The struggle of gaining acceptance has always been something that has plagued me. I was always worried about what other people thought about me, or didn’t think about me. I was continuously worried about gaining the approval of everyone around me, specifically when it came to relationships. I always found myself bending my values and allowing my boundaries to be trampled all over, just so some guy would half-heartedly like me. I found myself people pleasing my way through life, which in turn left me in some heart breaking and uncomfortable situations. I find myself looking back to 6 months ago, a year ago, and even multiple years ago and genuinely wish I could have saved myself from all the pain and suffering I endured. Some of it was self inflicted, some of it was at the hands of others. But no matter the source, a lot of heartbreak could have been avoided if I could just give myself some advice about the cold hard facts of life. Acceptance isn’t everything.
The sad thing is that younger me probably would not have taken those words of advice to heart. I wish I could have crammed it into my stubborn head that you’re not always going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and that is okay! I see so many girls who are enduring the pain that I put myself through, just to feel loved and accepted. It honestly breaks my heart to see girls not being true to themselves just to gain some boys acceptance. I know all to well the pain of heartbreak all because you want to be wanted… but what I have learned is that all of that suffering can be avoided if you just take a minute to step back, reassess, and realize that the right people are going to love you and fit perfectly into your life without having to force it.
“Don’t chase people, chase yourself. Continue to always strive to grow emotionally and spiritually. The right people will fall in line.”
I know for me, I always thought I had this thing called life figured out. Anyone that knew me around that time knows that my life motto was “I do what I want.” My parents knew nothing, my friends knew nothing, and I spent every waking moment trying to control every single aspect of my life to fit into this grand idea I had of how my life was supposed to turn out. I searched for acceptance from boys, from family members, and from friends to gain the validation that I was on the right path. College, marriage, kids… that’s what I based my value on. If I didn’t have some type of relationship I found myself feeling worthless and during these difficult times my self esteem came to an all-time low. I continuously struggled to gain acceptance and I based my worth on if I was in a relationship or not. I’d assess my happiness based on if I had a guy in my life. Even if it was clear to me and everyone around me that he did not fit, at least I had someone. I would allow my loneliness to dictate my mood, and even worse I would let the guy who so clearly did not belong influence my views. But at that point I figured that a bad relationship was better than no relationship. Even if I was in a relationship that was not good for me emotionally, I would stay because it was better than being alone. I would struggle to conform to be someone he wanted me to be, just to say I had a relationship. I would do anything to gain acceptance, and it started to control my life.
I think this is a struggle that so many women deal with. We have been brought up in a society where being single is sometimes looked down upon. People feel sorry for women that are in their 30’s and single. It used to be the norm to just get married and have kids, but times are evolving and so should our mentalities about being single. Your life doesn’t start until you start a family or have found the man you want to spend the rest of your life with. Your life starts when you start to accept that these are the cards you were dealt and its time to make the best of them. I think one of the major problems we deal with in society is that so many girls feel the pressure that they have to act a certain way, look a certain way, or have a certain mind set to be good enough and worthy enough for a relationship. Social media has become such a strong influencing force that as soon as you get one new trend down, a new one is already popping up making you feel like you’re always one step behind. So many girls are influenced by celebrities and people in the media. They are the ones who set the standards for how to act and how to look. But the truth is that these standards are unrealistic and nearly impossible to live up to. Self worth when you’re at a young age is already hard enough to attain and in this time and age I believe self worth is at an all-time low. I constantly find myself looking back at my past and cringing in some situations I think about. I want to go back and tell myself to stop stressing, stop worrying, stop caring what others think and just do you.
So, this week I asked some of my closest friends if they could go back and give themselves at a younger age some words of about relationships what would it be? These are the answers I received…
“I would say to quit worrying and putting so much pressure on myself. I didn’t take the opportunity to enjoy that season in my life because I was more concerned about finding a man over finding myself. My self esteem was at an all-time low because of it. I also wish I would have just put it all into God’s hands.”
