It’s Not The World’s Job to Accept You. It’s Yours.

If you live for people’s acceptance, you will die from their rejection. ~ Lecrae

On a recent walk, I was thinking about writing, Medium and “Stats,” those handy markers to measure how well our stories are doing. Writing for me has been a journey of discovery. Last year, when I began writing and posting, I remember holding my breath, especially when I hit “publish.” I don’t know what I thought would happen, but I did notice with some surprise that, after publishing, I was still breathing, still in the room. Nothing essential had changed. Or had it?

It is through writing that I have discovered a hidden treasure — myself. But it has not been without risks. Writing has forced me out of hiding and into the world to be seen. It has pushed me out of my comfort zone by exposing my writing to opinions and judgements that are positive and negative. It has forced me to look at myself in a different way and from a different vantage point.

Growth can be uncomfortable, and, as Sonia Choquette, author and spiritual teacher, has said repeatedly: we don’t grow in our comfort zones.

I think to some degree we all suffer from this collective fear of not being accepted. The fear creates an underlying anxiety in us all. Our world is based on external measuring tools, ones we use to determine if we are successful or not, whether we have “hit the mark,” or “made the grade.” The constant evaluation process begins early on in school and follows us throughout our lives. For some, this is invigorating; for many, it is intimidating. We are bombarded by advertising that tells us if we dress a certain way or have certain things, we will be counted as popular and cool and in vogue — in other words, we will finally belong.

The trouble is, we have to keep reaching for those scores and marks to validate our achievements. It is a never-ending Pac-Man game we are in. As soon as one achievement is acknowledged, it gets gobbled up and evaporates, and we reach for the next, hopefully, higher one.

Who created this system anyway? In reaching for something outside of ourselves to determine if we are okay, we miss the most important relationship we could have — the one with ourselves. If we drop our need to satisfy the hungry beast of outside approval, we find that we are the only one in the room who really cares. And once we accept ourselves, we don’t need another to sing our praises, because we sing with our own voice — the only one that mattered in the first place.