Acceptance.

This post is a part of an ongoing series entitled MIP {Man In Progress}. After my 25th Birthday I decided to improve three aspects of my life {my physical well-being, my writing career, and my romantic relationships}. My philosophy is that a writer’s work and his life are irrevocably intertwined and in order to improve one we inevitably have to improve the other.

It’s been almost 8 months since I made my pledge to improve my physical well-being, my romantic relationships, and my writing career. So, after 8 months of some highs and some lows in this pursuit, what do I have to show for it? Eh…  Not as much as I would like.

I kept my exercise routine consistent for some time, but recently, it’s become more sporadic.

My romantic life fizzled after I went on few dates. Whenever I knew that me and a guy wouldn’t work well together as partners, I had to end my brief time with him, and I hated myself for it. I don’t like bringing pain to anyone. Call me a wimp, but I just don’t have the heart to size-up a whole bunch of strangers after two or three times seeing them, and then make a crucial, potentially life-altering decision as to whether or not they’ll be the next love of my life.

To tell you the truth, the whole process makes me feel too much like I’m a judge on the OG version of American Idol.

(Simon:  “Your taste in music is simply dreadful. Dreadful. That’s my honest opinion. Honestly.”

Randy:  “Dog, you know, dog. I liked the way you complimented me on my outfit, dog, but when you said my shirt brought out my eyes your voice was a little pitchy. That’s my only complaint. But I thought that the rest of the date was okay.”

Paula:  “You were amazing. You’re beautiful, stunning, and have so much charisma. You have so much potential, you really do. But I want you to know that even if I dump you today, your dating career isn’t over. Just keep doing what you’re doing. You were great.”)

Finally, as for my writing career, it’s progressing…  at an achingly slow pace. (I mean, I got it:  slow and steady wins the race—but really? This slow? Come on!)

In general, it feels like I’m 100 pegs below where I should be.

These days, I often find myself retreating. I see that my body isn’t where I think it should be, and so I skip a day or two of running. I see my career is not progressing as fast as I think it should, so I might avoid taking any more big risks, because I wonder if trying or working harder is even worth it. I see that a dating relationship doesn’t end with both people feeling totally great about themselves, so I might avoid making another effort to call someone, because I hate having to deal with all the disappointment.

Then, when the time comes to write, I just sit at my desk, flick open my laptop, and scroll through the pages of my manuscript. I see all the paragraphs that still need so much work, and I feel exasperated at just how long, and how frustrating the writing process can be.

My eyes fall on the curtain on my window. I think about how this curtain’s too thin and doesn’t effectively block out the neighbor’s porch light at night. I think about how my desk chair doesn’t support my back as much as it should. My finger brushes across the the scar on my mouth (the one I got from years of absent mindedly chewing on my lips whenever I got anxious), and wonder if one day I should get laser surgery to get rid of it. I think of the bags under my eyes that first appeared after several sleepless nights in college. Even after college, the bags never left, no matter how many night’s of great sleep I had. There’s my super thin wrists that are as wide as a half-dollar, my eyes that look more bloodshot than they did a decade ago, my palms that sweat so much that two years ago, when I inadvertently moistened a student’s worksheet, the 10-year-old student pointed to my sweaty palm and said with sincere wonderment:

“Wow, Mr. Morales. It’s like you have a superpower!”

Yes, the list of things that I can’t accept about me goes on and on. But I am realizing that not being able to accept these things is what is keeping me from just letting everything unfold at its own time and pace. When I deny reality, I don’t solve the problem, I just take my focus away from the necessary steps I need to take to address the problem.

So, instead of refusing reality, today I choose to accept myself.

I accept that I cannot bear having to break bad news to another guy I’m dating. I accept that there will be days when my strong desire to exercise in the early morning will evaporate, and my hand will land lazily on the “snooze” button. I accept the fact that my career will continue to progress drip-by- drip, inch-by-inch, baby step-by-baby step.

I accept the fact that my novel is still at its beginning stages and will be for some time.

I accept me. All of me.

I accept the world around me.

I accept that building up resilience requires that I easily accept anything that appears to me as ugly or unfinished. Instead of trying to “fix” reality, I will choose to accept the subtle, unique way in which life chooses to unfold for each of us.

