I've never really had an issue with the whole "be yourself" thing. Part of the reason for that could be that I've always been blessed to have a family and support system who love and respect who I am. Part of it could be because I have issues with stubbornness. It happens. But while continuing to be myself even when others are not understanding or accepting has always just been what I've done, the accompanying mental state of actually liking myself has proven to be more complicated.
I feel like I need to clarify some things here because this sounds terrible and sad. I generally feel pretty good about myself. I think I'm at least a slightly cool person. But there are some things that other people comment on more frequently that have made it more difficult to be myself without worrying about what other people think. There's those little comments that get in your head and spoil the activities you enjoy doing. After all, it's hard to enjoy things when you're thinking about how many times it's been suggested that you should enjoy other things more.
I'm a very introverted person. I value my alone time. I like to stay home and relax because my apartment is adorable and cozy and comfortable. I'm creative, so being able to make things makes me happy. I find silence to be comforting and calming. As my mother says, I do a lot of "deep thinking." And if I'm being completely honest, I'm getting tired of those things being viewed as qualities I should fix or change or minimize to "come out of my shell."
Because it's not a shell. It's just my personality. And for quite a while, I've been letting those perceptions get to me and make me feel like there's something wrong with me every time I choose alone time over socializing. But I've come to realize that if I can teach my fourth graders that people are different and expect them to accept those differences, I can do the same for everyone else.
I've started doing the things I enjoy unapologetically, and I've loved every minute. For someone who has, at times, been hyper-fixated on others' opinions and expectations, it's freeing to push those thoughts out of my head. I am who God made me. And I'm not saying that there's no room for improvement, but there's certainly no need for a complete personality shift. I know what I enjoy and what helps me function best and it's way past time I stop letting people's opinions make me feel bad about it.
So I guess this is my open letter, if you will, to the promise of being myself and liking it. And hopefully along the way, other people learn to like me being myself too. In the meantime, I'll be home, creating new things, basking in the silence, and enjoying every moment.
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