10 ~ Self-acceptance

“You don’t get candy, because you’re already way too fat.” Those were the words my grandmother spoke to me when she gave a candy to my school friend. I was a teenage girl, less than twelve years old with a normal child’s body, that was just beginning to develop into a woman. A few weeks later I stood in a clothing store’s fitting room to fit a pair of pants and while I looked in the mirror at my new feminine curves, I only felt shame. I didn’t dare to get out of the fitting room out of shame for my body. I just wanted to cry. I wanted to cry because as a young girl I had already learned that the value of me as a person depended on the perfection of my body and because of my imperfect body I felt completely worthless as a person. 

I never understood how I could accept myself in a world from which I thought didn’t accept me. 

I think the social world of humanity is  divided into boxes and each box gives a certain value. A social value misinterpreted as self-worth. 

Among other things, intelligence, social class, prosperity, training, body and clothing are boxes where people can find so-called self-worth and the boxes are so diverse that virtually anyone can find boxes in which he or she will feel themselves appreciated. Even if someone thinks they’ve slipped out of the boxes, there’s always the box for people who think they’re living outside of all the boxes. The standards of that box is that there is no identification with other boxes and as consequence someone is still limited in his or her being. Identifying with boxes is searching for an identity outside of yourself. 

There are a lot of people who can live their lives between the walls of these boxes. They can continue to meet the standards of the boxes in which they want to be appreciated, and continue to feel valued throughout their lives. The obtained social value lies like a bandage over the lack of self-worth. 

But what if you can no longer meet the standards of the boxes or if you have never really fit in the boxes at all? 

As a child, I often felt like the black sheep of my social world. My heart wanted to give and receive love, but was not able to cope well in a world that was already incredibly dominated by fear and ego. At a young age I was socially cast out, lost my way at school and lost my way in life. As a child, I had not been given enough value that I could use as self-worth and there was no obtained social value that I could use as a bandage to cover the lack of self-worth. I didn’t fit in any of the boxes.  

“I wanted to cry because as a young girl I had already learned that the value of me as a person depended on the perfection of my body and because of my imperfect body I felt completely worthless as a person at that moment.” 

I had not acquired value for myself and so I searched for value by wanting a perfect body. The most achievable goal because everything else seemed unachievable and it was the box where I, as a woman and as a girl, received both the most compliments and bad comments about. My intellect never mattered or seemed to be appreciated and only my body seemed to determine my value. 

Because my body seemed to determine my value, I hated my body all my life for every imperfection and I felt depressed every time I failed to achieve a state of perfection with my body. 

When I started to focus on self-love, acceptance was a big part. Self-love means that you fully accept yourself, and that was what I had to do. I tried to tell myself that I fully accepted my body (and everything that defined me in the eyes of society) in all its imperfections, but the question continued to haunt me; how could I accept myself in a world where I had learned that it did not accept me because of my so-called imperfections? How can I accept myself if I don’t fit in the boxes and therefore fall out of society? 

And then it dawned on me; as long as my self-worth depended on social acceptance, I could not accept myself. I was still too dependent on other people’s opinions. Craved too much for acceptance, value and love to let go of the desire for perfection. 

I didn’t have to try to accept myself, I had to start working on my self-worth first and I could only do that by accepting myself….. 

I had always sought acceptance in outer perfection, my appearance (physically and mentally) towards the outside world, but now I had to accept my inner (personal) imperfections, because by accepting my inner imperfections I really began to accept myself. In this respect, I think that unconditional (self)love does not lie in perfection, but rather in imperfection. It’s easy to accept (my) positives, but in accepting (my) negative, dark sides there is true love. 

To create self-worth, I had to accept myself. 

In my mind, I created a caring, supportive and mostly forgiving mother’s voice that I let talk to me at the times when I failed to achieve perfection. ‘It doesn’t matter my dear, everyone makes mistakes’ or ‘it doesn’t matter that you can’t do that yet. It’ll come and if it doesn’t, then that’s alright too.‘ And if I did do something clumsy, she laughed lovingly at me and she would say I could try again. The maternal voice in my mind gave me acceptance and with that she gave me value. 

The motherly voice accepted me unconditionally and so I learned to accept myself unconditionally. By accepting myself unconditionally, I give myself value and turn that value into self-worth. 

I have also become increasingly aware of the fact that I put my value in other people’s hands and tried to see when I do it. When I catch myself in the act, I make myself aware that I am putting my value in the hands of that other person and it is precisely because of that awareness that I feel that my value is becoming more of myself again. 

Building my self-worth is my climb up from the canyon. When I reach the top, I hope I can live free of fear and ego from my heart. By realizing this, I also realize that I cannot accept everything and let go of all fear instantly. The higher I climb in self-worth, the better I can accept my social imperfections. The most important thing I can do now is accept from myself that I can’t accept everything yet, because it is precisely that with which I give myself unconditional acceptance. 

“But what if you can no longer meet the standards of the boxes or if you have never really fit in the boxes at all?” Then you have the chance to discover life outside of the boxes and when you can live without the walls of those boxes, you have infinite emotional personal freedom.