My entire life, I’ve had a running list of attributes that I never wanted to acquire. They’re those things I see in other people that make me think, “Wow, I never want to get to that point in my life.” Then, I go on living my perfect life shaped by all the things I’ve always wanted, with absolutely nothing bad tainting it.
Do you see the problem yet?
I’ve been in a period of self-discovery lately, and during this time I’ve taken a look at all the ways I’ve changed in the last several years; most notably, since high school. I compare what I thought of myself then, to what I think of myself now. I’ve found that even though my life has changed dramatically in the last 5 years, I’m still happier than I was then — even though my happy life consists of several of these “offensive” attributes I swore I’d never adopt.
No matter how many good things or bad things make up who you are, these things are really only considered “good” or “bad” by others. Their opinions of you shape their opinions of themselves, whether they want to espouse a trait of yours or avoid it forever. But what is the use of it?
It is possible to love your whole self in spite of what you — or others — perceive negatively. You could swear you’d never be unemployed for longer than a year, that you’d never fail a class, that you’d never go out in public looking like that… and then those things happen anyway, and they’re not as big a deal as you’d imagined. It was just so much easier at the time to separate yourself from another stranger and artificially amplify your perceived superiority, because you were here and they were there.
I really love who I am and where my life is right now. I also know, from profound experience, how easily these feelings and circumstances can change. It’s not right to beat yourself up when these things happen, as if you’re less of the person you were before. The fact is, who you are never really changes, even if some event or new situation causes you to look at your life differently than you have in the past.
Honestly, I don’t believe I’m flawed in any way, and I don’t think anyone else is, either. Also, what are flaws? Those objective attributes that our society perceives as negative because they don’t match what we’ve been conditioned to believe are ideal? Show me someone living according to these societal ideals, someone whose life receives no negative scrutiny of any kind. Hell, show me someone who knows what exactly we’re all aspiring to become. Show me an objectively perfect person, and I’ll show you that I don’t care, because I know that you’ll never name me.
Our lives are shaped by our unique experiences. You can hate the fact that you’re unemployed, that you failed that class, or that everyone is staring uncomfortably at your outfit — but don’t hate yourself. Because even though you may see these things as negative, it doesn’t make your life negative.
What makes you happy? What can you say about yourself that nobody else can? Even if it means saying, “I became the person I hate, and I don’t hate myself for it,” that’s a much bigger accomplishment than dwelling upon the first part alone. No matter how difficult life becomes, or how far you think you’ve fallen, you still have yourself.
You are not flawed: you are just you.