The idea of acceptance changes throughout life; in elementary school I would’ve said acceptance means being included and embraced by the popular crowd, but now that I’m a college student, it means something completely different. It means embracing who I am on the inside and out, and not trying to change it based on other people’s opinions. It means loving myself for who I am and being confident with the person I’ve become.
I was the typical elementary school kid, concerned only about brand names and constantly disappointed when my mother was unable to buy what I asked for. I understood that it was too costly, but the value of the dollar was beyond my capacity for understanding. Brand names represented an automatic boost up the ladder of popularity, a chance to sit with others who bore the same brands. My choice of style was influenced by everyone around me; if they didn’t care about a label, I didn’t either. If the name had not existed, neither would have my interest.
Middle school brought the age of awkwardness; rather than accept myself and my body for all of its perfections and imperfections, I simply hated it. All the other girls were developing busts; I was still flat- chested, they were stretching in height; I remained my stumpy, chubby self. I was not comfortable with myself and would go above and beyond to hide it, to be considered normal. These few years defined for me what popularity meant and how the opinions of some of your peers can affect how you view yourself. They taught me that not having self respect can negatively impact how you carry yourself and how others see you.
High school introduced more people to my pool of peers, my group of friends morphed, and I found myself more comfortable being myself around the people who began to surround me. We accepted each other for who he or she was, which taught each of us to do the same for his or herself. I found it easier to be myself and not just what others want me to be. I have learned to accept and embrace that I will never be five- foot- nine and a size zero, that I will never be anything other than pale as paper, and that I may never have a disposable income like many of my peers from high school. It is this self acceptance that has helped me to form friendships based in trust, not only in others but also in myself.
I started off college similarly; meeting people and forming friendships by simply being myself. I have learned to embrace who I am and as a consequence have formed invaluable lifelong relationships with people who I can just be myself around. I have accepted that I’m not the smartest kid, nor am I the prettiest. I may never have hair that will lay straight or a perfectly shaped nose, but I’m okay with that. Given the chance to change my body, I would not do it; I’ve arrived at the point where I realize my imperfections need to be embraced; they are not something to lose sleep over. I may not be the college kid wearing all the designer clothes, or any designer clothes; clothes are never going to fix the imperfections in one’s life. I’d rather put that money towards education, which is one of the few things about oneself that can be improved. I have realized that the clothes do not make the person look good; the person makes the clothes look good. I like who I’ve become; I love volunteering and working with kids, have embraced the real me and am truly happy with my life.