Permission To Be You
By Karen Ballum on March 26, 2013
The road to self-acceptance can be a rocky one with lots of twists and turns. When I think back to some of the paths I attempted as a teen I kind of cringe. In her memoir, Let's Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson got some help on that path thanks to her father, a turkey named Jenkins, and an incident in the public school library.
"Because it was the first time in my life that I gave myself permission to be me. I was still shy and still self-conscious and terrified of people, but Jenkins had essentially freed me of the bonds of having to try to fit in. It was a lesson I should have been happy to learn at such a young age, if it weren't for the fact that it was a teaching moment centering on a public turkey attack witnessed by all of the same kids I would graduate from high school with." Pages 52-53
Jenny is who she is. She had a fondness for quirky antique taxidermy. She hides in bathrooms. She wears confidence wigs and red dresses. She has anxiety and arthritis. She buys large metal chickens. She shows us both her highlight reel and her imperfections and makes us laugh and cry, quite frequently in the same post or chapter.
Self-acceptance doesn't mean that it's always easy. Sometimes being who you are feels really difficult. While it's not that I really try to fit in, there are some days I'm exceptionally aware of all the ways I don't. When you put me in a room full of strangers or even casual acquaintances I become very much like Jenny describes above -- shy, self-conscious and terrified of people. After those experiences it's a relief to get back home where I can unapologetically me. Well, mostly unapologetically me. There are times when being me means I am a bit of a jerkface and I do end up apologizing to my husband for that.
Yet more and more I am giving myself permission to be me in social situations. I didn't have a Jenkins moment. I'm simply more comfortable being me in my 30s than I was in my 20s and I'm sure I'm going to feel even better about myself in my 40s. I've mostly learned to accept that who I am is just fine, at least when I'm not being a jerkface.
Do you give yourself permission to just be you?
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