“Probably to just be open to meeting new guys and have them be friends first. You don’t always have to be on the prowl for a boyfriend. I think if I would have just taken the time to actually just hang out and really get to know certain guys first, I never would have taken certain relationships to the next level. I would have realized that I had nothing in common with the guy in the first place and nothing romantic would have ever come from it. If nothing did then at least you have the bonus of a new friend!”
“Don’t rush. Don’t worry about finding a boyfriend. The right one will come to you and in the mean time take the time to enjoy the single life while you can. Also listen to your friends and family. They have your best interests at heart and can always see past the bullsh*t.”
“Be patient. Don’t worry so much about finding someone when you’re young. Be more worried about experiencing life on your own and finding out who you truly want to be. Give yourself that time to go to school and travel the world, all without the stress of finding a relationship. Don’t be afraid to express how you feel about someone. The worst they can say is they don’t have the same feelings and then you’ll save yourself heartbreak by not wasting time wondering.”
“Things happen for a reason and sometimes you have to endure the bad to get to the good. Never regret a dating situation because it forms you into being a better person. Learn from your mistakes. It will help you figure out what you like and what you don’t. Sometimes you have to go through some sh*tty relationships before you find the right one. But always love yourself and work to build that confidence in yourself. If you’re not confident, or have self love, any relationship is likely not going to work very well.”
“I’ve always had issues with trust due to my parent’s problems. I always thought that not trusting someone and being vulnerable would be less heart ache if I was ever cheated on. So, I would tell my younger self to let go of that fear because if you don’t trust your significant other, chances are you’re only pushing them away. Its okay to be vulnerable and let people in. The right person won’t hurt you.”
“Don’t push too hard for someone when it works it work, when it doesn’t it doesn’t. They aren’t the right one so just let it go and move on.”
The period in life where you are trying to figure out who you are and what you want to accomplish with your life can be daunting, frustrating even. Some days you feel so lost, and some days you feel like you’re on top of the world. Loneliness, low self esteem, and low self worth are something we all deal with at some time or another. They can be unfortunate factors of life that drive you into situations that weren’t necessarily the best thing for you. They can make you feel like you have to be a certain person to be loved. They can make you search for your validation in men, and they can keep you in relationships long past their expiration dates. I found that I was constantly trying to people please my way through life and conform to fit a certain mold just to gain acceptance. I would not only deal with toxic relationships longer than I should have, but I would also deal with toxic friendships past their expiration date because I was terrified to lose someone. Losing someone meant to me that I was no longer good enough for them, and that was something my broken ego could not handle. I would give in to doing things for people that I loathed doing, and would partake in activities that I new were wrong, all to gain that acceptance. The worst thing I ever did to myself was conforming to be what I thought I had to be to get a guy to like me. To allow my values to be skewed, boundaries to be crossed, and ultimately hide who I truly was all to gain the acceptance of someone who didn’t really care enough to really care.
Some of the closest people in my life would tell me to just focus on myself, love myself, and the rest will all fall into place. I really do wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self to just enjoy the ride, instead of constantly struggling to find a man. When the time is right, the right one will come.
Even when I started writing this blog, I was worried about what people would think. What would my exes think? What would their friends and families think? I found myself constantly worrying about losing people in my life because I was doing something different. Sure, some people have made comments, some people have criticized what I am doing. But ultimately it has shown me who are the people who will stand beside me and belong in my life. When you stop forcing relationships, and just worry about yourself you will find that life gets a whole lot easier.
Ultimately, I found that I needed to surrender myself to God. I gave myself fully into his plan and the stress of always having to worry about what other people thought about me has faded away. By learning that He has a plan and submitting myself to that plan rather than by controlling everything around me, I have slowly started to figure out who I am, what I want, and how I expect to be treated. I no longer search for the acceptance of others. So take the advice of people who love you, take the advice of everyone around you who only wants to see you succeed in life. Stop worrying about the opinions of others, or if some boy that’s not worth your time likes you. The right person will come in to your life at the right time. If they are apart of God’s plan for your life, they will be there.