Am I pretty enough? Am I good enough? Am I more beautiful than she is? Have you heard she is a nerd? Do you know she started dating at the age of 10? Do you know what kind of dress she was wearing at the party? These are questions we normally hear around us or often it might be us who are asking these questions. The problem is not in these questions. But rather it lies in the answers to these questions or often the intention behind them. “Have you heard she is a nerd” is followed by “yes I know, she doesn’t go out and she is a bore.” “Do you know what kind of a dress she was wearing at the party” is followed by “it was so short, she looked so cheap.” Why are we so critical of people? Why are we so critical of ourselves?
I have always been good at studies throughout my life. Besides I was always active in school events like debates, dances, quizzes etc. I would help around in my home as well doing chores as and when required. You would think I had the most ideal life any person could have but in reality it was a far cry from that. I was bullied to no end at school for being the teachers’ favourite. I had no friends. Worse, some teachers too disliked me as they felt that children like me who always topped were arrogant and did not mix up with other students. I would be laughed at, humiliated and would be the butt of all jokes. Some of my cousins too harboured negative feelings for me as their parents would compare their achievements with mine which would frustrate them. I would feel their dislike towards me when I would meet them. So lonely I became that it broke my confidence and shattered my self esteem. My weight issues added to it and from the confident, outgoing, strong and fearless girl that I was I became an under confident, reserved and hyper-sensitive person. I started believing that there was something wrong with me that made people hate me. I turned my energies inside and would silently observe everything around me. I was a voracious reader and books became my best friend. They would take me into a fantasy world where everything was perfect and where I had the life that I had always wanted. I started observing people around me and learned so much about human nature. My father’s job took us places and the not-so-smooth ride of trying to fit into schools caused me to grow up quickly. I became mature much before my age and that is how it has always been. Even today I do not exactly fit in with people my age. I don’t enjoy things other people my age do. My thinking does not match with other people of my age. Even in college I have struggled to try and fit in. It’s the same story with my cousins too. I have spent years trying to figure out what is wrong with me and it has taken me all but 10 years to figure out a simple thing. I AM DIFFERENT.
And this is where I learned something very peculiar about human nature. Whatever is different, whatever does not conform to their thinking and normal pattern they find it wrong. They find it unacceptable and it is then condemned. Different is different. It is not wrong. And this is where acceptance comes. Acceptance is not just of ourselves though it is more important than anything else. Acceptance is also of others.
Let’s first talk about accepting our own self. When we are critical of others it is usually our way of assuaging our own insecurity. So accepting our self is the first step towards accepting someone else. The first important thing is to believe in yourself. Do things that you are good at and things that you have always wanted to do. Feel good about yourself. The next thing is to work on things that you do not like about yourself. Whether it’s a quality that you do not like about yourself or it is matters like physical appearance that you want to change, do it. Nothing boosts your confidence like the ability to change your weaknesses to strengths. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. It’s not important to be perfect. It’s more important to be always keep striving for it and to keep improving. Finally, you have to know your limitations and accept things that you can’t change. Always remember though- there is a difference between giving up and accepting yourself and you should make sure that you know when to give up.
Once you have accepted your own self it becomes easy to accept others too. We should always remember one thing. Different does not necessarily imply wrong. It just means someone else is not the same as us. Also, being a part of the majority does not the mean that the minority is wrong. Let’s say that there is one group who does not like to party or drink and there is another group of people who are fond of it. Neither should judge the other on their preferences or likes. So if a person does not like to party the others should not tag him as a bore or an anti-social. Similarly the one who doesn’t party should not tag those people who do as spoilt or good for nothing kids. It’s about accepting others as they are and not judging them.
Finally, people who find it difficult to fit in should remember that there is nothing wrong with them. They just need to accept their differences and make peace with themselves as well as those around them. We often see such people resenting the world for not accepting them. Believe in yourself and along the way you will find people who will understand you and value you for your differences. You may not have 50 friends like others but rather just 5. But they will stay with you for life and understand you like no other person. Accept yourself and the world will suddenly become more beautiful. It surely has for me.