On Self Acceptance
The following is a guest post from our guest blogger Alina
First off I want to tell you some truth about self-acceptance that has been both daunting and source of great relief for me: self-acceptance is something that you’ll work on until the day you die. Unless you are truly enlightened, you’re going to have to fight for the ability to love yourself every day… But, though it is a fight, it is the most rewarding one you will ever endeavor.
As we get older we tend to ease into ourselves, like a hand into a pretty custom glove. One of the reasons why a lot of young people have such a difficult time accepting themselves is because their minds have only recently evolved to have the ability to internalize. They are self-aware enough to see their outward-facing persona that has been deeply influenced by others, they begin to understand that their education system hasn’t taught them about concepts like happiness, relationships, or empathy and they are bombarded by images of whatever “ideal body type” and lifestyle is in vogue at the time. The way our brains develop means that throughout our teens and even more so in our twenties (because we are finally free to move into the world, to taste its sweetness and burn our tongues on its fire) our minds need to be engaged. When we are in our early to mid-thirties most of us become much calmer. In fact, according to Time.com, “for every 15 years after age 24, cognitive speed dropped by about 15%”- this means that our brains aren’t working to build new ways of processing information anymore, and so we tend to gel into our set ways of thinking about ourselves and the world around us.
Throughout this journey you’re going to be anxious, you’re going to have bad days, you’re going to break on the bathroom floor, cry in deep breathless gasps. But when you do, I ask you to remember to wrap your arms around your sweet, human, self, and give the most tender of understandings. You are always going to make mistakes. Even the most loving and intelligent of people make mistakes. They let people down, they fall on their face. You need to be aware of your fears and faults so that you can accept them. They are wired inside of you from the hardships you have endured, especially as a child, and your natural emotional reactions are only trying to keep you safe. Honor them. Honor them so that you may learn to accept yourself. Once you accept the bad feelings inside of you, instead of sticking them in a dark corner, you will find that you have immense power. Accept the parts of yourself that you think are ugly or bad. They are just as beautiful and necessary as the parts that glitter and kiss.
Once you take a candle into the recesses of your dark side and look around, it will be easier to come to terms with your flaws and in so doing accept them. Ralph Waldo Emerson believed that we must look within ourselves to find our “paradise” and then we must “an original relation [between ourselves and] the universe.” Like Emerson, I believe that our callings live within us. They constitute a compass of sorts that, when listened to, pulls us toward living the most fulfilling life that we are capable of.
Your life is a work of art that you will be creating during your entire brief stay on this planet. To accept yourself, you must hold your fears with tenderness and seek what excites you. Life will be full of great ups and downs and both are of equal importance. Sometimes you will fall to pieces more readily and life will seem to be a much steeper climb, but it will also be wild and beautiful. Your life is designed for great experiences; loving, exploring, breaking, and bruising your knees. Tell life “YES!” Even when you are beaten down by it. As Kahlil Gibran said in his book “The Prophet”, there is no greater experience than “to be wounded by your own understanding of love; And to bleed willingly and joyfully. To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving”.
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