Unless you are a complete narcissist, take comfort in knowing that no one will hate you as much as you hate yourself. Walk around in your own skin freely knowing that no matter how many times someone glowers at you for existing, their sentiment cannot possibly be worse than whatever your brain conjured up for you at three o’clock this morning when you couldn’t sleep. I know this and I’ve made a lot of apologies in my life. I’ve made apologies for being manic, for being depressed, for getting obnoxious, for reading the wrong signals, for mistakes I’ve made. BUT, over time, I’ve made fewer apologies. Not because I’ve turned into a “take me as I am or leave me be” type, but because, at some special point in my life, I started learning from my mistakes. Whoever said, “never make the same mistake twice” forgot the humanity involved in mistake-making. Usually, the first time a mistake is made, it is hardly apparent it was a mistake and one chalks it up to experience. The second time that same mistake is made, acknowledge it as a mistake, but what is the lesson learned? After that pesky third mistake, one can really start identifying the risk factors involved in making that mistake again, and start taking precaution. I’ve found, however, that many of my mistakes involve ME, MYSELF, and I, that is, inherent personality flaws that are so much harder to ignore than the irritating experiences I wish I could have a do-over for.
Note: Although this is not a self-help blog, it is not not meant to carry tidbits of advice. Below is a three-step recipe for making peace with your personality flaws.
Revelation One. Repeat after me: “I am not perfect.” Sure, no one actually thinks they’re perfect (see self-loathing point above), but we do act like we think we’re perfect. Example: when someone attempts to navigate us to safer shores, we push back. We don’t need to lose weight because others should accept us for who we are. We don’t need to reign in our large personalities because if we’re offending anyone, that’s their problem. Or, even more telling, when someone else has lost a lot of weight, their homeschooled child speaks four languages fluently, and they post pictures on social media of their healthy meal prep for the entire week, our first response is, “well, that’s great for them, but I… (rattle off list of reasons why what you do is perfect for you).” It’s true, we deserve to be accepted at whatever stage we are at in life. It’s also true that we’ve built our lives around what works for us. However, we also deserve for life to get better. We owe it to ourselves to better ourselves and be the best person possible to get the most out of life. In today’s world, it is all too easy to call other people idiots because they have a different perspective than you. A thousand people will “like” your opinion, creating false validation that you are the correct party in an argument. I’ve fallen prey to that mindset, too. I’ve also complained that my fellow law students were aggravating because of the idiot questions they asked in class and why were they even in law school if they couldn’t figure out such an easy concept (newsflash, they probably got better grades than me because they weren’t too afraid to ask questions!) Bottom line, recognizing that we have room for improvement is the singular best way to get that motivation groove going.
Revelation Two. Repeat after me: “I accept my imperfections.” Sit with me on the couch for a moment as I type this instead of doing my law school homework due tomorrow. My dog is sleeping contentedly next to me. What would he say about me? That I take too long in the mornings before taking him out for his constitutional. That sometimes I get so wrapped up in my bar prep assignments that it can be an hour before I notice dinnertime has passed. He also probably notices I can’t make the rain stop, either. But, he still gets excited to see me when I come home. He still rolls over on his back for belly rubs whenever he wakes up. And, he wags his tail whenever I walk into the room, even if I’ve been gone for a matter of minutes. My imperfections as a dog mom don’t outweigh his love for me. He doesn’t even know I have bipolar disorder. All he knows is that whatever there is between us, it is enough.
Accepting ourselves also includes accepting mistakes we’ve made and mistakes we’re most likely going to make again. I’d get manic, I’d get drunk and excited and flirty and oh ye gads what was that stranger doing in my bed the following morning. Why was I hungover on a Tuesday. Why did my Audrey Hepburn gloves come off to reveal a rampant, sex-crazed Marilyn Monroe every time my mood got a spring in its step. I accept it as part of who I was, but I also acknowledge that part of me was not my best self. I accept that when I get depressed, I sit in front of my computer and stream television shows I have memorized over and over again while reading self-help articles online without putting in any effort to actually feel better.
I also accept that if I weren’t a total weirdo, my fiancé might not have fallen in love with me, or my friendships might be less successful. Although often a hindrance to integrating well with “society,” my imperfections created the monster I am today, and I am grateful.
Revelation Three. Repeat after me: “I will strive for perfection.” Wait, WHAT!? Yes, you heard yourself correctly. Since we’re all imperfect, there is room for improvement! Be nicer. Educate yourself on something you know nothing about. Listen to a viewpoint you disagree with without interrupting. Surround yourself with others who are nothing like you. So what if you’re a C student. Strive for a B- and be dammed if it doesn’t make you feel good to improve a bit. The catch is, you will never be perfect. I will never be perfect. We will never achieve perfection. But, once we step off of our soap-boxes, stop making moral arguments, and stop patting ourselves on the back for being “better” than other people, then we start allowing ourselves to truly see how we can improve upon ourselves and begin moving forward.