I remember when we first met…I was a child, and a happy child who had you, Self-Acceptance, in her life. Then as the teenage years came, I lost you. But by the time I was in university I had the songs; a thousand times, and I sang along. I listened to podcasts and watched the TV shows and movies about you – Self-Acceptance. A wave hit my peers as society decided WE should be allowed to put ourselves first. Oh, it was beautiful. Seeing my friends take time for themselves, stepping away from relationships that were harmful. Taking classes that they were genuinely interested in instead of what they were told to major in. Getting rid of all the toxic patterns they had in their life. There was an aura about them, they were in love.
And I could see it and the words were easy to say and it was easy to fake the motivational writing, but yet, in all that beauty I still struggled to find you, Self-Acceptance. I was mesmerized by your friend, Being Accepted by Others.
I saw you but it was more like passing an old friend in the corridor. The girl in my class who smiled at me, even on days that felt impossible. Somehow her smile was a reminder that I was alive. A boy I met at a party, who refused to accept my self-deprecating jokes. A teacher who encouraged my passion. I started to really listen to those songs, podcasts, TV shows and movies. I heard your voice, Self-Acceptance.
But I remember that exact moment we were reconnected, my second year of university. I almost didn’t recognize the feeling in my chest. I gave a speech about disabilities and advocating for ourselves and others. A speech I had practically refused to do. However, when I stepped off that stage and there you were, this feeling came rushing back to me. This emotion I couldn’t describe. Was it pride? In myself? No, it couldn’t be. But as I was congratulated by friends and strangers, you stuck around. I thought about how I had forgotten who I was through those teenage years. All because I prioritized a toxic relationship, with your friend, Being Accepted by Others, instead of my friendship with you.
I was so nervous when I decided to try to work on my friendship with you, Self-Acceptance. It was not easy. A relationship in which I’m prioritizing myself and loving myself despite my mistakes, and I felt like I was messing it up. But you encouraged me. So did the people around me, they encouraged my friendship with you and tried to get me to end the toxic one I had with being Being Accepted by Others. At the end of the day, it wasn’t because of anything I did, or anything the people closest to me did that ended that toxic relationship. It was strangers.
An act of kindness here, a compliment there. Slowly building this relationship we have and disproving the toxic one. They say you fall in love slowly and then all at once. For me, it was such a small transition that I almost didn’t notice how strong my feelings for you are. I suddenly looked in the mirror one day (as I had done a thousand times before) but this time I smiled, I saw who I was, and I felt comfortable. I spent an hour just thinking of who I was, and I let out a breath of relief. I had slowly become the person I had dreamed of being, and I hadn’t even noticed.
Thank you for taking the time to remind me of myself. Thank you for allowing me to mess up, because I know I still do; thank you for laughing at my self-deprecating jokes and continuously disproving them. Thank you for not hating me when I have momentary relapses and go back to Being Accepted by Others; thank you for always taking me back. Thank you for showing me the other side. I may not be able to say that I love you quite yet. But I like YOU. Actually, I like ME. That is something I haven’t been able to say in a long time.
Everyone is in a different part of the process of self-acceptance, and I wish everyone could be confident and comfortable in our identities. Whether it be our identity in our gender, sexuality, religion, disability, or our passion. But not everyone is at that point yet, so I encourage you to find the people that are and find out what helped them. Everyone deserves to love themselves, and if you aren’t ready for that, you should at least like the person you are becoming. I know there are people out there who love you just as you are.
Felicity Harfield is a 22-year old University of Michigan Graduate and also a dyslexic writer. At the age of 11, she moved from London, England to Detroit, Michigan. She still has an English accent, and has found when she first meets someone, it’s all they seem to care about. But after years of battling insecurities, anxiety, toxic relationships and periods of depression Felicity knows the truth. She sees who she is without the accent and toxicity she has experience and strives to continuously learn to love herself. This is a three-part series of letters to different elements in Felicity’s life. Felicity has found that writing letters to aspects of her identity that she is insecure about has helped her. She hopes to help other people who have gone through similar periods of confusion in their life. “I am not always comfortable with who I am. I may never fully love myself, but I see how others could love me and sometimes that’s enough.”