As a coach, entrepreneur, teacher, healer, and wellness professional, I feel like it is my duty to walk my talk and step out of my comfort zone every single day. After all, I want people to share their feelings, speak up in class, twerk, do burpees, look at their lives, and be vulnerable. As the saying goes, life begins outside of your comfort zone.
Last February, it was time to revisit something I have avoided for years – the arts. I decided to audition for West Side Story with a local theater company. It was a standard audition process. I had to sing a song, perform a monologue, bring my head shot and resume. The thought of it made me want to puke out of nervousness, feeling inadequate, out of shape, and fear of failure. But I showed up, performed (with lots of pre-coaching from my friends and family), and even had fun. The audition experience was empowering. The experience was for me and only me. The rest was out of my hands.
I grew up dancing, performing in musical theater productions, and playing piano. However, when I was 19-years-old, I walked away from all of it. There were numerous reasons why I stepped away; but in short, it no longer brought me joy. The arts exacerbated my perfectionistic tendencies of never feeling like I’m good enough. I always compared myself to others. Plus, the constant criticism (both internal and external) began to wear on me. I began to shy away from artistic experiences that might result in rejection. I believed I could arrange my life to avoid rejection and criticism.
Well perfectionism, comparison, criticism, and rejection showed up everywhere in my life – relationships, professional endeavors, creative opportunities, intellectual pursuits, and personal interactions. Although I left the arts behind, the reasons that I left followed me. The audition experience made me think about the things I missed out on in life to avoid being criticized, rejected, appearing to be stupid, too much, too old, too young, too inexperienced, etcetera, etcetera. I was trying to hide from life!
And Then Came Self-Acceptance
I have become a student and teacher of self-acceptance. What if we could all live life through the lens of self-acceptance? Feeling what it’s like to be enough.
Experiencing and witnessing the freedom of self-acceptance is the first step to living life to the fullest. It gives us permission, courage, and compassion. Self-acceptance gives us bravery to begin looking at, learn how to, and be who we are are instead of trying to please others.
Not only does self-acceptance give us permission to try something new or be a novice - it gifts us the bravery to say “no,” say “yes,” say “it’s out of my hands,” “I’m enough,” or “I’m worthy.”
Self-acceptance can give us the courage to try love again, to let go of things that are no longer serving us. It can give us the confidence to take risks, be creative, and to play. Self-acceptance gives us assurance that we can handle disappointments. It cracks open our hearts and gives us the ability to love and be loved. It gives us the ability and compassion share the human experience with each other.
What steps can you make towards self-acceptance today? Maybe it’s forgiving yourself, giving yourself permission to grieve your losses. It could be meditating and seeing what comes up. Or, maybe reaching out for help. Perhaps it’s looking through the lens of gratitude, or simply saying, “I’m enough.” Accepting, even loving yourself for exactly who you are.