Accepting Who You Are
We all come into this world as blank canvases waiting for the various colors of life to be painted into our world. As children, our first knowledge of who we are comes from our parents. If our parents continue to feed us positive affirmations of our worth and value, we tend to grow with a positive self-esteem. However, if we are told over and over again that we are nothing and that we won’t amount to much in life, we will begin to believe this is true. As a child I used to hear people say, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This is not true. Even the bible tells us that the tongue can both cut and heal. We must be careful what we say to others, especially children.
We live in a time when accepting who we are can be difficult. Most of us compare ourselves to unrealistic standards set by advertising agencies, movie stars and the lives of the rich and famous. What we fail to realize, is that oftentimes these standards are a facade like movie sets on the lot of a studio. They represent a “front” with no real substance, constantly having to be propped up because they can’t stand on their own. I’ve had the opportunity many times to talk to people that others would often admire or envy. What I have discovered is, the very people we put on pedestals would love to trade places with people that could be classified as ordinary. I have learned that we must be careful what we desire because many times what we think we are running to, is often what we are running from.
Historically in the African American Community, the subject or discussion of “self esteem” has carried mixed emotions. When we look up the definition of self-esteem in the dictionary, we see that it means belief in oneself. We know that if we do not believe in ourselves and what we do, neither will anyone else. However, oftentimes people confuse “belief” in oneself with “vanity.” If we look at success models over time, the ones that have truly made a difference were those who not only accepted who they were, but did so with pride. Many who have left their mark on history were those who had to stand-alone or convince others to see things their way. It is important for you to know 1) who you are, 2) understand where you have come from and 3) determine where you want to go, if you are ever going to accept who you are to be.
Knowing Who You Are
When I was a little girl my grandmother would often say, never let anyone tell you who you are. I have a friend who always says, “never let anyone call you out of your name.” We have all heard the saying, “if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” I believe that it is very important to know what you stand for in life. When I speak at various functions around the country, I often share with people that it is important for you to know your meaning in life, so that you can prepare your message, in order to carry out your mission. When you know and understand your purpose and why you are here, it is much easier for you to accept who you are and the person that God has made you to be. We are all pieces of a puzzle that fit together to make a beautiful picture. If we are constantly trying to be someone else, we will not “fit” into the spot that has “our” name on it.
If you are currently struggling with who you are, what you look like or comparing yourself with others, I urge you to do the following three steps.
Write down on a piece a paper, all of the positive things that have happened in your life over the past year. If you can’t think of any let me give you a few suggestions. You have your health, a roof over your head, a job, a sound mind, and people that care about you. I heard a minister once say that if you count all your blessings, it will be hard to be depressed.
Make a list of all the positive things that people say about you. Once again, let me give you a few suggestions; she really has a nice personality, she has really nice skin, she is so thoughtful, she’s really a kind person. Maybe people comment on your discipline to work out, or your compassion for others. Never underestimate the gifts that God has given you, to make you unique. Remember, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. What you would easily throw away, others would take in a minute. I had a friend once tell me that she thought I had the gift of hospitality and encouragement. I thought to myself “what kind of gift is that?” Growing up in church, I wanted the gift of singing or playing the piano or something that the other girls had. Little did I know that the gifts of hospitality and encouragement would be the very way I would live my life and help others today.
Finally, make what I call a “wish” list. Write down the things that you would like to have or accomplish and then set a reasonable timetable to begin making them happen. The key here is to make sure you set realistic goals or expectations. Don’t wish that you were 5’11 if you are 4’9. But if you’ve always wanted red hair and your hair is brown, dye it! If you want a better body, diet and exercise. Just make sure whatever standards you set, you are doing it for yourself and that it is what you want, not what others say you should be.
Remember that we are all little kids in adult bodies. We all get up in the morning and put our underwear on one leg at a time. We all have good days and bad days. The next time you look into the mirror, say to yourself that you are wonderfully and beautifully made just the way you are. God does not make junk!