Millennials today are all about self (me, me, me). And I feel like I am one of them. The days of that old story of “finishing school, going to a college you don’t particularly like, getting a job, starting a family, paying bills and then dying” are over. I believe we must pay more attention to our inner self and self-acceptance.
It took me a long time to accept things as they are and to act accordingly. I finished a college which didn’t particularly interest me, got a job which wasn’t enriching my life in any way and having the overall existence of a depressed human. I am not talking just for the sake of it but from experience. You can find my story on why I quit my job and the journey of self-discovery on my blog.
The self-acceptance came more recently. I needed a long time to do nothing, think about stuff (and sometimes about nothing), to let go of things (jobs I didn’t like and people who have hurt me) and then for a lot of introspection to finally begin to scratch the surface of my own being. It’s hard to explain this one. And bear in mind it may be different for each one of us (it probably is). Letting go of everything I was and knew was the scariest thing ever. Deciding to face people (aka my parents) and telling them I hated that job (or a place, or other people) was something that made committing suicide like a bearable sentence.
That was the feeling of comfort that was in me. I wasn’t feeling too happy or ever excited about anything, but it was all familiar ground. By now, I hope I made it clear enough that feeling comfortable makes one lazy and afraid and doesn’t necessarily mean you are in a good and healthy mental state (which I suppose we are all after).
What is self-acceptance?
I would describe it as this very hard to achieve but liberating state of mind. We are often too self-absorbed to notice if and how disconnected we are with ourselves and our own needs.
Like I was when I realized I want to travel and create content for other travel enthusiasts. And then the more I talked about it (at first, the talking was mostly in my head), the more I started to notice that was what I wanted to do.
The point is that whenever someone would ask me what I wanted to do, I would come up with an answer I didn’t believe in. But deep inside I felt afraid and vulnerable of what they might think of me if I told them the truth. And the truth was I didn’t know. I was not sure what I wanted to do with my life and my time and that was my best-guarded secret which I was trying to hide from everyone else.
Did I manage to fake it? Yes, for years. Did it do any good? NO. It made me feel depressed and angry. I would snap at people with every chance I got.
Interesting fact: Did you know that angry people are actually people who have deep fears and don’t know how to get in touch with them?
I am grateful for all my highs and lows and for how my story has unravelled so far. I don’t regret any of it, as each drawback led to what I am today. But there is one thing I wish existed along my journey. I wish there was a person or something to let me know earlier where I was going or how it was going to happen. I guess that the beauty of it all, but nevertheless, I wish there was a faster process. Educating people by telling them “Now it’s time to learn how to be an adult” would come as a handy class for some (like myself).
The decision of not dealing anymore with those things I hated, was done in an instance. What took me so long were the endless years of self-doubt. But at that moment, when I wasn’t sure of anything, I was finally in touch with myself, by realizing I wasn’t cut out for that life. And then went to discover the world and to discover myself. And this still goes on to this day.
The leap towards self-acceptance
The leap was hard and involved a lot of fear, but all of it was hard. It was the moment I felt free from all the burdens I was putting on myself. I realized I was free to try new things, new places, make new friends and eventually be true to myself.
I must tell you, there was a lot of trial and error involved. Yes, I mentioned this a lot before, but volunteering was the greatest thing I could do for myself (and I was also helping others). It gave me a lot of space for experimenting with different ways of life, and I am talking about cities, friends with different backgrounds, cultures and jobs. In Turkey, I was cleaning the toilet once a week, among numerous other tasks. That experience, harsh as it was, taught me humility. It also taught me that I never want to go back to cleaning other people’s toilets ever again.
Here is more on my Turkey experience.
What I mean to say is that there are a lot of ways of getting in touch with yourself. It may involve humbling experiences. It may not. For me, volunteering and serving others helped me get in touch with myself. Above all, being true to yourself is the first step in your journey towards self-acceptance. I do believe self-acceptance is the greatest achievement of all.
To sum things up, I don’t have a recipe or a simple guide on how to achieve self-acceptance, but by sharing parts of my own story, I hope to inspire you in your journey. And as always, I am always here, ready to listen, if you feel the need to reach out.