Learning Self-Acceptance

Or as I like to say, “something I haven’t done yet.” I will share something that I believe is probably one of the saddest traits about myself. I have never felt beautiful. Or smart. Or talented. Or significant. I’m not sure if that counts as one trait or multiple traits. This is not me trying to romanticize or legitimize low self-esteem because you know what sucks? Leeches. Leeches and having low self-esteem. This is just me being fairly transparent. It is tough to put those honest feelings into words that I can see because these are not things people desire to hear. And low self esteem is always deemed a personal problem or an attempt to get people to compliment you. I’m not trying to sell my esteem to buy compliments or pity. I need neither bought compliments or free pity.

Usually when I tell people that I am the baby of the family I hear, “Ohhhh I bet you were spoiled,” even though I’m about 9000% sure I’ve gotten more whoopings than my older siblings (I was the child who weighed my bad decisions. If it was worth the whooping I went for it…then ma switched over to doing 2 hour long lectures instead and I realized no bad decision was worth her repeating her point 12 times). Anyway, the only impact I have ever felt of being the youngest is that I was always living by comparison.  My brother was outgoing and popular with his peers. If you haven’t seen me say it I’ll say it again, he’s a doctor of mechanical engineering. He has a way of knowing what to say and when to say it. He is also very handsome and gets mistaken for John Legend everywhere he goes. I am not kidding, he is seriously mistaken for John Legend and has been asked to sign autographs before (and he did it because he didn’t have the heart to tell them he was just Jonathan and not John Legend). My sister is hilarious and witty. She carries herself with confidence and never needs anyone’s company to go places (which to me is a big deal because I can never go anywhere alone…). She has a degree in Psychology and has never had an issue with finding a friend in strange places (that sounds suspect. I just mean that she can go somewhere she’s never been before and still find someone to hang with). Plus she’s gorgeous, very very very gorgeous. My family is just very good looking. Now I don’t know their personal confidence struggles so I will admit that I’m going off of outsider vibes which can be deceiving but I do know I experienced comparison upon comparison…upon comparison. With my brother it was more of an intelligence and achievement comparison. With my sister is was a comparison of attractiveness. This also reveals how sexist people are with comparisons. Now I find myself continuing the tradition by doing my own comparisons. I size myself up against my friends, people I’ve gone to school/church with, and sadly enough people whose pictures float around on Tumblr. You know those popular tumblr girls. They can’t help it, I can’t fault them. But now instead of me striving to accept myself I’m wishing for some magical transformation from the inside out. Which I’ve been doing for years….

Growing up I was chubby, wore glasses, had a gap, and had acne. I still wear glasses, have a gap, and have acne….so yea. I was not stylish AT ALL.  I even wore slip in sneakers during the 6th grade, y’all. My God, I hate to even think about it. (-.-)  I had hair that was always frizzy, even after the perms and the hot comb sessions at my Grandmother’s house. I got picked on though I wouldn’t say I was all out bullied. If I ran and I “jiggled” too much I would hear the boys chant “Amber’s too fat to chase us!” And you know the older folks have to hit you with the old “you need to straighten up and suck your gut in” line. I was constantly asked “What happened?” when people saw my acne, a question I have never known how to answer. If this question sprang from an adult it was immediately hit with a flurry of skin care advice. I’ve been called squirrel and chipmunk because of my gap. I’ve been told I could chew through wood (which actually is a pretty funny insult now that I look back on it). Children can be so cruel. So so cruel. One thing I’ve learned is that if people don’t find you attractive they have no qualms in letting you know.  I was quiet so I never stood up for myself except for two times that I can recall. I usually have to meditate on my comebacks. I’m the type of person who thinks of a really good rebuttal three hours later. I used to drown the feelings of inadequacy in dreams of growing up to be skinny with long hair and clear skin. Well, life did not see fit for me to have long hair and clear skin, but I did lose a substantial amount of weight. I also learned that when you lose weight you sometimes don’t know how to dress your new body. I started wearing too tight clothes and that didn’t go over well. I remember wearing a pair of jeans that were pretty tight to youth service at church and a couple of girls were making remarks about me like I wasn’t two feet in front of them. Needless to say I never wore those pants again which may not have been a bad thing. But those pants weren’t the only too small things I was holding on to in life. My confidence was as well. (That transition was sooooo terrible).

