brand. To fully love myself so that others could love me in return.
I fully believe that the main objective in life is to learn how you are unique. What you have that others don’t. What sets you apart from others? What are your dreams and how will you accomplish them?
The first step to accepting yourself, your goals and your dreams is determining what you are good at, and then chasing it until you are breathless no matter what. No, every day that you work towards your goals will not be perfect, but that is what keeps us on our toes. The imperfections are lessons. Behind each lesson lies an opportunity to grow and prosper.
The second and final step is loving yourself fully. Learning to pace yourself is also important. Don’t overload yourself mentally and emotionally. Let yourself mold slowly into your own pair of wings and fly at your own speed. You will get the hang of it eventually, and once you take off, you will be unstoppable. Once you take off your mask and reveal your whole self, you will find the value in your own opinion of yourself and realize in the end that it is what matters most.
Society will surely “push your buttons,” but there is no harm in fully embracing and loving who you are. Once you do that, others will start to flock to you, and the positive energy will illuminate the entire world. Take your time. It is a long journey, but one that is certainly worthwhile.