Thought bubbles: I am not this person: am I this person?

I am not this person.

Am I this person?

How was I this person?

Questions reeling through my mind the other day, after a bad night. After a moment when I messed up. When my ugly sides came out. Reared their damaged heads, demanded to be seen, and heard. Maybe you haven’t seen this side of me, but trust me, it’s there, and it’s very real. And after those moments when I’ve embarrassed myself, hurt people I love, was overly obnoxious for no apparent reason, whatever the transgression was, I wonder just what exactly got into me, or what it was that was inside of me that just had to get out.

I feel ashamed, and I start grasping, start questioning. Am I these ugly sides of myself? Or is it just that we all have this ugliness within us and we have a choice about whether we show it or not? Am I defined by the worst of me or the best? Or by all and everything in-between? Essentially: how do I reconcile these jagged parts with the smoother ones? How do I accept all the different sides of myself?

Somehow even this line of inquiry feels narcissistic on some level. So, you fucked up. Make amends and move on. Stop trying to put everything in a tidy box, to smooth over what cannot be smoothed out. But I also know that these questions prod at something deeper, something I’ve been thinking more about these days with the way we use social media to always highlight the bright and shiny and with the way mental health issues are starting to be discussed more and more openly. It’s not a smoothing over but an effort to look these things in the eye. To bring these discussions about our unsavory sides to the fore. Not to diminish our actions or absolve ourselves, but to make people more accepting of their own humanity. Or at least that’s how I see it now, and that’s why I’m here writing these words.

This shift to a wider perspective was brought on by a recent episode of the What’s Underneath StyleLikeU podcast where they interviewed the remarkably beautiful and brave, Riya Hamid. In it, she was extremely open and vulnerable about her struggle with mental illness and depression, and when they asked her; “What does self-acceptance mean to you?” She replied;

“Self-acceptance to me means recognizing your duality as a human being and accepting the grimy bits as well as the good bits and realizing they both make up who you are, and just to be more forgiving when you do fuck up.”

It’s something that’s easier said than done, but I think making an effort is key. Because as Riya put it, and how I like to see it, is that we’re not only one thing or one part of ourselves. We all have our demons and we can learn to manage them or release them, but they will probably always be there for us to deal with somewhere within. So when I ask; am I this person? The answer is yes. Fortunately and unfortunately, I am. And in recognizing that, I’m freeing myself of the burden of perfection and am getting closer to the parts I’m prouder of. I’m not denying what’s there but learning to open myself to what it is and listen to what it’s saying. In yoga terms, I’m sending light to the areas that have been shrouded in darkness. The parts that probably came out in such a distasteful way because for too long they’ve been pushed down and were allowed to feed in that place, and in their own broken way, were trying to find a way out. Now I see that simply seeing and saying this can be part of the way out, a way forward. A way of recognizing and thereby freeing myself to work on the ugly bits while seeing how they are only one part of a connected whole.

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