Mmegi Online :: Embrace being messy
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Last Updated
Monday 18 June 2018, 16:04 pm.
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Embrace being messy

Recognising and extolling good character traits in others is an action we are naturally primed to do. We celebrate the Mother Teresas, the Desmond Tutus, and the Oprahs of the world: often at times, justifiably so. Praising the goodness of others is addictive.
By Correspondent Fri 12 May 2017, 12:05 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Embrace being messy








It makes us feel good about our own selves. It allows us to assume the goodness of others as a reflection of our own.However, to focus on the goodness of others to the exclusion of other qualities, is dangerous. By doing so we put others into boxes, and by extension ourselves as well. No one is either good or bad, and a lot of things in life are neither black nor white; they are however, different shades of grey.

People are complex beings who constantly shift depending on the urgency of the situation, what they did or did not eat for breakfast, who pissed them off in the morning, their mood, the weather… However, we as a society — because we’re all complicit to varying degrees — have conditioned ourselves to think that the world operates in dichotomies.

As humans, we are wired to find patterns, categorise and make sweeping generalisations based on limited amounts of information — it’s how we protect ourselves in an otherwise very complex and confusing world. However, the instinct to generalise, categorise and label things has its limits. The human experience and condition cannot be neatly packaged. It is messy and has many nuances. Despite our natural tendencies to quickly categorise people, we can still change once we become aware of such habits. To be human is to recognise and empathize with the challenges of being — of existing in the time-space continuum.

Being human is to acknowledge and celebrate our negative, as well, as our admirable qualities as they ebb and flow in our daily lives. It is to recognise that we are works in progress. Anger, insecurity, jealousy, envy, pride, and lust are equally valid emotions as love, trust, courage, mercy, hope and kindness. We should pause, acknowledge, and even celebrate the feelings of jealousy, envy, anger, lust and pride that we feel, but are often so embarrassed to have — particularly if you have a strong Christian background like many do here in Botswana.

I would like to suggest that in addition to looking for the nuance in others, allow yourself to accept the nuance within yourself. Give yourself room to breathe — to be — without the necessary pressure of what you should be.

Why is it important to embrace yourself, including and especially your negative qualities that are often so frowned upon?

The answer is

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simple: the world is constantly telling us that we’re not good enough. We are not skinny enough. We are not pretty enough. We are not smart enough. To despise yourself or certain parts of yourself on top of the garbage that the world overwhelms you with is too burdensome and unnecessary.

After four tough college years and jumping through hoops to gain various people’s approval, I have embraced the philosophy of accepting myself holistically: not just the good parts, but the ugly parts as well. It was a decision I made, a product of numerous failed attempts at social acceptability. The power of choice — to choose who you want to be is accessible to us all at any given moment. In the powerful words of Dr. Seuss, I have learned — no, I have chosen — to be who I am and to say what I feel “because those who don’t mind, don’t matter. And those who matter don’t mind.”

I can be good, and in a heartbeat, bad. I am a complex human being, a single action or choice, does not define who I am. I am messy and I am unapologetic about it.

Embracing your shortcomings and accepting them as part of who you are can also make you more empathetic towards others. It encourages you to make room for the flaws of others, to give them space to grow and develop because you are equally (though uniquely) flawed, too.

It is important to accept ourselves as we are right now, in all our complexes. Not who we will be in the next hour, or the next day or year. I believe and understand that we constantly have to be bettering ourselves, both in terms of character and skills. More importantly though, I believe in embracing and loving ourselves in all of our messiness today, because, tomorrow is another day with its own set of problems. Today, what is required of you is to love yourself — wholeheartedly and unabashedly.

*Thobo is a graduate of Williams College, Massachusetts, USA. He is a senior PR consultant at a leading local PR company and has experience in global health at the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI). In his spare time he writes self-help and productivity articles. You can follow him on twitter @acupwithtea

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