I will accept the 10-year-old boy who revealed to me a hidden super power I didn’t even know I had. I accept this boy, and when I accept him, I can finally hear what he has to tell me:  that I should accept my sweaty palms, allow them to drip as much as they want to, and then go out and save the world.

much acceptance,

Ollin

What do you have trouble accepting? How do you work to accept yourself and the world around you?

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35 comments on “Acceptance.

  1. Christina says:

    Great post Ollin!

    It seems to me you’ve given yourself so much pressure to meet deadlines that you’re getting yourself depressed.

    It’s great you wanted to improve three aspects of your life, but who says things are progressing too slowly?

    Only you. You’ve applied deadlines and time constraints to life, and that never works. You’re setting yourself to feel like you’ve failed, instead of seeing what you’ve achieved.

    Maybe it’s time you just enjoy yourself a little, and embrace life and whatever makes you happy. And stop putting pressure on yourself.

    About revising your novel – it often works wonders if you just let a manuscript “breathe” a little. Just ignore it for a while – weeks, months, whatever. And when you get ideas about how to revise that get you excited, then you know you’re ready to go back to work.

    Going straight from first draft to revisions doesn’t give you enough distance to see things clearly and fall in love with your story again.

    I hope you feel better soon and enjoy the summer!

    • Ollin says:

      Hey Christina.

      You know. You’re absolutely right. My counselor suggested the same thing: to focus on the positive moves forward instead of all the drawbacks.

      I’ll take your advice to heart. Thank you.

  2. fritzfreud says:

    Hey Ollin. Good post. (Best line: “I accept me. All of me.”) Made me want to go back and read the rest of the MIP series. Also reminds me of a post I wrote for my blog, Monkeytraps, about the dog in my head that likes to chew on my self-esteem: http://monkeytraps.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/berts-dog/
    best, Steve.

  3. mairedubhtx says:

    I have trouble accepting myself. I seem to make mistakes over and over, sometimes the same mistakes. I have alienated my daughter because I misinterpreted things she did or said, I think. I’m not sure, I don’t much like her husband though I have tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. I pray to accept myself and my situation. I am Muslim and my daughter is not thrilled by that even though she isn’t religious herself. I will not be seeing my dear granddaughters all summer and that depresses me.So I am having trouble accepting my situation and hope that prayer will be heard.

    • Ollin says:

      I’m sorry to hear about that. Have you told your daughter about being heartbroken that you won’t see your daughters?

      Well, I have found that with family if you communicate your feelings you’ll find that your relationship will get deeper and that new understanding may mend some broken ties.

      Good luck to you!

  4. Down days are the worst. I had one for my writing the other day where I sat and wondered if ANY of my stories were good. I think I solved it by going to sleep. May sound weird but usually if I get in a bad mood, I’ll take a nap and feel 100% better. What bugged me just doesn’t seem as problematic after a nap.

    I don’t have much more to add other than this was a great post. (Oh and sweaty palms and half-dollar wide wrists aside, you look like a handsome man to me ^_^)

  5. Conor Ebbs says:

    Hey Ollin,

    I don’t accept seemingly perennial personality traits that hold me back. I work on them, every day. Anything else is resignation.

    Like you, however, I do accept the eccentricities, the long road ahead for anyone serious about making legacy art, and the inevitable hardships ahead.

    I appreciate your candour and respect your bravery to be so vulnerable.

    Conor

    • Ollin says:

      Thank you Conor. You’re right, but I think in order to work on them sometimes we have to admit that they are there. Like they say, the first step to addressing a problem is to admit that there is a problem.

      • Conor Ebbs says:

        I do admit they are there, that’s how I can address them. Acceptance is important, but we are instruments of change too. If you can’t accept it, take it on.🙂

        • I would have to agree with Conor on this one. Admitting that there is a problem is different from accepting it. If you simply start accepting problems as they come, you may not want to change them as badly as you would if you had not accepted them.

          If you know that there is a problem, you need to keep looking for solutions until you find one. And, for that, you need to tell yourself that this might be how things are now, but this is not how they will be tomorrow.

