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.