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How 2020 Led Me To Self-Acceptance

From the moment that I slipped from my preteen years into high school, the ideal version of myself formed in my mind. She was me, but different. She always looked put together, had international trips booked, an organized planner, and a perfectly full life. She never had to call the doctor to explain that she was going to be late because of poor planning like I did. She never struggled to ask for what she wanted or felt behind in accomplishing her goals like I did. She led an adventurous, well-balanced life, and she did so without a flyaway out of place. 

We can all have an idealized version of ourselves in our heads: the version who dresses like the women parading through our Pinterest boards, excels at our dream job, and takes all the chances we might not. But more often than not, I find the shadow of her hanging over me rather than the vision of her inspiring me. Before COVID-19 happened, I could take steps to get closer to being her. I could buy a new outfit on a whim, book an exciting trip, or stash money away towards my financial goals. But when everything shut down indefinitely in March, my road to becoming her shut down too. I could no longer use the illusion of a better me to comfort me on my worst days. My worst days were here, and there wasn’t an end in sight. 

Since the shutdown, my life has consisted of remaining within the walls of my home and leaving only to go to work and the doctor’s office. I’m dealing with medical testing to diagnose a disease I’ve been fighting for years. I’m coping with the fact that I won’t be able to see my friends who live overseas for a long time. I’ve dealt with the loss of my grandmother, whose passing I couldn’t travel for and mourn over. All of these hardships I have met, yet I had to meet them as who I am at this very moment. 

Who I am in this moment has taken in all of these losses and felt them to the fullest extent. Who I am at this moment continues to take it day by day as it turns into month by month. Who I am has had to be strong enough to endure it all and carry on, and that’s not something I can say for the ideal version of myself. I won’t ever be able to speak for her, though, because through this experience I have learned that she is not and will never be me. 

Who you are in this moment has met and overcome (or, let’s be honest, survived) your own hardships this year. Whatever you’ve faced in the past few months — whether it be lying in bed day after day and barely making it through or facing your problems chin up and fists ablaze — you did as who you are right at this moment. Although this current situation is far out of the norm, any year we face will have its own challenges. The most ideal version of who we are is someone who can endure living in messy times, and at times, being the mess ourselves. 

If this year has shown us anything, it’s that our five-year plan has a plan of its own. As we go through our lives we get damaged and derailed, our dreams change, and our goals are sometimes further away than we hoped for. Maybe the perfect version of who we are doesn’t sit at the end of the rainbow but is with us right here, miles away from it, confident that anything between where we are and those beaming colors won’t be enough to keep us away.

Kelly is a Junior majoring in English on the creative writing track. She has a dangerous habit of daydream scrolling through designer clothing and a hobby of recreating the pieces herself with her sewing machine and an iced coffee on stand-by. Her heart belongs to her black lab and pit bull mix Leia (named after the princess). She has dreams of writing for a major fashion publication one day and plans to dramatically journal in her bedroom in the meantime. You can find her on Pinterest planning her next big adventure or pretending to be on it already at world showcase in Epcot.
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