          Best of luck for your MIP project!🙂

  6. Marcia says:

    Well, at more than twice your age, I can say that the difficulty you have in accepting all of those aspects of yourself has a lot to do with your age. From 18 to 40, we seem to want and expect more out of life than we’re getting. It’s a normal growing pain. But you’ve become aware that there are things you can do to improve the things you’re unhappy with and you’ve learned to accept it. It’s really tough to try to improve on everything at once. Re writing…as long as your writing something everyday, don’t stress over it. Take it in small bites. We all want to have a well-selling book on the market in under a year’s time. I read many blogs that say it could take a lot longer. With your health, that should be your first priority. When you have that where you want it, you’ll have more confidence in other areas. And while it may seem that you’ll never meet the right person and you’re just hurting all the wrong ones…again, normal. But the right person will almost magically come along when you’re happy with yourself and feeling like, “If I never find the right man, I may be lonely, but I’m okay with my life and myself otherwise.” When you can honestly feel that way…BAM!! It will happen for you. The writing will come, too, when you have your head straight about yourself. This is what I found from personal experience. I still have times when I sabotage my own efforts, but those times ar getting easier to avoid. Maybe you should, just for yourself, write a resume to the world about The Wonderful Ollin Morales and prove to yourself how terrific you are even with some self-perceived flaws.

    • Ollin says:

      Wow, thank you Marcia!

      I have heard that past age 40 there is a huge paradigm shift and things are great. I can’t imagine what that is like, but I’m envious of it. 20’s are highly overrated. I find that old age is where it is at where wisdom is concerned. Too bad no many people see it that way.

      You’re right, I’m putting too much on myself. I need to narrow it down. Maybe I’ll just change MIP to just my health or something. I’ve been thinking deeply about this – wondering if I should continue MIP because it seems a lot to tackle, but then again it is part of the writing process.

      At least that’s what I believe.

      You know, I will write that resume, what a great idea!

      Much love to you, and thank you for your warm thoughts.

  7. Victoria says:

    Perfect timing on this post Ollin! I woke up today with many thoughts of non-acceptance myself. From the lawn still needs more mowing (even though I worked on it all weekend) to today not feeling like a birthday because my spouse is having surgery tomorrow. Every negative thought came crowding in. So I went outside to my chicken coop and opened the door and watched my girls come excitedly scrambling out. They peeped and pecked and disappeared into the way-too-long grass and they made me smile, espeically when I realized that a chicken just lives in the present moment. Something I can learn from them! I hope you’re finding smiles in unexpected places today, too.

    • Ollin says:

      Thanks Victoria.

      That’s a great tip. Being around animals is always great. I have a dog “niece” and I love playing with her because she reminds me to be present and have fun, and she teaches me how to have unconditional love for everything and be curious and excited to explore the world around her.

      I wish the same for you, too! Find smiles!🙂

  8. Qiuling says:

    Simply beautiful.
    I love that this post is so honest that it is rather nerve-wracking to read. I could relate to many of your situations— Time when it’s so easy to blame and criticise, time when we lose faith in ourselves, in relationships, in our work, in creativity, that we ever wonder if anybody would love us the way we are, or would we achieve our dreams.

    Yet, you choose to accept.
    It is your courageous vulnerablitly that makes our friend here, acceptance, even more welcoming. It’s healing to read this, which I’m sure it feels the same way for you when you write.

    Aw. I can’t help but to chuckle at the little boy’s remake of your “superpower”. How sweet.
    It reminds me of my ex’s sweaty palm. Whenever I held his hand, he would sweat a buckle and wet my hand so much, it’s like I just washed my hand. I would tease him that, is he commending at my “beauty”, or is he terrified by my presense. He would always ended up sweating even more. Since my experience with my ex, I always find sweaty palm rather, a cute quirk.

    Speaking of which, the more you have to keep on writing. This is your strength— sincere, initimate writing.
    You have a beautiful gift so spread to the rest. The world needs you.🙂

    • Ollin says:

      Thank you. I was told first by my writing mentor Cherrie Moraga that this was my strength. But it’s great to reminded of it.

      Thanks for the pick me up! Oh and thanks so much for loving the sweaty palmers of the world. We are very insecure about it, and so to find someone who finds it wonderful is great!

