Self acceptance is something I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember.
My insecurities have changed over the years, but they’ve always been there — I’ve worried that I’m too shy/too boring/not good enough/a crap writer and I’ve picked at so-called flaws like my nose (inherited from Grandma), the gaps in my teeth, and the way my voice sounds. (It ranges from anything between Hermione in The Philosopher’s Stone to a strong Kentish dialect with missing letters.)
Like many of us, and many women in particular, I’ve spent more time than I care to admit feeling bad and even feeling guilty about the way I am, but I don’t want to be sorry anymore. Looking after myself has become the priority it always should have been since I graduated last year and that includes (gradual) self acceptance, how difficult it might be.
Last month I read a wonderful blog post by Jasmin — 8 Things I’ve Stopped Apologising For. It’s a polite but brilliantly blunt list and it got me thinking about what my own would be. On Self Acceptance and Not Being Sorry was the result.
|Tackling the most garlicky bruschetta I’ve ever tasted in my life. I kept my distance from everyone for the rest of the day but it was most certainly worth it.|
I’m Not Sorry
1. For being a shy introvert
My shyness and introversion are something I’ve questioned and even tried to deny since I was at primary school. I never put my hand up for anything and hated being watched, but so many of the other children would beg to be picked to read out and perform that I’d wonder what was wrong with me.
I’ve become more comfortable with being an introvert as time has passed, particularly since I stopped taking dance classes. (Let’s just say I’m not a natural performer and it’s not worth doing something that causes so much anxiety.) Earlier this year I read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain and it was a book I think I needed — I found my people!
But I still had the lingering feeling that shyness is something I should have grown out of by now. Well, I haven’t. It’s improved enormously, but it’s there. And for the first time, I don’t feel bad about that. It’s natural to feel nervous around new people, or people you don’t know very well, and certainly nothing to be ashamed of.
2. For being sensitive
I get hurt easily. I’ve never watched Titanic more than once because it made me howl like a wolf (it was based on a real-life disaster and there was room for Leo, okay?) But sensitive people are normally good at feeling empathy for others, which comes in handy when your friends and family (and the whole damn world at the time of writing) are going through a rough patch. We may cry at the drop of a hat, but we care.
3. For needing to plan
Nothing alleviates my anxiety quite like having a plan. I make to-do lists daily, I have a beast of a planner, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that using spreadsheets has changed my life. I’ve been told that this is strange, but it works for me so I’m sticking with it.
4. For needing time alone
If you’re not a people person then chances are you need a balance between being social and being by yourself. The definition of healthy balance will vary from person to person; I need time to recharge every day, even if it’s just an hour, or it all gets too much. Simple things like cooking, reading, yoga and pilates help me to stay calm and get ready for the day ahead.
5. For not drinking or clubbing much
Going out out so much a part of the British culture and not one I’ve ever felt fully invested in. Like many people I spent a fair bit of time getting trollied when I was at uni, particularly during third year, but I’ve reached a point where I’m over it. Really over it. I’m not sure I was ever really under it in the first place, to be honest.
I like a well-mixed cocktail and I’m very partial to gin, but I don’t want to be steaming. If I’m going to drink, I would much rather go to a nice bar or cosy up in the pub for a good conversation. And that’s okay! Likewise, if you wanna spend every weekend drinking and dancing and just having a good time, you do you.
As my friend Lannee once said, you don’t have to justify yourself, but I needed to write all of this down so a) it was out of my head in actual sentences, and b) so I can look back on it when any guilty thoughts or insecurities make an appearance.
What aren’t you sorry for? Let me know in the comments!
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Beth, 26, South East England.
Lover of books, dogs, yoga, travelling, and gin.
I write about ethical & eco-friendly living, minimalism, and mental health, as I muddle through one step at a time. Enjoy!