Acceptance is the only real forgiveness.
Once we recognize this what follows is groundbreaking. If you think about it, to forgive someone or yourself authentically is to accept them or you. Life offers us a myriad of struggles, and grey skies often easy to get lost in and caught up in a mental prison of blame. We are quick to point fingers at whatever happens to us and look for scapegoats to better identify our problems with. Detrimental to our character we often point the finger at ourselves. We take the heaviest burden and carry it around from moment to moment.
What happens when instead of placing blame, we accept?
Take whatever negative outcome happens and accept it. Know this is a part of your story but isn’t your story. You are not your struggles but struggles happen to each of us as a tool to teach us how to accept. It seems easiest to take the bad and paint a picture of our lives that reflect this. If we were to accept whatever comes within the moment, then naturally we’d feel lighter and better with what comes our way.
So how do we accept ourselves and our life as it unfolds?
One way is to see everything as a teacher. When something happens to you, ask what is this trying to show me? Look past the onslaught of thoughts and find what that answer might be. Then just accept it. Seems easier said than done but it isn’t. It really is that simple. To accept something is to let it go. It will all come out in life’s watch anyway.
At 19 I dropped out of college, I knew in my heart of hearts that furthering my education wasn’t for me. That’s not to knock those who choose to further their education, I just realized through uncomfortable circumstances that this path wasn’t my only option. Following telling my parents this, I received a lot of negative criticism from my family and friends. This obviously didn’t make my situation any easier for me. I was conflicted with everyone’s ideas of how my life should be as well as with my own. Here was something I thought I should do for myself and was met with opposing beliefs. For a while between the ages of 20-21 I tried to subscribe to what those around me wished me to do. I tried to go to a community college to please my family and friends and after one week realized I was forcing myself into something I had no interest in. Then I decided to learn a trade, I was enrolled in beauty school to learn makeup and thought to myself, “well this isn’t half bad”. I had early success right before I graduated beauty school and got a job doing makeup at a successful salon. Two months went by and each day I had to go there I felt resentment growing in my gut. Truthfully, still this wasn’t what I wanted to do. I was deeply unhappy and blaming my life’s shortcomings on everyone around me and myself. I felt lost with no direction at all. I quit the salon and in my struggle and strife, something magical happened.
What occurred next changed my life forever. Without which I wouldn’t be writing this now. I was sitting alone in my room thinking about what I wanted in life. I realized in a moment between my stress that I just wanted to be creative and inspire myself and others to be themselves. Mostly because that’s what I was avoiding and having trouble accepting. I took to my journal and wrote about some powerful experiences I had while in college and I realized something, I had a passion for showing others that it was okay to be them in a world that taught them to be anything but. But what about taking my own medicine?
Through my own experience, I was always able to talk to someone or listen to them and guide them creatively into the solitude of themselves and help them to recognize what it is their heart desired. But how could I do this more effectively, than just one on one? How could I help the most people directly?
That’s when I sat down with paper and pen and created this very movement, The Beautiful Project. After I had an outline of how The Beautiful Project would help inspire people to be themselves, I set out to gather artists and find a venue prematurely to host the first ever Beautiful Project. I had set up a call to artists to meet me somewhere to discuss my vision. What I found when I arrived late to my own meeting, was a handful of people that believed in my mission as their own and were ready to work.
I discovered a group of people who readily accepted themselves and each other, while I was still trying to figure out how to do so. With success we put on two beautiful projects only a month apart. The acceptance and compassion after each performance radiated through the atmosphere and left me feeling empowered.
Yet I still didn’t fully accept myself. It wasn’t till after one of our most monumental assemblies at my alumni , Hackettstown High School, that I realized what I had created. Here I was inspiring an auditorium full of students and staff on kindness and compassion and acceptance when I had an epiphany.
If I didn’t drop out of three different schools, if I never struggled through the dark wondering what my life would be, I never would’ve had the wisdom to share with others what I was seeking myself, radical acceptance. I saw each of my life’s moments perfectly related to the next. I finally accepted what my life had been trying to show me in each struggle.
Still till this day, as I write this now, I understand how each moment leads to the next and reveals something far more great than whatever tribulations are thrown at us. Forgiving yourself and others and letting it all go, throwing it up to the deeper lesson is the first step to complete acceptance.
I implore you, to look at what life offers in each moment, good or bad and just let it go. Try the command let it go, or let it be if you’re having trouble coming to terms on your own. Your intention to let it go and accept is far more powerful than you think.
In today’s climate, we have to accept ourselves as we are. We have to look at what is happening to and around us and just let it be. Simply, there’s nothing else to do. We cannot move forward without first accepting, giving thanks and forgiving. So I leave you with a phrase I use as a mantra and find myself repeating always.
Accept yourself before you wreck yourself. And so it is.