Friday, March 7, 2014

Being the True Me: Accepting the sugar & the spice

What makes each of us, us? Are we the sum total of our quirks, virtues, shortcomings and goodness? Or, do we choose to define ourselves through what’s bright and light in each of us?

I’ve often noticed that we like to shove our quirks and shortcomings under the proverbial carpet, or not acknowledge them at they belong to someone else. Like the cheap accessories the lady at the supermarket sports; like eccentric clothing on the fashion ramp that we look at and comment on, but never venture out to buy. 

It’s so easy to look at someone else and comment on their shortcomings. But it’s just as difficult to look in the mirror of our souls and touch upon what’s dark, what’s negative, what’s not so-suitable in us.“Oh, I’m not like that at all!” “I would never do what she did!” “I don’t believe in that!” You hear statements like that all the time. Statements flung about carelessly in gossip sessions and locker rooms, during coffee mornings and parties. Statements that are actually meant to judge another, while acquitting the speaker of the said ‘sin’. Statements that sometimes reveal more about a person than self-professed manifestoes about one’s goodness. 

But really, if each of us stops for a moment and thinks this through, do we really believe that we’re made of sugar and sunshine, only sugar and sunshine? Or, do we want to paint our façade with everything that’s supposed to be nice and accepting, while burying what’s unfavorable in the depths of our existence? 

Sometimes consciously and sometimes subconsciously, we try to hide our ‘flaws’. We build this image of ourselves in our own minds; an image that’s benevolent and balanced, rational and rare. We add every quality to this image that the world, the onlooker, family will find attractive, adorable or endearing. We do this to conform, to be loved, to keep criticism at an arm’s distance, to be part of the herd. But in the process of creating and refining this image, we stop taking cognizance of the real us. The real us with the moles and quirks. That us that’s made of both – the positive and the negative. 

My journey on the path of self-acceptance: Over the past couple of years, I’ve been trying to stop worshiping the Image, being a slave to what others think, and being hard on myself just because someone doesn’t approve of the complete me. It’s not been easy because any kind of honesty takes courage and faith and patience. Courage because you’ll have plenty of roadblocks along the way in the form of critiques and comments. Faith because without this you’ll want to give up on your quest to acknowledge and accept your true self. Endurance because this goal is for the long haul and without oodles of stamina, you’ll sure run out of steam.

This is what I’ve learnt while on this journey to accept my version of sugar and spice and all that’s not so nice:

Almost everyone around you will want to whittle down those qualities of yours that they perceive as personality flaws or they find inconvenient.

You will attract a beehive full of comments and gossip because in the entire group you’ll probably be the only one wearing your true self on your sleeve. Honesty is often met with disapproval.

Sometimes you’ll stop and wonder what’s more difficult – being the true you or changing yourself to suit others.

When I say this, I do not mean that you should not work at being a better version of you. Or that you should flaunt your flaws. But what I’m talking about here is getting to know the real you. Self-acceptance and being less hard on yourself. None of us are perfect. But instead of going down the path of self-flagellation, let’s work at working with what we're all about.

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