It’s that time of year, you know, the one where stores get stormed to buy gifts for ungrateful children. It’s the time to let your hair down, eat and drink a little extra in the name of holiday cheer. It’s time to reflect on the past year, and it’s ups and downs, rights wrongs, wins and losses, success and failures. It’s time to make that list of resolutions that will last until mid January, until falling off the end of the Earth.
I’ve never been one to make a list of new year resolutions. In my world, goals are set at any place and time, as relying on a time of year to bring inspiration denies the spontaneity of inspiration. As far as reflection, sure, I’ll take a minute to look back at the events of the year and cherish them for a minute. However, I’m an introspective man so revisiting that stuff is not an extensive process. Be that as it may, over the entirety of 2013, there was one major theme that keeps rearing it’s head: self acceptance.
From the beginning, I’ve always been pushed to be a certain way. Of course, I don’t take kindly to that sort of thing, but it becomes an epidemic when seeking validation of oneself from external sources. That sort of thing, I believe stems from being the identified patient in a family that cares as best they can. See, I was always the ‘crazy’ one, stuck in therapy starting in the seventh grade, and continuing late into my teens. It didn’t help. I wasn’t honest with the therapists nor myself. The reason behind that? I was unable to accept myself during that time. See, self acceptance isn’t being apathetic to ones place in life and just accepting it. It’s more about being able accept oneself for all ones faults, talents, dislikes and desires, and keep ones eye on the prize.
One example I can provide from this year is the entire debacle with my former employer. It was blatantly obvious I was unhappy and stagnate. I wanted to learn more, and made efforts in my spare time to do so, but opportunities for advancement were given to other people instead of me. The reasons behind this were, more than likely, personal, as I think my former friend / supervisor / bandmate, didn’t want to be seen as playing favorites. Instead of accepting the way I felt and the reasons behind it, I decided to get angry and vindictive. I shut down, stopped talking to him, and others. I was bummed the fuck out, but channeled that to anger directed both externally and internally. Then I was terminated and during the period prior to my unemployment being approved, I was really fucking down on myself. Instead, I faked it, but for a cat like me, so adept at self destruction, that combination is a dangerous one. Had I focused on self acceptance, acknowledging my depression and tendencies, I think that those 2.5 months would have been a lot more productive.
However, I’m not going to kick my own ass about that because it’s clear to me that I need to accept my actions during that period and move on. A little while back, Ace tweeted a link to a cracked article about three types of regret that can destroy you. He pointed at #2 “Regret for what you didn’t do.” It seems that “regret for what you did” and “regret for what you didn’t do” run parallel to each other, as one beget’s the other in many instances. Regret is fine when used a tool to move forward. I even mentioned it in this comment a while ago. That said, without self acceptance, it can turn into a weapon of mass self destruction.
Another way I’ve come to recognize this process during the past year has been with people in my life. To step out of my comfort zone, and try to counteract my introverted nature, I’ve forced myself to try to expand my social circle outside of my close friends. This entails putting myself out there, dealing with small talk, and all around uncomfortable shit. What I found is, as I got to know these new folks, I realized we didn’t see eye to eye, on hardly anything. My first thought was, “what can I do to be more like-able to this dude?” That fleeting thought was quickly replaced by “no fuck that.” By accepting myself, who I am, my convictions, I knew that this person wasn’t going be on my “best of” list. I’m doing my shit, why do I need to try to get anyone to like me? If they don’t, their loss.
It’s always been clear to me that self acceptance is essential to a healthy self, but I don’t think, even now, I’ve realized all of it’s applications. The one thing that has been burned directly into my brain, is it is a daily practice. No one will be able to do it for me, but it does help to have supportive friends. Just like the other day, I was riffing with an old friend of mine, and I was expounding on my frustrations of trying to get other musicians to play my material and ideas the way I think best. My buddy said “Don’t let that shit bug you, you just keep playing what you think we need to hear.”
He’s goddamn right.