Writing Excersise: How I unknowingly inspired someone else to be themselves
For a large portion of my life, I feel as if I fell into a trap that most young adults do. A cycle of running away from who I really was, a never ending race of denying my self the best gift anyone can give themselves; Self acceptance. I didn’t accept myself, because to do so would be looked down on, so I hid. All too often, we conform and mold ourselves into who society, or our friends, or even family tell us who we should be. What we should wear, the “cool” things to like, the right things to say. I always felt the need to impress other people so that I could win their attention and praise, as if that was something to truly strive for. I took any opinion another could have of me, let it consume me, and that became the opinion I had of myself. I’d even make sure to dress up to class all the time instead of study, because I felt like as long as people thought that I looked nice, that was all that could possibly matter.
Until one day, I looked at myself and asked, “Why are you working so hard at something that isn’t real, for people who don’t want to be around you unless you’re like them?” It was through this revelation that I dared to do something I had never done in my life, and that was to genuinely not care what people thought about me anymore. This meant that I started wearing what I wanted to, doing things that I felt were right even if they weren’t the popular thing to do, and embracing the inner part of me that I had been so desperately trying to put on the backburner for so many years.
I usually don’t get too down on myself anymore, but when I hear something negative about me, it does hit me hard. What happened to me shortly after I heard something false and down putting about myself, was one of those rare and unexpected acts of kindness from someone I hardly knew. My phone buzzed and I got a text message from an acquaintance who followed me on many forms of social media. On my social media apps, I have no filter and speak my mind. I do this because I want people to see me. The real me, not who I pretend to portray. As I looked down at my phone and read what this old friend had to say, I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude. This friend told me that they just were thinking about me and thought it was important that I know how much I inspired them to be themselves. Just like me for so many years of my adolescence, they too were bound by the fact that they felt like they couldn’t be themselves, out of fear of ridicule and disapproval. This struck me in such a way that I almost started to tear up. The same struggle I found myself lost in for what seemed like forever, I overcame. What’s better than that, someone noticed, and appreciated that I was being true to myself for the first time in my life. They thanked me, and told me that even though I may not think so, a lot of people see me in a very positive light, despite the people who might not feel the same way.
True, I didn’t do anything remarkably big like save this person from a burning building, but the point is, this small comment made to me, no matter how “big”, was significant. I am the opposite of perfect, I hold no pride in my heart. I don’t preach to anyone and I’m not trying to praise myself. But this one small thing I did (but didn’t mean to) is significant because I made a difference to someone else, and helped them take a step towards self love, and to me, that is something I will always take to heart and be proud of.