1_Accepting Who You Are_o5

Discovering that as we come to value our own ways of being, no one else has much trouble with these ways. 

Accepting Who You Are

When you can let your self really accept who and how you are…
No one else will have much problem with it.
Practice letting your self just be!

The neighborhood children my age (7, 8, 9) played together: either active, physical outdoor games or indoor games of dolls-and-house. I, on the other hand, spent much of my childhood alone. I'd curl up in a fan-back chair in our living room reading fairytales and myths, fantasizing, writing poems or stories and drawing pictures. When I wasn't in the gold chair, I was in the children's section of the public library sitting on the floor and reading in the fairytale, myths and legends section. On rare occasions, I'd be on the front stoop stairs at our apartment building playing school with the younger children in our building (and always being the teacher).

My Aunt Toby, a secretary and office manager in a small legal firm, brought me regular gifts of small and medium white pads, index cards, pink phone message pads, yellow lined legal pads, Ticonderoga pencils and wheel-shaped typewriter erasers with green bristles attached to brush away the eraser shavings. My grandpa contributed small and large cigar boxes in which I could cache all but the big legal pads. All these sensuous treasures and my Crayola crayons were neatly arranged on the bottom shelf of a glass-doored bookcase right next to my special chair in our living room. It was a rich universe in which I found much delight.

Sometime around the third or fourth grade, my (often critical, judgmental) Grandma Posin, who'd been visiting with us said to me, "What's wrong with you? Why don't the other children want to play with you?" I remember being startled and confused by her question. I'd never been particularly interested in playing with the other children. It hadn't, till then, occurred to me to think that that was either odd or something wrong with/about me. Nor had it occurred to me to think that they didn't want to play with me. I don't remember ever thinking about how I spent my time at all: I just did what I pleased, enjoying my self – mostly with my self.

My grandmother's comment triggered a season in my life of moving from inside to outside eyes, of beginning to look questioningly at my place among my peers. My first conscious memory of feeling different was in the fourth grade. At the wall-length coat closet, listening to classmates joking, chattering and laughing with each other, I realized I hadn't a clue about what was so funny or of how to participate in their easy chatter. They seemed to inhabit a world about which I knew nothing.

In the years of my feeling uneasy about my way of being, I would sometimes try to pass, to act like others of my cohort. It was very difficult. By trying to be other than how I was, I was thrown off-center, unmoored from my own foundation.  And, I had no inner compass to guide me into their sort of normalcy. I felt confused and disoriented.

The seeming impossibility for me to pass as normal left me with no choice but to follow my own meandering path. I turned back to my inner world: reading books, writing, daydreaming and, in the summers at rented bungalows in the Catskill Mountains of New York, creating fantasies in the woods. My inwardness, my fascination with introspection and reflection grew me in ways that continued to move me further and further away from the world of my age peers.

After the loss-of-innocence about my way of being I found that, by judging the ways of my peers as inferior to my own, I could regain a feeling of okay-ness about my choices. It wasn't until years later that I was able to give up the inferior-superior frame and still feel okay about my own different ways of being. (See Judging Difference for more of that part of the story.)

Over the years of growing into adulthood, I did learn to function more adequately in the world of interpersonal connections. I looked to find others with whom I could connect in a deep, intimate way. Inevitably, these would be people who were also reflective, with a decidedly inward focus.

The easy flow of casual social chat has remained forever beyond my reach (and, truly, beyond my interest). Having more than one or two people in my home at one time, attending parties or social gatherings and participating in groups of any sort, all continue – for the most part – to be unappealing prospects. Since any of these occasions require more effort than I would choose for my self, I rarely consider any of them.

My delight in the voluptuousness of solitude with its timeless drifting and my joy in the lushness of sharing intimately with just one person at a time have been at the center of my life all of my life. It doesn't seem to matter whether this way of being comes from my damage – my unhealed woundedness – or from my wholeness. It's just what's so for me. The longer I live, the more at peace I am with this different way that I am. I notice that as I've grown more accepting about this aspect of me, others in my life seem to struggle less with it. Friends no longer try to coax or cajole me into group gatherings.  Instead, they call to tell me of their celebrations-to-be "so that you can be here with us in spirit."

Directly naming how I am, without defense or justification seems, in fact, to work as well with just about anyone with whom I deal. Over and over again, as I take the risk of being my self, of simply speaking what's so for me – as if I believe it's perfectly okay with me to be as I am – people seem to get it.  If they criticize at all, my willingness to acknowledge that this is just how I am (rather than to defend or to counter-argue) usually ends the discussion.

Choosing to see our way of being as okay with us (since it's the only way we're able to be in the moment) allows us to discover an amazing truth.  When we accept and feel okay about how we are, there is no Velcro on us to attract others' judgments about how we are.

Consider letting your self just be exactly as you are, right now – as if it's okay with you to be your very own unfinished work-in-progress self.