The greatest act of rebellion is a simple act of acceptance
The music video of the fourth track of Mike Posner’s sophomore album At Night,alone, has a profoundly beautiful thumbnail. It’s a powerful image that has stuck around in my mind longer than I thought it would. Picturesque waves colour the background and in the centre of the frame is a man with a raggedy beard, wearing a tattered white shirt and holding a sheet of paper. There’s a simple message scribbled on it, one that resonated deeply with me:
“Be as you are”
There’s another image I fancy, the image of someone lying in the embrace of soft, lush grass, looking up at the splatter of stars on an impossibly dark night, contemplating the mysteries of the universe, a fantasy I revel in. But more often than not, I find myself on my bed, awake at the cusp of midnight, staring at the ceiling, consumed by my own fears and anxieties, some credible, others mostly unreasonable. On nights like those, being alive seems like a peculiar experience and I bargain with God to make a few tweaks, alterations I think will somehow make life more worthwhile. After wading in the waters of loathing for a while, I chide myself for dwelling in self-indulgent desolation and then hope for sleep to caress me until the crack of dawn.
And on nights like those, I want just four words to ring in my head
“Be as you are”
It may feel like what I need is a manifestation of my ideal version of reality, but what I really need is a simple, honest acceptance of who I am, just the way I am.
Acceptance is a tricky business. You don’t wake up one fine day and promise yourself that life will be all dilly dally because now you have chosen to accept yourself. It doesn’t work that way, trust me, I have tried. Acceptance is more like falling in love because that’s exactly what it is. An act of self-love. Some days are kinder and the wind feels softer, but other days are rough, and the same wind will feel coarse against your skin. The trick, (not that it is anything new, just that the realisation hit me too) is to let all of it flow in. The good, the bad, the ugly, all of it.
Acceptance is such a radically powerful concept, especially in a world that takes an almost sadistic pleasure in reminding us that we aren’t enough. We keep running away from ourselves, ripping apart at our own fabric, hoping to find someone else inside; someone prettier, smarter, more successful, someone perceivably more worthy of love and acceptance. But in our attempts at tearing down our own miserable existence, we only end up hurting ourselves, each wound more deeper and painful.
But somewhere inside, there’s a gentle throb within our veins that knows the futility of our striving for something else, something better, but it’s faint, almost imperceptible under the blaring noise of the world and the whizzing of our mind. It keeps tapping along, hoping that someday it will be heard, so that before we depart for wherever we go after death, we’ll know that the very act of being alive was such a wildly majestic gesture.
Acceptance helps us to see not just ourselves, but others in a new light. No longer are they specimens of our own projections that need to be judged, labelled and sorted into categories. Instead, each person transforms into a unique culmination of the different flavours of life, each with just as much vulnerability and confusion that we hide in our own hearts, each with a yearning to be accepted, just as they are. When we are at peace with ourselves, the world just seems more accepting. More inviting.
Another thing I have come to accept is that merely knowing something doesn’t transform into a perfect practice of the principle. There are countless moments when I have snapped, completely forgotten this message that I so deeply believe in. I have bickered, I have resisted, I have broken my own resolve. And there is no doubt in my mind that I will snap again, over and over again. But that’s how it is, and it’s alright because, after every stumble and fall, I can always pick myself up again and remind myself, again and again, to be, just as I am and allow others to be, just as they are.
“Everybody’s got scars that they hide
And everybody plays the fool sometimes,
Just be as you are”