The Unedited Truth About What Self-Acceptance Actually Looks Like

girl at dusk with sunglasses
Pietra Schwarzler

They say it all the time in self-help books and blogs, to love is to accept the ugliest parts of yourself. To be vulnerable when you feel so utterly strained. But what we often fail to read, or perhaps fail to write, is how that experience really looks. How it feels when the darkest road of your soul remains untouched by the street lamps of distraction and numbing you once knew.

I can only speak for myself, but I’ll tell you for me, it looks like a pivot.

A decisive turn away from the diversions and external forces that allow me to forget.

Usually it’s a small movement (sometimes even just a step), defined by intention and purpose.

Things that certainly don’t come overnight.

Things that certainly don’t exist every day.

I️t feels like a deep dive- straight in the inevitable unknown.

Headfirst. Without grace or tact. Trembling limbs and sweaty palms, reminding of the physicality of your fear.

And it smells. It reeks of panic and discomfort and nerves.

But here’s the thing they really don’t tell you.

The truth is, it looks like pain.

Gaping and raw- as you step closer and closer to the edge of yourself. Struggling to sit with the depth of whatever it is you’ve been unable to witness. This is where you come face to face with You.

It’s not all meditative breaths and long relaxing exhales.

It’s saltwater and silence, a few steps of progress then pain. Above all of the other things you may have heard, it’s a process. A never ending, always evolving, opportunity to show up for the fear. To be vulnerable in the most harrowing of ways. To unlearn everything you’ve thought to be true over and over until you no longer know them. Until you’ve repaved the roads in your mind. Until you’ve replaced hate with love, criticism with care and shame with compassion.

It might not be there every day- at least it’s not yet for me. Sometimes it even feels like it’s disappeared for good.

But I’m starting to believe, that’s what it’s supposed to look like.

Self acceptance isn’t a linear progression.

Although, wouldn’t it be easier if it were? It’s a tangled web of lines moving up and down, back and forth- slowly pushing you forward over time.

And today, I know that’s okay.

After all, the caterpillar can’t grow into a butterfly without the cocoon. Imagine if he refused to accept that?

What a shame it would be. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Human | Writer | Flower Child

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