  9. Lex Falcon says:

    This post strikes such a chord with me. Just today, I’ve been panicking and tying myself in knots about the things I don’t accept about myself — my weight (only just above healthy, but I’ve had food-issues in the past, so…), my mental state (frustratingly bad), my tendency to procrastinate (and the essay I should be writing right now)… stupid, small things like my habit of disappearing off the face of the internet for days on end, even. (Or at least off WordPress — that’s been weeks and I really must post an update to my own blog — though I do still tend to hang around Twitter pretty constantly.) A hundred small things which add up to big things which eat away at the edges of my sanity until I feel like I’m going to drop off some massive metaphorical cliff of bleak, dull-edged panic. If panic can be dull. It seems an appropriate way to describe how I feel about now.

    But this… You spoke of denying reality, and that’s what I do all the time. Denying the fact that (forgive my bluntness; I hope I don’t offend or disturb) I am ex-[mercifully relatively mildly]-anorexic, chronically depressed, a procrastinator, a worrier. If I could learn to accept those things, I could work through them: get some ED counselling, maybe; stop talking about how I accept my mental condition and do things about it — such as make a habit of taking the pills I forget about half the time — make and keep to to-do lists; take each worry in hand as it comes up and do what I can to fix it, and accept the things I cannot change.

    I may be a slightly better person now than I was before reading this, and I thank you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and write a very brief to-do list so that I can check off my achievements, and then finish this essay. Because I can.

    • Ollin says:

      Wonderful Lex,

      No, you don’t feel like you would offend by being honest. I have worked really hard to make C2C a place that is open, welcome, safe, accepting and an encouraging place. That’s why I moderate comments and I often rail against experts or other bloggers who put down people as a way to get their kicks.

      Human beings, I have learned, are so sensitive – and we do not often respect this sensitivity. Words can be harmful if used in the wrong way.

      I am soooo happy to hear that this post helped you. That is my intention with these kinds of posts. Of course it’s uncomfortable to be so open and vulnerable, but I’m hoping to make it okay for all of us to share our insecurities and faults.

      In the hopes that we can just get over all of it already and continue to grow, heal, and fulfill our wildest dreams.

      I am glad you made a connection with the piece and I wish you all the love and all the best of luck with all of the challenges you face!

  10. Oliver says:

    I’m cheering you on Ollin!

    I’m not sure my own life is a good guide, because maybe people in general are more self-accepting than I am, but accepting myself has been a lifelong struggle. You know that saying, something about, an unexamined life is not worth living? Well, I’m getting to the point of believing that too much self-examination is a bad thing. I agree that at some point we have to just accept who and what we are and move on from there.

    There is a great deal about life and society and our culture that we cannot change. We either accept it or reject it, but to struggle against it is a waste of energy. Accept or reject, and then let go. Not that we shouldn’t stand up for our beliefs, not that we shouldn’t fight injustice or that which we deeply feel is wrong, but to beat ourselves up for things we cannot change is only self-damaging.

    One thought that occurred to me a couple of weeks ago that I feel compelled to share is that it seems to me that we have things backwards. Like, we spend our twenties building a career and relationships and acquiring things (material possessions) when we should be having fun, exploring the world, learning as much as we can (life experience, not just school), and getting to know ourselves. I felt so much pressure in my teens and early twenties to find a career and stick with it for life, and try as hard as I can, and not fail, and not make mistakes, and not try new things, and to keep working and working and working. I left that career in my 30s having made too many mistakes, having failed too much, trying too hard, and working, working, working. Now that I’m in my 40s I find myself reverting to childhood dreams (in terms of occupation — not career, because to me that’s a bad word), and finally trying to do with my life what I want rather than what my family and society said I should do. That, my friend, takes a lot of acceptance– both on my part and on the side of those that know me.

