Self Tolerance

Today my roommate and I were texting about our thoughts on inadequacy and introspection and she said that she thinks I’ve mastered self acceptance. I stared at the words on my phone and couldn’t fathom that me and “self acceptance” were being used in the same sentiment. I thought back on where I was a few years ago when I started seeing a therapist. For one, I couldn’t even utter the word therapist out loud to anyone in my life because God forbid they knew I was seeing one and even worse: what if they ask why? Luckily, the stigma surrounding mental health and therapy has lightened up over the last couple years. I am now able to talk openly about things I learn from therapy and it actually adds to some of my relationships. My roommate, for example: she is one of the strongest women I know. She is gorgeous, successful, funny and heavily pursued. To an outsider, she has everything. To an outsider, I might have everything, I don’t know. Despite all of that, we frequently discuss how we wish we were dealt a different hand. It’s not fair her mom died when she was a teenager. It’s not fair Sam died either. It’s not fair the first man I fell in love with left scars – both physical and emotional – for me to work through on my own time. It’s not fair we weren’t born with the exact hair or skin or body or mental health that we want. Life’s not fair blah blah blah but what other options do we have?

When Germany was bombing London every day for eleven weeks, Winston Churchill printed propaganda posters, urging the British to ‘keep calm and carry on.’ Sometimes I feel like I’m London and everything else is Germany, dropping bomb after bomb after bomb until I finally surrender. I used to ask God if he was testing me and when he answered with another bomb, I would beg him to stop. I like to think that the smoke has cleared now. London is still standing. I’m still carrying on. Self acceptance is a funny concept. Has anyone really mastered it? Have you ever met anyone who truly accepts everything about themselves? I follow a lot of people on Instagram who pretend to. I pretend to. Take one look at my Instagram and you’ll see my seemingly cohesive life captured in carefully edited photos featuring a cute dog and pretty friends and fancy restaurants and apartment complexes. You’ll see witty captions that offer the illusion that I’ve got it all figured out. I’m happy. You won’t see the nights I spend working at a restaurant until midnight after my full eight hours at my day job so that I can pay rent and my dog’s vet bills. I don’t take pictures of myself when my face is plagued with another stress breakout. I don’t show off my car that’s holding on for dear life and wheezing like a dying animal each time I start it. The fact is that we’re all highlighting the things we like, we’re accepting of the things we can control.

Today I told my roommate, “We’re all unstable. Some more than others. I like to think we’re more interesting because of it.” She said I have self acceptance but it’s really just blissful ignorance. It’s the fact that I don’t know what it’d be like to be any other way than the way I am right now. I don’t know what it’s like to love the way life has panned out for me. I don’t think anyone really does. I know that my only option is to accept it and carry on. I look at other people and remind myself that their closets hold skeletons, too. The filters on their life have been carefully chosen. Our world is full of masks hiding the faces people were born with, the faces they were given, the faces they’ve made up in their own heads. And if we take our masks off in front of the right people, we can be okay with whatever it is that we’re hiding. We can learn to accept our ugly parts, too.

3 thoughts on “Self Tolerance”

  1. The best and worse kept secret is that EVERYONE is the same! Those who can’t admit that to themselves are the casualties of life.

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  2. I think even acknowledging the difficulty one has in accepting themselves speaks of a maturity and potential to work toward it. You know my feelings toward the way people filter their lives, especially on social media, and it is nice to know there are other souls out there dealing with the same issues. We only share what we want others to think of us, we put up walls to protect ourselves, and we are our own harshest critics. There are things I dislike about myself and my appearance that others wouldn’t even think of, or have actually complimented me on, which confuses me even further. Self reflection and sharing one’s struggle in solidarity are how we can slowly allow others to see our true selves. As you said, “if we take our masks off in front of the right people, we can be okay with whatever it is that we’re hiding.” I hope you find the right people to do away with your mask 🙂

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  3. I think the hardest part is looking our younger self in the eye and saying, “This is who I am. This is all the stuff that happened, this is how I handled it, and this is where I’ve ended up because of it. I know I’m not who you thought you’d be, and definitely not where you wanted. I’m not an astronaut and I don’t live on the beach, and even if I did the water would be frozen solid and the air would burn my face, that’s right we never made it out of Minnesota… For that matter, I don’t even own a house, let alone a car that doesn’t break down every other month. And I’m very sorry to say I don’t have that perfect relationship you imagined every day for 2 hours when you sang along to Beauty and the Beast. You know the one: We spend all day together laughing and singing horribly and just being there for each other; raising our two adorable children on old Mario games and binge watching Star Wars. No, instead my love life has been a series of blizzards tossing and battering me both physically and emotionally. So much so that I’ve decided to stop going out in the storm… But on the plus side what I can tell you is that I’ve got wonderful, heartwarming friends and family that fill that void immeasurably. I’ve got a roof over my head, a job where I do stuff I kind of enjoy and it pays decent, and a cuddly little dog that lifts me up when nothing else can. I know I’m not living the dream.. and for a lot of it I have only myself to blame. I’m sorry I let you down. Do you accept me?”

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