On Self-Acceptance, Being Ridiculous, and Insane Amounts of Gratitude. (Or, You Guys! I Actually Met a Nice Boy!)

“To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow – this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert

Of all the things I could possibly be thankful for this year, acceptance is at the top of my list.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  I am not a perfect person. And I DO NOT have everything figured out.

Not even close.

Although, there was certainly a time in my life when I felt as though I had to pretend I had a handle on EVERYTHING and was perfectly put together and never, ever in need of outside assistance of any kind.

And acting like mistakes never happened was absolutely essential to my sense of self.

This past year, I’ve moved from a place of feeling compelled to have all the answers before doing anything, to accepting the fact that answers are often elusive and impossible to find, especially if you refuse to ever actually start anything on your way to uncovering them.

I have learned how to accept uncertainty.

Because guess what, guys? Uncertainty is effing ubiquitous.

Does this mean I’m always comfortable with the not-knowing-ness of things? Of course not. I’m someone who wants to BE IN CONTROL AT ALL TIMES.

It’s hilarious, actually. My need to be in control.

I used to avoid social engagements and making plans and going anywhere that felt at all unfamiliar because if I couldn’t control the circumstances completely, the chances that I would at some point appear not perfect or totally put together increased exponentially.

And this was, simply put, unacceptable.

Now, I’ve learned to appreciate how messy we are as human beings. All of us. Even me.

I now know that I can sometimes be as chaotic and confused as everyone else without it diminishing my worth as a person or defining who I am all the time.

And that actually, it’s kind of endearing. Yes, even on me.

This kind of self-acceptance has been made possible through a combination of intense, intentional, deeply personal work on my part and the presence of several incredible, non-judgmental, open-hearted people in my circle.

More than at any other time in my life, I am blessed now to be surrounded by friends and family members and professional colleagues who accept me wholly and completely and without question. People who see my messes in progress and love me in spite of — or, more often, because of — this chaos.

Which really isn’t even chaos at all. It’s figuring shit out.

And that always kind of looks messy and chaotic and not totally put together.

Also:  It can have moments of pure comedy if we allow ourselves to embrace the absurdity of it all once in a while.

The beauty of accepting yourself unconditionally and presenting an honest picture of who you are to the world around you is that you will meet more and more people who love this raw, unpolished, real version of you.

I promise.

Owning your confusion and admitting you’re a little messy reduces the charge of both things completely.

And it is just so immensely liberating. Seriously.

So, this Thanksgiving, I want to sincerely thank everyone in my life for loving me and accepting me and appreciating my ridiculousness.

I want to thank my friends for seeing my neuroses and then openly showing me theirs. And then having a good laugh with me and reminding me that we’re all a little crazy in our own ways and yet all still equally lovable.

And for accepting themselves completely, for being open and honest about who they are, for taking complete ownership over everything they do and say and think. For not apologizing for anything.

Because this? It gives me the strength to do the same.

I want to thank my parents for putting up with me for three decades and for offering me complete acceptance even when I do things that make them cringe or wonder where exactly they went wrong in raising me.

And for appreciating the differences between my sister and me, even though my sister gives them grandchildren and I give them, well, uncertainty sprinkled with hilarity and moments of overly intense introspection.

(You’re welcome, Mom and Dad.)

I want to thank my sister for so many things it’s difficult to keep track, not the least of which is gifting me an amazing nephew and two new nieces (twins!) and letting me hang out with them as much as I want.

And for loving me always and being my hero and calling me out on my bullshit on a regular basis, but with love and kindness mixed in. Because sometimes I need to be told I’m being an idiot, then handed an infant to hold as a way to soften the blow.

And I want to thank the wonderful man I recently met who seems to be fazed by nothing. And I mean NOTHING.

And while it’s only been a few weeks that I’ve known this guy, it gives me hope that I can create a romantic relationship in which I can show up in my entirety and be completely accepted. (And also laughed at and teased. Which, I have to admit, I love.)

All of this to say that I’m feeling extra thankful this year. For so many small, intangible things. But especially for the freedom to be myself, and to be accepted for the messy, sometimes strange, often frustrating, frequently contradictory, but ultimately lovely person I am.

I sincerely hope that on Thanksgiving this year, you are all surrounded by people you love who appreciate you in all of your idiosyncratic glory.

Because we all deserve this kind of love. The kind that looks directly at our imperfections and our oddities and our chaos, and then loves us even more because of them.