My default position when talking about acceptance of the self, is to talk about my relationship with the ‘man in the mirror.’ Perhaps it’s because I’m vain. More likely though, it’s because of the emphasis that has been put on image throughout my life. Instagram, drama school, changing room mirrors, unrequited love; it all seemed to surround the way that I looked.
As I began to grow and learn that image isn’t everything, which deep down, as an overweight teenager I have always known. Desperate to disguise the fact that I didnt have the ideal body type by being hilariously funny and loud. Distract them with smoke and mirrors and they may not realise the size of your thighs.
Although I have now realised that no amount of humour can disguise the size of my thighs so alas, they must be embraced.
But dig deeper, look into the self and it’s a minefield of things to think about. The building blocks which make me who I am: my personality, my morals, my impulse and my actions. Unfortunately, I cannot promise to be well versed in Plato, Aristotle or Socrates, the self is a concept far beyond my intellectual capacity. Nevertheless, I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about it. Pondering. Questioning. Attempting to accept the person that I have been, that I am and who I am becoming, because we never really know ourselves, do we? We think we do. We think we’ve worked out all of our flaws and started to enhance all of our best qualities until something happens. Love, loss, passion, anger, frustration, road rage, arguments, alcohol, fear, jealousy, hunger (I realise that hunger in my middle class, privileged existence is more like being peckish.) All of these things and so much more can turn the person that you thought you were into a complete stranger.
I have periods of time where my thoughts are so contemplative, so deep, so fogged by expectation, unnecessary pressure and desire to be the woman that I know I can be, I can’t see myself at all. I can see doubt, judgement and wasted potential but not much else. I’m starting to note in what head space and in what situations I feel this most strongly.
In conflict I have noticed that I am small, unable to voice my feelings without either expressing my passion through aggression, or saying nothing at all. My words simmer on the surface like boiled pasta, I over boil or I never cook. In my ideal self I would be calming, patient, I would listen and then coherently explain my point of view, because it’s almost always justified and if it isn’t, it is coming from a place of hurt which needs to be explained.
I have a tendency to be jealous and for so long I despised this about myself. I hated that I couldn’t just be happy for others, as their progression on the ladder of life was not personal to me. I had to accept that for some reason this was a trait in me, one which I did not like but could understand. It came from a place of love, strong love for my friends who needed me less because they now had boyfriends, it came as a consequence of insecurity due to the way that I had allowed myself to be loved. When I broke this character trait down, as a consequence of experience, I no longer hated it, I just needed to manage it.
Don’t get me wrong I still lash out. I still twinge when Faye does something with George instead of me, or when I watch someone that I fancy flirting with someone else. But I try desperately not to throw my toys out of the pram. I focus on how happy I am for my friends, how the only men I seem to like in this world are the ones related to me or the ones that love my friends as much as I do. The flirting man is a little different, rather than protective it’s primal. Most of the time it’s nothing to do with him, they’re never worth it, it’s to do with the reoccurring emotions which come when history begins to repeat itself. I’ve watched someone that I love, fall out of love with me, often this happens when they fall into the eyes or the knickers of someone else. I’m not jealous per say, I’m guarded. But I am learning that to guard yourself before you have received warning of battle, is a waste of time.
There are qualities which I love about myself. But accepting these are easy. Accepting how strongly I can love, how quickly I can be selfless to the point of my own detriment and my organisational skills; is easy. It is accepting the flaws. The qualities that surface during situations that test me, challenge me and surprise me, is what is difficult. How impatient, defensive, sensitive and abrupt I can be. This is hard to accept. I have found that this kind of judgement of myself is fuelled by comparison. Like petrol on a fire, comparison of myself to others and myself to the self I think that I know (Plato would have something to say about that I’m sure) is explosive. People say that the only comparison you should make is to your former self, but I’m not sure how helpful this is. Circumstances change, society changes, your likes and dislikes change, the people closest to you, life happens and will ultimately alter the person that you are. It’s in times of hardship that we show our strengths but our weaknesses can just as easily surface.
In difficult times in my life I have both recognised my resilience and my stubbornness. I would not compare this me, to me on a day where I feel whole, happy and fulfilled; because those were not the cards that I was dealt on the days in which my flaws expose themselves.
The person I am and want to be changes every day. It feels like a maze in which my ideal self is trapped in the middle whilst I am frantically running around trying to find it. I am now imagining that the maze is beautiful, perhaps even more so than the destination. God, you really do have to stop and smell the roses, and not just the big red juicy ones, the little white ones too.
As always, in this theme of acceptance, be patient and kind. Influence yourself and listen to your gut. When you act out, when your flaws rear their heads, look for the trigger. The trigger could be anything, an action, a person, a memory. A moment in the present can spark a feeling from the past, as long as you notice this, you’ll be able to decipher the rationality of your reactions.
I for example, have an intolerance to people that make me insecure, sometimes through no fault of their own, so I refrain from being around them. They do to my sense of self what gluten does to my stomach, it’s bearable but not desirable. If you’re something intolerant, make sure that you diagnose yourself. I’m also dickhead intolerant, but aren’t we all?
Talk about what’s happening in your head, most things can be solved through communication and description. Laugh with yourself and apologise when you’re wrong. Change isn’t always necessary, maybe if your negative traits are wanting to cause harm or pain, but otherwise most things can be shown and expressed in a positive way. This is so yin yoga of me, but you really do just have to listen to yourself so that you don’t have to shout.
I promise I’ll write a funny blog next week about jizz or the best ABBA song for every occasion.
But in the meantime, I’ll be focusing on my positive qualities and accepting my negative ones. Trying desperately to limit the impact that they have on who I am.
If you feel like you have no one to talk to, you do. Someone will always be there to listen. X