For a long time, I obsessed over all the things I wish I could change about myself. Some of those things were physical—I wished that I was taller and thinner, I wished I had better skin, and fervently dreamed of having teeth that didn’t look like something out of a Rimmel London ad. Many of the things I wished to change, however, were more integral and immutable parts of my identity—parts that I could never wish away, like my anxiety and depression. At times it wasn’t just that I wanted to tweak certain aspects of my identity; I wanted to completely wish away the attention-seeking, non-stop talking, dumpster fire of a person I perceived myself to be.And although many people reminded me of my positive attributes on a regular basis, I refused to acknowledge them. I fixated on everything that was wrong with me because I believed it was wrong to revel in what could be right. Instead of celebrating all of the things that made me unique or special, I invested all my energy into hating everything I wish were different.
I know how easy it is to question, torment, and criticize yourself for every thought you have and every decision you make. I know how difficult it is to block out the negative things people say, and avoid internalizing the shortcomings and mistakes you make. For some of us, there is nothing harder than learning to not just tolerate or accept yourself, but embrace everything you have to offer by being your authentic, unapologetic self.
Some of us internalize this notion that we shouldn’t own or take pride in ourselves because we don’t deserve it, or because we think we aren’t entitled of being proud of things others can do “better” than us. We can’t be happy with our “B+” because someone has an “A”, we can’t let someone call us beautiful because we know there are others more attractive than us, and we can’t celebrate our accomplishments because they pale in comparison to those our more successful peers. But the truth is that self-growth and self-love are things worth celebrating. Doing our best and being are best selves are things worth celebrating. Personally, I know I am not the best writer (I have the grammatical expertise of a four-year-old, but I also know that my writing demonstrates passion and insight; I know the words I write have had a positive impact on a few people, and that is something I should be proud of. I know that I am not as fit as a fiddle, but I know that I am as fit as a “Diddle”, and that I exhibit a level of dedication and commitment to my health that is worth acknowledging. I know I am not the best, but I am doing my best. That is something worth celebrating.
Season 8 winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Bob the Drag Queen, once said,“find something about you that you like and focus on that. If I don’t like my face, if I don’t like my skin, if I don’t like my weight. I think to myself ‘I have a nice tooth.’ And it may just start with that one tooth…That’s a nice tooth, man. And then once you can accept that little thing about yourself, you can just accept you for who you are.” I know all too well that I am not a perfect person, and that there are always going to be things that I wish I could change about myself no matter how much self-love and acceptance I have. Complete self-love is an unrealistic and unattainable goal in my opinion. But just because there are things we don’t like about ourselves does not mean we should ignore or reject the things we do like. I like my sense of humor. I think that I am funny as fuck, and I think my jokes bring joy to other people, which brings joy to me. And saying this does not mean I am self-indulgent or narcissistic, it means I am proud. And my hope is that by owning even the smallest sliver of myself, I can learn to live with and love the greater whole. Because at the end of the day, we are so much more than our mistakes and flaws. We are a sum of our parts—good and bad. And while we may not be perfect, we all have more to offer than we give ourselves credit for.