LOOKING BACK ON TWENTY SIX
Ahh birthdays, the perfect occasion – aside from NYE – to remind yourself what you've accomplished within the past year. And in a world where we are constantly comparing ourselves to others — thanks, Instagram — it's so damn necessary to be reminded of our personal growth.
This isn't necessarily something I've done in years prior, but after a rough 25th, I needed to remind myself that I'm on the right track to ~*happiness*~. Ew. I just said that. But seriously, there was a point not long ago that I was severely unhappy with my life. And it was only after a string of short-term 'relationships' and the death of someone close that I realized I no longer knew who I was or what I wanted out of life. I was so desperate for the approval of others, and so concerned with what they were doing that I became paralyzed in my own life. It's been one hell of a journey, and I still have a long way to go, but I'm so proud of the progress I've made. I can't recall precisely what steps I took to rebuild, or if there's even a single formula for everyone, but I do know what helped me become the woman I am today are the three following ideas...
ACCEPT WHAT MAKES YOU UNIQUE
The world is full of beautifully unique people, yet so many of us are determined to fit the narrow and unrealistic ideals set by our society. And no wonder; with so many different social influences, it can feel impossible to accept your unique oddities and find the courage to embrace and share them with the world.
The task of accepting yourself first begins with a shift in your mentality, coupled with an understanding that not everyone will accept the real you. Personally, I found the inspiration to do so by reading the likes of Waran Shire and Nayyirah Waheed – both are poets who highlight self-love and acceptance. Their words encouraged me to look inside myself in order to determine the qualities I possess, as well as my varied interests, and in turn motivated me to be bold enough to share those qualities/interests with others.
At the end of the day, there will never be one single solution for self-acceptance, but a willingness to start, and a commitment to continue working on acceptance of yourself and others is the best place to start.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO ACCEPT YOU UNCONDITIONALLY
The ability to be completely open with your friends (without judgment) is a concept that I didn't know was possible until this year. Given my affinity to solitude, I've always opted for a variety of great friends rather than clinging to one best friend. But somehow, as those friendships progressed, and we grew into ourselves individually, I began to notice that those in my 'friend group' had negative reactions to my lifestyle and personal choices. In an attempt to save those friendships, I actively avoided discussions on specific topics, I wore different outfits when in their presence, and worst of all, I stopped sharing the things I was passionate about because I felt it was no longer acceptable. Trust me, this is not true friendship.
Making the decision to cut those who were no longer willing to accept my personality or interests was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but in doing so I was able to make new friendships with people I can be completely open with. And in turn, these friendships have provided me the confidence to share my true self with others, no matter their reaction.
REMEMBER: YOUR OUTLOOK ON LIFE IS A DIRECT REFLECTION OF HOW YOU VIEW YOURSELF
As I mentioned above it's so easy nowadays to get caught up in societal views, other people's insecurities and, unfortunately, social media measurements. But at the end of the day, it's your personal opinion of yourself, and how comfortable you are with your choices and decisions that truly matter. And let's be real... It's 2016, we should all be able to do whatever we want, whenever we want - within reason - without being shamed by others, especially when it has no effect on others.
Have you come to similar realizations within the last year?
Share your story/struggle in the comment section below.
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