    My advice (not that you asked for it ;-)) is to HAVE FUN. If I could live my 20s over knowing what I know now, that’s what I would do. And not doing what I thought was fun at the time, but what I consider fun now; which just so happens to be what I need to support my occupation. Goals are great, and for some are necessary to accomplishing anything at all, but living in the moment and experiencing everything possible is invaluable. And do it before you get bogged down with a mortgage and family and pets and heavy-weight responsibility. Oh, but definitely take care of your body, ’cause oh golly does it fall apart as you age! lol

    So yes, cheering you on Ollin. Accept yourself and move on. There’s absolutely no point to trying to fix that which cannot be fixed.

    • Ollin says:

      Wow, Oliver.

      Thank you for all that really amazing wisdom. No really. Thanks. It gives me some great perspective. I will take your advice to heart and have more fun – although that can be very challenging.

      Thank you. Hmm… Maybe I will switch MIP to just health next year. That would be less stressful and as other have said in these comments, including you, that taking care of my health would be a more essential priority that I should focus on.

      Well, anyways, thank you very much for your advice. Sincerely.

    • Qiuling says:

      Oliver, thank you for your sharing and your reminder for the most important things in our lives. I am in my early twenties and I make sure to learn a lot, love a lot and play a lot.🙂

  11. Hi, Ollin. Thanks for this honest, insightful, and uplifting post.

    I can definitely relate to the phenomenon of setting big goals and then feeling defeated when they don’t come to pass right away. I give you tremendous credit for being realistic and recognizing that real change takes both time and self-acceptance. I need to work on these things myself.

  12. I really needed to read this post today. I’m getting ready for a big and overwhelming job interview tomorrow and facing some setbacks of my own in my writing. I, too, have a novel that can’t get past the beginning stages. I won’t even pretend to give you advice because it sounds like you already know what you need to do. You’re on the right track.

    Instead I’ll thank you for reminding me about baby steps. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  13. Jeanne says:

    Dear Ollin, I recognised all you said in the body of your post, but was so glad when you got to the acceptance part, because the scream inside me for you to do that was getting awfully loud. We all struggle Ollin, and your courage in sharing your thoughts with us makes it easier for all who read your column. Thank you. This morning because of reading you, I began writing a column to myself called:

    Small moments of joy.

    People think I m amazing. I am not. If only they knew the noise that comes from my mouth sometimes. How my chest is always leaden with tears which course too often to my eyes. How I conflict over this aloneness but don’t always want company. How I swear I will not mention his death again and how even though I am getting better at it, I often fail. Like using it as excuse to the Salvo collectors at my door forcing them to say they are sorry for my loss even as their eyes meet mine and they still hold the mouth of their bag open. I think of all I have, this little house which this affluent suburb makes look odd. I have a garden of sorts out front and a garden large and flourishing out back, and in my old garage with its noisy heavy roller door, pushed high at the very moment of the salvo’s arrival, I have my old one thousand dollar white Volvo, which let me down one day last week, but is generally reliable.
    I gave them, the salvo collectors, a man and a girl clad in CSF yellow because the day was rough, a few dollars worth of coin, saying I hope I never need them, but who knows. The bills are pinned three deep on the cork board and they just keep coming. But the cats are fed and the dog’s in bed and I’m lucky. Born with a brain that worked it out early, life’s not all about possessions. The roof, the hearth, the un-hungry stomach and how big your heart.
    Life’s a struggle, but if it were easy, it would be less: unvalued, unlearned, unlived.

    • Ollin says:

      I am so sorry about your loss, Jeanne, and all of your struggles. I hope you can reach out to friends in family in this hour of need.

      Much love to you.

  14. OK, I’m going to revisit my New Year goals. This could be scary.

  15. Dear Ollin,
    I feel like you have echoed what I all have felt at one time or another in varying degrees depending upon my age or circumstances. You have definitely struck a universal chord with your raw honesty and courage. I applaud you for setting these goals and for giving yourself permission to accept yourself,” All of you”. It is in this spirit of acceptance and forgiveness of ourselves that we can truly grow. Thank you so much for sharing. Your posts are always so thought provoking!
    Blessings,Ollin.
    Kathy

    • Ollin says:

      Thank you so much, Kathleen. How sweet of you to say that.

      You know, I just speak from a place of truth and often, without really trying, I hit on something universal. As you can see by these comments. But I feel blessed with the opportunity to move others to feel a little accepted themselves. At least I hope that is what this post accomplishes.

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