For so much of my life I wanted to fit in, to belong. I wanted to be liked, as though being liked was a direct reflection of my worth. Because I moved around so often and continuously had to adapt to new surroundings, life had taught me to be a chameleon. But through this defence mechanism I hid who I was, ashamed to be different, fearful of not being liked, unaware that true belonging can only come from being true to yourself.
Inevitably bits and pieces of me would start to shine through, and if they were met with distaste I’d automatically resent myself. It took me a very long time to know what self love looked and felt like.
Ive lost friends I cared about along the way. Relationships that weren’t right to begin with ended. It hurt. I hurt. But I look at the people in my life now – a much, much smaller collection – and it makes sense to me. I can finally be myself, without shame or hiding. Without fear of losing them for being who I am. I am far from perfect, I often make mistakes, my behaviour isn’t always how I’d wish it to be. But this is me, and I now recognise that acceptance has to start with me.
Not compromising who we are for the sake of others is hard. We want to please, to be liked, to be accepted. We say yes when perhaps we should be saying no. We give more importance to the time of others than to our own. We feel shame and self hate when who we are clashes with what we see in those we admire.
If any of this resonates with you, take a moment to reflect on where in your life you are compromising who you are for the sake of others and in what small ways can you start to change that? True belonging only happens when you love and accept yourself – and sometimes that means putting yourself first.