Understanding yourself comes at a great depth. The dissection of one’s ‘self’ requires stretching your entire being to its maximum – width-wise, length-wise, and depth-wise. Like peeling an onion, layer by layer, and the tearing each layer apart into it’s fibrous pieces, sometimes fresh and crisp, and other times, soft and mushy, understanding yourself is pretty much the same. Sometimes you find our layers of your personality that are uplifting and positive, and sometimes, you find negative patterns that you need to discard.
Either way, one should always face themselves with positivity.
Often times, when people ask me what has changed me the most, I would tell them what my Guru always tells me – “Accept yourself just the way you are.” The response I get would vary between a guilty “Yeah… I should love myself more….” to a burst of “That’s so hard!” and sometimes a defensive “What do you mean? I treat myself to red wine and chocolate all the time! Isn’t that called loving and accepting yourself?”
What is so hard about accepting yourself just the way you are? It’s merely loving every single thing about yourself. One can also confuse this word for the kissy-kissy I want to cuddle you and pamper you, glittery rainbow kind of ‘love’, but this is a different love we are talking about here.
It is the act of utmost respect and appreciation for yourself – humble and grateful for everything that you are.
And so getting to know your ‘true’ self will take time. Because there are so many things that you believe about yourself, or intensely want for yourself that might just not be you at all.
I, for example, love to be the best at everything. So because of this desire (and not realizing or understanding that I have this so severely at first), I was almost always discontent in school. When I joined the Faculty of Architecture at Chulalonglorn University, thinking that I could use my artistic talents for a living and applying it to architectural endeavors, I became…less than average in my class…considering the number of students in my year tripled from high school, and considering that Chula is like Thailand’s Harvard right…? I wasn’t popular anymore. I sucked at school. I sucked also because all the smartest kids in town were there and I was no where near the best anymore.
I drowned myself in a suppressed shame, embarrassment, and exhaustion… because my so-called popularity from high school and my ‘smart ass whiz kid’ image that I had of myself crashed miserably. My vision of life pretty much collapsed, and I didn’t understand why I was so miserable (besides the fact that I ended up hating the course! Hahaha)
I was trying so hard internally to cope with the change, and I couldn’t. I know how this sounds.. some of you might just be like Gosh what a brat! Just cuz you ain’t the hottest anymore.
I know… but you see, I had no coping mechanism at all for such things. Success throughout my life that came so easily has brought such a huge ego to me. I always took my hard work for granted because I don’t ever feel it’s enough. And I always took my achievements for granted because sometimes it came so effortlessly.
Besides the fact that I have identified how much I want to be perfect (blah blah blah I know I know, I keep mentioning this), I’ve also realized how miserably my habit of always comparing myself with other people is, and how much jealousy and self-condemnation I inflict upon myself in my life.
At uni, I became the girl who didn’t even understand the heck the professors were teaching anymore, who started flunking classes, who made mock-up models of sophisticated houses look like a play-do creation of a pre-school child.
Because of my pressure to succeed in life SO BAD, I became unnecessarily overly serious about every damn thing. It destroyed me as a person then. It destroyed the people around me. And I ended up attracting people with similar traits to me (like attracts like). Because I wanted to uphold such perfect-at-everything image, I ended up not knowing what my heart truly wanted at all. Many of my boyfriends pressured me tremendously to be what they wanted me to be.
I came across this beautiful video story of birds on Facebook. (I just posted it)
It goes something like this:
A crow lived in the forest and was absolutely satisfied with life.
But one day, he saw a swan.
“This swan is so white and I am so black,” the crow thought. “This swan must be the happiest bird in the world!” He expressed his thoughts to the swan.”
“Actually,” the swan replied, “I was feeling that I was the happiest bird around until I saw a parrot, which has two colors. I now think the parrot is the happier bird in creation.”
The crow then approached the parrot.
The parrot explained, “I lived a very happy life, until I saw a peacock. I have only two colors but the peacock has multiple colors!”
The crow then visited a peacock in the zoo and saw that hundreds of people had gathered to see him.
After the people left, the crow approached the peacock.
“Dear peacock, you are so beautiful. Everyday, thousands of people come to see you. When people see me, they immediately shoo me away. I think you are the happiest bird on the planet!”
The peacock replied, “I always thought that I was the most beautiful and happy bird on the planet. But because of my beauty, I am entrapped in this zoo. I have examined the zoo very carefully, and I realized that the crow is the only bird not kept in the cage. So, for the past few days, I have been thinking that if I were a crow, I would happily roam everywhere.“
That’s our problem too.
We make unnecessary comparison with others and become sad.
We don’t value what we have.
This leads to the vicious cycle of unhappiness.
Value the things that you have.
Learn the secret of being happy and discard the comparison which leads only to unhappiness.
It brought my back to this emotion I felt when I was in ninth grade. We were all sitting in science class, and it bored the heck out of me. And I remember two taiwanese boys sitting behind me – both math and science geniuses, and I remembering feeling just… inadequate.
Here is Tida, so outspoken, so loud, so artistic… she sings, she paints, she cooks, and so she is this popular girl who sucks at math.
I remember getting straight A’s, a GPA of 3.69. And I thought to myself how it wasn’t a 3.94 because I got a D+ for math. Not good enough.
Useless. What good is it to speak good english and paint so well? You are not nearly as smart as you think you are.
Where did that voice come from?
It came from within my own thoughts! How our ‘desires’ trap us in such negativity!
After reading that bird story, I realized, if only I respected and appreciated myself for my talents, for just being me, I would go a long long way. Self-belief goes a long long way.
If I had respected my skills, others would have too. And if I didn’t beat up myself so much about sucking at math, which is no biggie at all since I don’t plan to work in that field anyway, my projection of ‘stupid Tida’ probably wouldn’t attract people into thinking that I am ‘stupid Tida’ either.
This conflicts within myself made me stress tremendously about what my friends think of me too. And again, I realize, if I were just me, not the smart me, the funny me, or the pretty me, just me, I wouldn’t be so miserable. I wouldn’t be so damn stressed out about life.
So. Dearest people…
Allow yourself to come forward today. Allow yourself to learn more today. And set yourself free from condemning yourself with your own self-criticizing thoughts. And I’ll do the same.
Two brains are better than one. Two hearts are especially better than one.
Lots of love to all of you. Om