Before I hit Junior High-school I was a rebellious force to be reckoned with. I did not like to feel belittled or disrespected well before I even knew what those things meant. In daycare I got in trouble for punching a boy in the arm after he got me in trouble during nap time.  In kindergarten I scratched someone for breaking in front of me in line. Wait, maybe I just had misplaced aggression….On a less violent note I didn’t mind speaking out. In 2nd grade I was made fun of for not being able to color in the lines and I let my classmates know that they could kick rocks.  I was involved in a lot of school musicals and plays. In the 3rd grade I made up a dance to go to “Grand Ole Flag” (is that the name of that song???) and taught it to my friend Kierra. We showed our teacher, and she asked us to perform it at open house. I got up there and put in some Beyonce type work! Beyonce wishes her Single Ladies choreography could match up to mine! My favorite teacher Mrs. Swanson had us perform a 5th grade play for Christmas, and I auditioned for the lead role of fairy god mother. I ended up getting the part but gave it to my friend who also auditioned. She was pretty upset that I won over her, and let me say that I may have won because I was really cool with my teacher. I mean I would call her and talk to her about absolutely nothing. Which was pretty creepy of me. I’m glad she had entertained my weird behavior. I also talked with ease. Actually, I used to talk too much. It got me in a world of trouble in the 2nd grade. I would write my own Easter and Mother’s Day speeches and recite them at church.  I never had boyfriends (still haven’t to this day), but when my sister’s boyfriends would call I would talk to them with no problem at all. One time her boyfriend asked her to sing and she gave the phone to me and I sang instead. He told me I sounded amazing. Nine and a half times out of ten he was lying, but that didn’t stop my show. Basically, I used to like myself and accept myself. But as I got older I started to like and accept myself less, and my self-esteem never grew with me. I joke quite a lot about how I never outgrew the awkward puberty stage, but I really believe that I didn’t. I haven’t experienced the “glow up” that’s supposed to happen during high school. Thanks for nothing 4-c Jesus! I look at these middle-schoolers today who never have had heads too big for their bodies or don’t have to wear clothes that their mother’s pick out and I’m just wondering what is in the water these days? What is McDonald’s serving in the happy meals?

To make matters worse, people don’t ease up on making you feel worse about what you already don’t like about yourself until someone universally attractive comes along and says something cliche. No one cares about attraction being a social construct until an attractive person says it. Then its, “yasss, speak girl!” But I’ve been ugly and saying that for years. *side eye* If you’re thought to be unattractive you’re going to be reminded to stay in your lane. It’s like the laws of the highway where slower traffic stays in the right lane and you bless out the slow pokes who tend to drift into the left lane.  You can post a pic in the most amazing of outfits and feel the best you’ve ever felt in life and someone will come along and tell you that you’re too ugly to feel good about yourself.  It’s become a trend on the internet to take someone’s picture and repost it with mean captions. Or to take a picture of someone without them knowing and post it as a joke on social media sites. I just saw a post on tumblr earlier of a plus sized model wearing a fitted maxi dress with a slit. I thought she looked beyond amazing BUT here comes some self entitled guy who says that fat people need to wear things that work for their size. He said she looked nasty. This is the reason many other people out there feel the way I do. No matter how hard we try someone will see us as unappealing and demean our existence. Remember when I said that I used to texturize my hair? Actually did I mention that before? If not, I used to texturize my hair. This was after I quit getting perms and I didn’t know that texturizers were still chemicals which altered the state of natural hair. Don’t judge me. But I used to the use the “Just for Me” texturizer because it made my hair easier to comb. One time I trusted my mom to buy the texturizer without me being in the store to help her. BIG MISTAKE. She got the “African Pride” texturizer kit, which should be named “African Disgrace.” I didn’t think it would be a big deal so I used it just the same as I would use my usual kit.  Wellllll the devil was busy that night and it ended up coming out a complete disaster. It was almost  bone straight on the sides, loosely curled in the front and back, and basically took no effect in the middle. It was one of those time where if my school allowed hats I still would have opted for staying home and hiding until the texturizer washed out some weeks later. And you could bet your bottom dollar that I cried like a new born baby when I looked in the mirror. I mean I wept, y’all. If I had cried any harder I would have cried the chemicals out of my hair. It was so embarrassing. I had never legitimately cried in front of my mom or sister before that day or revealed to them that I didn’t feel pretty. Yet there I was, a 16 year old teenager bawling my eyes out over my hair.  My sister tried her best to console me telling me it would be okay, that we could fix it some how for school the next day. I basically came right out and said people already thought I was ugly because of my bumpy skin, and I just looked even worse with my hair like that. I’m glad that we were able to fix it well enough with some curling creme and some intense patting. I wish I could say it’s a thing I look back on and laugh at but I can’t even laugh at it. It’s just sad to know that I felt that bad about myself. That I let other people make me feel bad about myself.

