Getting to know who you are as a person and embracing it rather than trying to conform, is one of the most beautiful things about aging. Sadly, at a time when you need it most – childhood, adolescence – being comfortable in your own skin isn’t easy.
Teaching children how to be confident in their talents, appearance, and personalities is imperative. A well-rounded society is created when children learn that they are unique not only now, but in the future as well. If we teach the following foundations to our youth, they will grow and prosper. Take them a step further and look at yourself. Positive thoughts will promote confidence and change not only how you view yourself, but how others view and treat you as well.
1. Know That You Are Not Your Worst Mistakes
Our past actions shaped today. But we are not what we’ve been. We don’t need to carry around labels or mistakes from yesterday as if they define us. Whatever you’ve done, it’s over. It doesn’t have to brand you, particularly not if you’re making the conscious choice to do things differently now.
We can judge ourselves by the weakest moments or the strongest—that’s our choice. Choose to focus on the strongest, and then leverage that pride for more of those moments. Every time you feel good about what you do it’s one more reminder to love who you are.
2. Know You Have Nothing to Prove
I don’t care how esteemed or successful someone is. There are things they’re proud of and things they’re ashamed of; and inside they wish people would see more of the former and less of the latter.
We all want validation. It’s an intrinsic human need to feel connected to other people; and oftentimes when we feel alone, it’s because we believe we haven’t proven how good we are or can be.
You don’t have to show the world you’re good. You don’t have to try to hide the things you’ve done that might not seem flattering. You just need to forgive and accept yourself and trust that other people will, as well.
Being authentic means being vulnerable–letting people see all your different facets, trusting they won’t judge you, and knowing that if they do that’s completely on them.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be real with people and know the ones who accept me accept me fully, than pretend and then have to maintain the illusion that I am something I’m not.
3. Know the Dark is Valuable
Because we err and hurt, we can empathize when other people are hurting. We can reach out of ourselves, forget our own pains, and hold other people up when they need it.
That we have strengths and weaknesses is intrinsically human. If I didn’t have less flattering traits and stories, this site would likely not exist.
When you realize your flaws can help the world and bring us closer together, suddenly they seem less like liabilities and more like assets.
4. Know That You Matter
When I was a child, an authority figure in my life told me, “If I was your age, I wouldn’t be your friend.”
I held onto this for years—that given the choice, most people wouldn’t like me. As I got older, a lot of people appeared to feel uncomfortable around me, and for good reason. I was like a leech on them, desperately hoping they’d un-say that one horribly undermining comment someone else spoke years ago.
I couldn’t believe I mattered until someone said it to me. Well now I know differently—I know I do matter, and that how my life matters is dependent on what I do from day to day.
Know that you touch countless people’s lives every day, even if someone isn’t blogging or tweeting about it. Just like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, you do kind things that have a ripple effect you can’t possibly measure.
Even if not everyone has recognized it, you make a positive difference in the world. Your positive self regard may feel stronger at some times than others, but even the smallest seed of love is valuable because it can grow.
All these warm fuzzy feelings mean very little if you sit alone, wishing you could experience the world differently. Once we accept that we’re worthy of love and our dreams, the natural next step is to actually create those things–not what we think we should do; what we really want to do.
Get out into the world. Do that thing that scares and excites you. Recognize you’re awesome for doing it, even if in just one small step. Give yourself permission to not be perfect, and instead focus on progress.
Love in action every day. Do something kind for you. Do something kind for others. Do something kind for the world.
Acknowledge your weaknesses, work to improve them, but say loud and proud that they will not define you. If you start worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, remember you deserve to enjoy the present–but only you can make it happen.
I haven’t always done this. I’ve let a lot of moments slip away while I curled up in my head, wishing I was someone better. But those moments have passed, and in this moment, I am happy with me. I may not know you, but I know I want that love for you, too. I know you deserve it.
This has been a little uncomfortable for me, to be honest. I’ve yet again split myself open. But this time I’m not trying to change what’s inside. I’m just here telling you I am flawed, like we all are, and that’s not only OK but beautiful.
Thoughts, comments, questions? Email me, JennKaysen@gmail.com
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