Somewhere on the world wide web I heard some version of this idea: It’s more acceptable to hate yourself than it is to love yourself. That is so sickeningly true, right? It may be something that ignites a passionate response or maybe it only awakens a small, almost unnoticeable, ache in its truth. Either way, I can’t think of many who would argue that it’s an untrue statement. When I initially read it, I had the fleeting thought of sadness. I only briefly noticed the alarms sounding in my head signaling that this is very very wrong, but quickly moved on. I wish I could say that this infuriated me; that it dropped bombs destroying fallacies in my perspective, but it didn’t, it planted seeds instead.   

They went ahead of me, burying themselves in my future footsteps when the passionate response would be better attended to. Every now and then I come across what are now these mighty, towering trees of thought that have roots that go much deeper than a simple one-time explosion ever could. They provide me with the feeling of life in understanding rather than death by enlightenment. 

This opt-in epidemic is so deadly. I mean, we choose to subscribe to this self-view to fit in. Let’s not pretend it’s not tempting. Self-depreciating memes, jokes and wit; yes, I find them hilarious and even identify sometimes. But at its core, it’s giving you an ultimatum, a choice: you or us. And because we’re humans who are designed to crave belonging, we often choose the ‘us’ no matter how depraved the ‘us’ is. 

A few weeks ago a friend paid me a compliment that I’ve gotten a several times over the course of my life and though I’ve always known it’s been a positive statement, I never quite understood why or what these people were observing that would compel them to address it. They’d said some variation of: you are so you. That though I may have some characteristics like someone else, I am completely and only me. Again, I’ve never disliked hearing it, I just didn’t understand. 

The first time I fell in (grownup) love I knew something was different. That it wasn’t just infatuation or immaturity, because I realized that this person made me feel good about being who I was. I didn’t realize it right away, but I didn’t have to ease him into the more… shall we say “unique” aspects of who I was. I kinda just was. Without ever making it a goal to do so, I started to be wholly myself, and not just the parts that would most complement my current surroundings. It wasn’t that I’d changed or even necessarily became a better version of myself, I just stopped not being me. I hate to say that I was ever pretending to be someone else. I think it’s better to say that I used to pick and choose what pieces of the pie to serve up at any given point. 

That relationship is in the past, but those effects are still in full swing, even when I don’t realize it. It’s obviously a good thing because others have taken to it. I’m not putting on a show or even trying to be a role model (don’t even get me started on that). I’m trying to find my place just like everybody else, preferably while I still have a lot of life left to live it. The only difference is that I’m no longer trying to fake it till I make it. Sure, it’s good advice in some cases, but maybe not so much as an overall life motto. It’s the faking it that’s gotten us where we are now… or maybe it’s the faking that we’ve made it? I don’t know, but I do know that choosing you over us in this case IS the right choice and if we can do that right, maybe it brings about the ‘us’ that we need.