No, I'm not talking about Boston University, although they do use that acronym/slogan- isn't it awesome?
I'm talking about self-appreciation.
Recently, a friend on facebook posted two links: one to Asians having operations to look more Western and another on how dark-skinned blacks are treated by light-skinned blacks. Meanwhile Japanese people line up for skin whiteners. Yeah, I know, they're already whiter than white people.
Personally, I think they're all a little ridiculous. But they're trends, which means I'm clearly in the minority. And that's sad, because what's wrong with being yourself?
I'll be honest. I don't have a lot of issues with my physical self. I've said before that I'm obese (I wear it well, but that doesn't change the facts). I could stand to be taller and sometimes my hair is a nuisance. But generally I have a healthy self image.
I struggle with being me in other ways, though. There are certain things our society likes for people to acheive: wealth, status, stability. And I'm not really big on any of them. For a long, long time I tried to make myself fit this mold. I 9 to 5'ed like I was suppose to. I attempted to stay in one country like normal people. I got up at a reasonable hour of morning and went to bed at a (semi-) reasonable hour of night.
(Chinese Proverb: Imitating blindly, you lose sight of yourself.)
It wasn't a good fit, but not doing it felt like failure.
Eventually, I gave up. It's not me and being bipolar, it made me feel like stepping under a bus. All the time.
These days, I do a job I love. For now. I haven't set anything in stone the way that society seems to like. I'm not a 'career teacher'. I teach. For now. I live in Japan. For now. When I finish here, I'll go back to Barbados. And I'll probably leave again when I've had my fill. I don't know if I'll ever own a house. Right now, I'm not even particularly inclined to own a car. And I love waking up when I feel like and that can range from 4 am to 2 pm. (Obviously the 2 pm only happens on holidays and weekends.)
I'm not "successful" in the typical sense of the word, but I'm happy. And I matter more to me than a million people I don't know.
That's one of the reasons you'll see me come out so visciously against universal rules. It's why I'll always advocating being the writer you are, and not the writer someone says you should be. Why I'll always say that you should find your own process. If you need to swim 50 laps before you can write a chapter, that's fine. If you need an outline more complex than the security plan for the Royal Wedding, that's okay. If you have only a spark of a whiff of an idea and fly through 80,000 words in 15 days, that's cool. They only thing that matters is that it works for you.
Should you never tailor you to the rest of the world? Of course you should. If it was up to us, we'd all be "selling" unwieldy first drafts, because the first draft is the pure un-adulterated you. And in our personal lives, we'd all be more abrasive, hurting people that mattered, doing things only in our best interest.
And I'm also not saying you shouldn't change who you are- physically or otherwise. Heck, I plan to have pink hair the minute I'm out of a government job. But if you have to change and tailor for the right reasons and within reason.
Looking at white women blow drying and fluffing their hair into high-volume styles and then watching black women chemically alter theirs so it loses volume and lies flat, tells me something. What you're starting with, whatever that is, is working for someone. And if it's who you are, it should be working for you too.