“Live your life for you not for anyone else. Don’t let the fear of being judged, rejected or disliked stop you from being yourself.” ~Sonya Parker
Our common culture is one that values acceptance from the group over self-acceptance. We base our self-worth on how we measure up against who society tells us to be, and our culture views those who are different as being anomalies that could bring the group down.
And yet deep in our hearts (and in the books that tell our collective history) we know that individuals who go against the grain are the ones that help society progress.
When my father died in front of me, my ability to go to college and progress into the next phase of life (adulthood) passed away with him. We didn't have the funds to send me to University, as I was now considered a non-resident and would have to pay more than the average Brit.
But that was the furthest thing from my mind, as the pain of losing the only person on earth who understood me and embraced my radical nature had just died abruptly in front of my nineteen-year-old self.
Months turned into years. I moved to the states and began living with my brother, who is also an artist. He tried to encourage me to continue my studies in some form or another, but at that time I was still paralyzed by sadness and confusion. I was basically unemployable and I knew this all too well, which furthered my feelings of inadequacy.
Eventually, I came to accept the two things I was struggling with.
In my soul I knew that Dad had been sick for years, treating himself poorly with toxic substances that eventually killed him. And I also knew that despite being different and perhaps undervalued in how I fit into the world, I had a purpose.
Slowly but surely, I began to embrace the fact that I was a third culture kid and writer. That was that. There was no changing the fact that I act like an absent minded professor (books strewn around the house and nothing in its place) and have a panic attack if I merely think about waking up at 7AM to go to a job.
I'm not skinny and will never be. And I have no interest in ever embracing that view of how a woman should be. In fact, I quite like curves and have accepted that a woman can have them and be healthy at the same time.
My inability to complete the I.B. program (equivalent to senior year in high school) or enroll in college is a thing of the past. I am a devoted life long learner, bibliophile, and polymath, and I happen to like self-education more than being stuck in a classroom.
If potential employers had an issue with my lack of diploma then they were obviously not the right fit for working with me.
I found and married my soul mate and we became parents to a little angel with curly hair and a voracious appetite for travel and adventure. Several years after her birth I finally embraced what my father had pursued himself: the role of entrepreneur.
My passion for travel, food, and culture mingled with my love of the written word and photography.
Living a dream-driven life is not easy in many respects. It requires courage and devotion, with a lot of trial and error. The most important thing for someone who wants to devote their life to their passions is to accept themselves just as they are, right here and now.
Whether or not you improve your supposed flaws in the future is no matter.
Whether or not you get a new degree or network with the right people is of no matter either if you can't first allow yourself to be who you are. That may sound simplistic, but it's actually complex if you look at just how narrow the path we have been told to take really is.
That road is one of subservience to an idea or meme that may, in fact, not be healthy or even based in logic.
Empowerment occurs when we accept ourselves.
This doesn't denote we become egotistical or self-absorbed. Rather, we have now accepted that our path differs from that of others, and there is no need for us to judge ourselves according to the world's standards. When there is acceptance of who we are, right here and now, we find peace.
Freedom occurs when we accept ourselves.
No matter one's disabilities, dissatisfactions, or disturbances, we must accept ourselves in order live a passionate life. How can we accept others if we cannot accept ourselves?
No one can attain happiness if they are hung up on what is lacking; we must transcend the need to compare ourselves to others and let go of our apparent flaws and shortcomings. This frees us from self-imposed judgment and the need to fit into society’s standard of what we should look like, be, act, and do.
Happiness occurs when we accept ourselves.
We tend to judge our potential for having an enjoyable life on how much stuff we accrue or social statuses we have gained. Again, this is an illusion and denotes a lack of self-love, as all of the things we truly need to have a passionate life are inside of us, perhaps yet to be discovered.
Happiness can never be purchased and others can never designate it to us. It comes from within.
Sometimes I still get hung up on what I lack and what I could have done with my life had I made better decisions or hadn't had such a traumatic event happen in my teens. But this feeling quickly subsides when I recognize it for what it's worth (comparison to social memes) and count the blessings for all that I have within me and around me, no matter how small.
Photo by George Goodnight