Why Acceptance Can Be Unacceptable 

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By Ariel Minter

I’d like to nominate Fear as the most dangerous emotion. Of course, it is entirely healthy to feel fear (if you don’t…well, I might look into that) but I have decided that Fear has the potential to destroy any relationship that you let it run. 

Now, I have to come clean about a few things. I am a liar. I am insecure. I am afraid. These are very harsh to type out, and harsh to read. I do not always lie, I am not always insecure, and I am not always afraid. 

Ten days ago I fell. It was pretty bad. My chin split open, leading to 12 stitches, and I couldn’t open my jaw more than an inch for about 4 days. I had to fly out to Arizona because I had broken or chipped as many as 10 teeth (my Grandpa is an amazing Dentist and I don’t have dental insurance). I had to have a tooth surgically extracted, 8 composites (dental vocab for essentially rebuilding teeth), and one porcelain crown. Obviously, the big question from everyone was “What on earth happened?”

So about this lying/insecure/afraid business: I was trying to think about why I (and all people at some point or another) lie. Or why people say they will do something and then never do it, or why we are all so compelled to bend the truth in order to look a little better. I guess you could answer all of these thoughts with suggesting that is just the Human Condition. But I am compelled to think it is more than that…and definitely not as definitive or as seemingly simple. Here’s my theory – 

I want to be accepted and, often times, more than that. I want to be liked/loved by everyone. Therefore, when I first meet someone I put the best version of myself forward. I used to be more inclined to tailor this version of myself in small ways to what I think this new person would really like. 

Now, if this is someone I really look up to or just automatically really like at first, I will bend over backwards to get them to really like me back. This is where the fibbing (okay lying) and overcommitting/double scheduling comes in. I like to consider myself a “recovering co-dependent” so this scenario isn’t typical to everyone, especially if you are not even close to being co-dependent. And I am a lot better about being true to my word than I ever was.

Maybe you relate to this, maybe it just seems crazy, but I do this for a reason. Like I’ve mentioned, I am much better about being authentic and rigorously honest because it is much more satisfying than living a life motivated by making everyone happy. But I still fall back into my old patterns of behavior more frequently than I would like. 

Why would anyone be like that? It seems even more miserable and embarrassing when I write it out and am now exposing it to whoever wanders on to this page. But I know why I occasionally behave this way. It’s because I am afraid. I am afraid that you won’t like me, or that I won’t be enough to be accepted by you. I am terrified of being rejected by you or not good enough. I am afraid of being judged. I am afraid of not being liked. 

As I’ve grown, I’ve gotten closer to knowing who I really am. Ultimately, I respect myself enough now that I often choose to be myself. And I still care if you don’t like me. It still hurts my feelings and leaves me feeling insecure/rejected or that there is “something wrong with me”. But it is worth it to me. I don’t allow fear to make me someone I’m not anymore (most of the time). I never want to compromise my integrity or disrespect myself. So, that means having good boundaries, with myself and others. And knowing that it is okay that everyone doesn’t necessarily love me. 

Anyways, “What on earth happened?” Well, I was in the middle of a tickle war that sort of turned into wrestling. And you know that sleeper hold or whatever it is called? Yep. And I face planted straight onto tile. It completely sucked. And it still sucks. But I am healthy, not in pain anymore, and you can’t even see where my grandpa had to pull my tooth out. 

It may sound silly, but I am still embarrassed to tell people what happened. Mostly because I like to consider myself smart enough to take care of myself, and I know that “accidents happen” but I never really thought all of this would result from messing around. And I was afraid of being judged because of that mistake. 

All in all I’ve realized that the people I admire the most are the ones who can be who they are, and those who accept people for having the courage to be who they are. I don’t know how well I know you, but I commit to being me with you, and that means that you may not like me. And I still really like to be liked, even though I know it’s unhealthy to live my life based on that.

Whatever the case may be, being rigorously honest is really hard. It means risking acceptance. But if someone doesn’t accept me (or you) for being myself (yourself) than I’d say both parties aren’t missing out on what “could have been”. 


3 thoughts on “Why Acceptance Can Be Unacceptable 

  1. Thank you for sharing. I am the same way. I seek approval, respect and love. I shape perceptions and hide things in order to be accepted. I pray for authenticity, because God knows everything and finds me worthy.

  2. Kevin,
    Thank you for sharing! It is not an easy thing to say, especially because our culture values independence and originality (and, ironically, being real and admitting these things is somehow seemingly ‘un-authentic’ or unoriginal). Anyways, it’s nice to know that I have many people in my life willing to step out and share that they experience this as well.
    Sara, thank you! You and your family are deeply missed.

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