If we were to encounter a magic lantern in an enchanted wood that came with a directive that our 3 wishes had to be about self-improvement, most of us could easily come up with a few things right off the bat about ourselves that we’d like to change. We all have stuff that we have little to no ability to change about who we are, but we REALLY wish we could.
My longest running and most prevalent “something to change” would be the decreasing but still ongoing companion of Acne. I guess it makes some kind of sense that since I was into boys at an early age, that I would wind up developing early, too. And perhaps in an effort to teach me the graces of humility at an early age, accompanying my amply sized chest grew the red, swollen marks of acne. Through middle school, high school, and my two years of college, acne was a varying but constant presence, strewn plainly across my face for all to see and sometimes marvel at. It was my crippling weakness, my deflater of self-esteem, self-worth, and self-acceptance. And ultimately, by way of debilitating levels of agony and disappointment, my greatest teacher.
I firmly believe that every single excruciating thing that has ever happened to us has the potential to wake us up to something. Every experience has the capacity to be used for growth or deflation, depending on how we use it.
Just as every tool can be a weapon, so too can every weapon be a tool.
I used acne as a weapon against myself for a long, long time. But somewhere along the way – out of exasperation that nothing else was working, I suppose – I began to contemplate the merits of learning to accept this much-loathed part of myself. A part, despite all of my most valiant efforts, I was unable to change.
To see acne as a tool, instead of as a weapon, seems a trite thing to propose. Yet, it’s what I felt called to do, as a matter of self-preservation. It is a thing to adjust how we relate to some grand and seemingly catastrophic malady. And really, it’s how we relate to whatever it is that’s going on that matters – it’s all that matters.
While it’s still not ideal, acne no longer devastates me or ruins my self-image. It’s now just a little thing that happens.
Sometimes, too, we might experience getting tricked into thinking that we need to change something about ourselves, based on other people’s hangups or discomfort. Case in point: It’s been fairly recently that I’ve chosen to step fully into embracing my organizational talents and not dull my light in regards to what I have to offer in this capacity. For most of my life, I’ve tried to scale back my full potential when it comes to being well-organized, efficient, and highly capable in the realms of leadership and management roles, as these skill-sets tend to make other people feel slighted and inferior. But, as that is not my intention, nor is it an energy I foster, I’ve been practicing to not let other people’s thoughts/feelings/baggage hold me back from realizing my gifts and abilities.
In the same way that we would do well to understand that we are not unique, we would do well to know that we are entirely one of a kind. Both things are true. We are all the same and we are all different, too.
Be humble amid the grace of others but be confident and solid in your skin. Be not afraid to shine your light and open your heart but stay in tune with your motivations.
Boast not for all you do but let your life be shared. Revel not in your looks but delight in your presence.
Hold in high regard your own company but do not place it above anyone else’s.