Accepting Myself Despite the Critics

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I’ve always thrived on the validation, praise and acceptance of others. To me, it’s worth more than gold. But of course, you can’t please all the people all the time. This is a horrible feeling for someone like me who tends to focus more on those people who do not accept her than on those people who do. I am so blessed that I have the amount of support that I do, and yet I still feel that I am a disappointment to those who expect something different from me. Unfortunately, if I change myself to please these people then I will surely offend those who already accept me as I am. What’s worse, if I change at all to fit someone else’s mould, well then I will disappoint myself -and I am most definitely my toughest critic.

As I explore the causes of my depression more, I am beginning to understand that most of my problems centre around the fact that I have never felt as if I could truly be myself for fear of being judged too harshly by my critics. For example -as some of you know- I am the type of girl who speaks her mind, wears unconventional clothing and longs for a body adorned with tattoos. But I always think “what would — think? And what would — say about it?” I do express myself in all of the above ways, but perhaps not to the extent that I would if I really didn’t care what others thought of me. There has always been this girl inside me -the real me- who has been restless, screaming and beating at me to escape. This girl is sad. This girl is a prisoner in my body and she is depressed, which makes me depressed too. I know now that the only way I will ever feel truly fulfilled and content is if I set this girl free: Free to be herself. In order to do that though, I am pushing myself to overcome my fear of others’ opinions. In a society where we are conditioned to conform and uphold the status quo, this is not an easy feat.

I’ve recently been offered a contributor’s position at a local magazine and I could not be more thrilled about it. That being said, this magazine aims to be controversial, outspoken and brutally honest. On the one hand, this is wonderful! I myself am all of these things, and I know I will do well as a writer here. On the other hand, my critics will likely be up in arms about some of what I have to say. I will definitely upset a few people and piss off others. After all, that’s the nature of controversy. But I find myself in the same dilemma again: Do I say exactly what I want to say exactly how I want to and then feel bad that I’ve offended some people? Or do I hold back and sugar coat my voice and then feel bad that I am not being true to myself?

In the end, I’m realizing that the self needs to come first, and despite it’s origins, this is not akin to being selfish. The definition of selfish is “a person, action or motive lacking consideration for others.” In no way do I ever lack consideration for others. As I have said, the amount of consideration I have for others is actually my greatest downfall. I never do anything to deliberately hurt others as the punishment of guilt is simply to heavy for me to willingly bring on myself. However, if others are hurt or offended by me as a side effect of me being myself, that is not something I can control.

I am learning the lessons slowly, but with each revelation I feel I am getting closer to where I want to be. While I don’t think happiness is something that needs to be earned, I think sometimes it does need to be learned. For me, right now, I’m learning to be myself and be okay with it despite the opinions of my critics. I’m learning that other people can only control my happiness if I let them. I’m learning that being the person I feel I was meant to be is not a bad thing, and I cannot control who I am inside any more than I can control the weather. The soul -like the wind- is a powerful force and the only way to find peace is to stop resisting and let it blow where it wants to -and if it wants to blow into a tattoo shop or onto the pages of a controversial magazine, then I’ll truly be damned if I try to stop it.

 
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