I’ve been taking Melody and Kathy’s Art School Sessions: Wings class and while there’s wonderful art instruction and great projects, what resonates with me the most, as is often the case with her classes, is Melody’s words. She has a discussion question/topic with each week’s lesson and these often open up worlds of questions and thoughts for me.
I was listening to this week’s topic this morning and I don’t want to give away class content (nor could I put it as eloquently as she does) but it’s generally about accepting yourself for who you naturally are. Not trying so hard to be something that you weren’t built to be. (This is not about not improving or learning but more about knowing the conditions under which you thrive naturally.)
And one of the things that struck me so hard while I listened to her was about how there are parts of me that I just resist or fight instead of accepting. And how if I were to accept myself wholly, I might thrive so much more. Not just be happy and content and feel whole but actually thrive in all areas of my life.
This led me to take a moment and think about what parts of myself I might be fighting. What am I resisting? What do I know to be true but insist shouldn’t be? Like I always hate it when people tell me I’m too emotional. I find that when I lean into that part of myself, I find a lot of empathy and caring and kindness. All of that comes from being “too emotional” and it’s when I give myself permission to be who I am (instead of scolding myself about how that’s not ok to be) that I feel peaceful and strong and able to really make a difference.
But there’s also something to be said for putting yourself in environments where who you are naturally is a good fit. For example, this emotional side of me coupled with the side of me who needs emotional connection and acknowledgement doesn’t really do well in male-dominated fields. I’ve worked on Wall Street and high tech. Neither of which are super conducive to being emotionally taken care of. Of course, I also have a technical, analytical, methodical side of me that does thrive in these situations. And the insecure part of me doesn’t do particularly well in female-dominated situations either.
So this is not to say that there’s this one right place for me. But it is to say that when instead of paying attention to all sides of myself and honoring them, I try to fight them, belittle them and deny them, I am not accepting the fact of who I am. Which makes it hard to honor that part of me. Hard to realize where I might thrive. Hard to realize why a particular situation doesn’t work well for me, etc.
And, most significantly, if I can’t honor all of myself, how can anyone else?
And even more significantly, fighting it doesn’t help me. The first thing I need to do is accept it. See it. See its value. Really be with the fact that this is who I am. Reprimanding myself doesn’t actually change facts. Really looking at them, really soaking in the cost of being this way might actually allow me to change. But ignoring it or being mad at it definitely does not. So even if my only goal is to change that part of me, fighting it is not the path to get there.
All this thinking led me to realize the obvious: the first step is to accept what is.
This is the gift of the present moment. It’s why I picked present as my word. Focusing on what IS. And sitting with it.
And honoring it.
The idea of honoring all parts of me and really basking in the gifts of who I am in the world sounds so wonderful. It also sounds like something that’s not immediately accessible to me. Something to maybe one-day reach. To really embrace who I am and find a situation where that person thrives. I can clearly see that to find where I thrive, I need to first accept every part of me. I need to see my whole self and embrace it.
And I think that starts with putting an end to fighting parts of myself.