In a way I still let those years of insults and remarks mold my self image. I don’t wear crop tops or tube tops because I still haven’t accepted my body. I tend to wear make up when I’m going out in public to cover up my acne. I try to sound funny and social instead of just accepting that I’m less of a talker. I beat myself up when I’m around friends who are very sociable because I wish that I could be more outgoing. I’ve made sly attempts to throw my GPA or ACT scores into conversations so that I can prove that I’m not as dumb as I believe people think I am. I am constantly selling myself short since I’m pretty sure I can’t live up to anyone’s expectations, and I would rather not set myself up for the fall. I will say that I am trying to accept and love myself more, but I keep falling into old habits of just dreaming of transforming. Everyday I’m finding something else I want to change. I want longer hair, wider hips, fuller lips, a less square head, wittier responses, a bigger vocabulary, more stylish clothes, better memory, whiter teeth, fleekier eyebrows, a PS4, a million dollars, so on and so forth. I’m like Vegeta trying to hit Super-Saiyan status, but I’m always in the shadow of Goku. I wrote the bible verse “I am wonderfully and fearfully made” on my mirror and try to repeat it to myself. I remind myself everyday that attraction does not equal beauty and that not everyone will find me attractive, but that doesn’t make my beauty any less. All I have got to say is that this is a job. I should get paid and have benefits for how much work I’m putting into loving myself. I never thought it would be so difficult to be born as someone and just not know how to accept that someone. I was going to say that they should sell confidence in the stores but I realized that they actually are trying to sell confidence, just in the form of surgery, make up, clothing, diet pills, and everything else they use to remind you that you’re not good enough on your own. (No offense to those who have had surgery or wear make up. I know that’s not always about low self-esteem). I know it’s not all about physical appearance or how smart you are but this doesn’t alleviate pressure to be perfect. Don’t get me wrong. There are things I do like about myself. I’m a creative person. I laugh and smile a lot. I am a weird type of humorous. The type where even if no one else laughed at my cracks chances are I did. I have this awesome tan line on my feet that I think it pretty legit. I think that I have elfish ears and that’s pretty cool, right?

I would end this post in an apology about complaining. But I’m just not about to undermine my feelings by doing so. I will apologize for writing this looooooong post though. One day I’ll learn to write shorter things….I promise. I’m always open to hearing about how those who have similar thoughts and feelings build themselves up. I hope you know that you’re beautiful or handsome no matter what anyone says. This is a fact I hope you accept and live by. I also hope it’s a fact that I accept as well. I want this to be a post I look back on and say, “wow I can’t believe I felt like that! I’m so glad I don’t any more!” I want to make this a thing of the past and for it stay in the past. I also still want a PS4 and a million dollars…..


2 thoughts on “Learning Self-Acceptance

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